Palo Pinto County commissioners

PALO PINTO — Scaffolding will go up next week at the courthouse in Palo Pinto and electricians appeared ready to unclog a bottleneck at the county annex in Mineral Wells as commissioners heard a morning refrain of parts shortages affecting multiple projects Monday.

"They were trying to project our order to next year," VinMark Roofing & Construction co-owner Vincent Hernandez described the challenge of getting supplies.

Hernandez also said an "urgency letter" from the county "really helped us out" and that his crews would be installing scaffolding on the three-story courthouse on Monday.

"So, as long as you get your materials, you'll be done by the end of the year," Pct. 4 Commissioner Jeff Fryer posed.

"Definitely," Hernandez replied.

County Judge Shane Long later said the roof on the building is 15 years old. The sandstone, Moderne-style structure will turn 80 years old next year and is on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the Texas Historical Commission website.

Commissioners on Monday also bolstered cyber protection at the courthouse, spending $20,531 on equipment for a firewall recommended by Computer Transition Services Inc., the county's new cyber security contractor.

Calling Palo Pinto's current firewall "middle of the road," consultant Ray Bertrand proposed replacing the firewalls at the courthouse, the Mineral Wells annex and five other county buildings.

During discussions, Sheriff Brett McGuire indicated his office needed a separate firewall and internet connection. The sheriff said his office is linked to the Texas Department of Public Safety and needs to remain separate from the countywide network.

The highway patrol can shut down dispatch and the sheriff's office network "if this system gets compromised," McGuire told the court. Long soon recommended approving Bertrand's recommendation and look at the sheriff's system in the next budget year.

"This is a first step toward updating and upgrading county data," the judge said.

Commissioners on Monday also summoned the man overseeing the conversion of the former Bank of America in Mineral Wells into a courthouse annex. The court called Jason Ringo after commissioners said they'd visited the site on U.S. 180 and did not see ongoing work.

"I know it's been two weeks -- that's what's got me frustrated," Fryer said.

Long said it appeared progress was "in the same spot we were in six months ago."

The court agreed the holdup was the electrical work, creating a bottleneck blocking other projects like cabinet installation and getting both elevators working.

Ringo arrived from Mineral Wells to tell them they were correct and that his contractor, Zomac Electrical, had changed hands after entering the county contract and the new owner had been unaware of the slowdown until Ringo sent him a demand letter with a 48-hour deadline to keep the contract.

There also has been a lot of turnover at Zomac, a company Ringo said he'd worked at for eight or nine years and "my point guys" no longer are there.

"The supply line is soft," he added, noting one order he put in right before July 4 that arrived last week.

"It's mind-numbing," Ringo said of getting materials. "I want to get done, I want to get done."

He said the new owner, a small businessman but not an electrician, had been surprised the work was not getting done.

"When I sent that letter, he said, 'What is wrong? Here, we've got the parking lot and a few lights (left to finish).' And I said, 'No.' "

Ringo said a new journeyman electrician was on the way from Fort Worth by late Monday morning.

In other action Monday, the court

• Approved the sheriff's request to make a block of Oak Street one-way west from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on school days, beginning after the holidays.

McGuire said parents picking up students exiting the north door of the campus complex are backing up to Ninth Avenue, which is Farm-to-Market 4.

"For some reason, folks feel like it's OK to stop on FM 4," he said. "So, they're going to have to come in (Elm Street) and go around, and we won't have backup on FM 4."

The new one-way, from South Eighth Avenue to FM 4, will begin on Jan. 3, 2022, the court decided. Pct. 1 Commissioner Gary Glover will install signs alerting drivers to the change.

• Declined to renew a countywide burn ban;

* Agreed to order computer hardware for the Veterans Service Office -- provided the goods are in stock when Information Technology Director Larry Spraggins puts in the order.

"There's no guarantee everything we order will be in stock," he said, blaming "low supply and chip shortage."

• Approved budgeted payments of $10,000 to Community Animal Rescue Effort (CARE) and $1,500 to the Paul Lawrence Dunbar Community Group. Both nonprofit organizations benefit under an interlocal agreement with the county.

Commissioners did not act on a similar agreement with the Area Growth Council, citing an unspecified clarification the court wants.

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