Lamar County Courthouse Stock

The Lamar County Courthouse

Lamar County Commissioners on Monday extended a disaster declaration related to the coronavirus pandemic until Jan. 31 and revisited employee Covid-19 policies, giving elected officials and department heads the authority to require negative test results before an employee returns to work after being off due to a virus-related illness or exposure.

“This is not going away,” Emergency Management Coordinator Quincy Blount said about the virus. “The Paris Junior College testing center is running about 200 tests a day. I didn’t pull the positive results, but I know on one of the first testing days out of 81 tested, 16 came back positive.”

Commissioners spent at least 30 minutes in discussion during which the court discussed how best to protect employees from Covid-19 exposure at work before approving pandemic-related policies.

“I just think any employee that is coming back to work after someone in their household tests positive should get tested,” Commissioner Ronnie Bass said. “We have got to do whatever we can to protect our employees.”

In addition to local Covid-19 policies, commissioners approved guaranteed paid leave for peace officers and detention officers exposed to the virus in the line of duty as required by recently passed HB 273. Officers will be required to file for worker’s compensation in an attempt to avoid costs to the county.

Commissioners gave approval to hire a temporary employee to assist with data entry for the county’s Residential Safe-Room grant, which provides up to $3,000 for storm shelter installations for 68 residences. Associated costs are to be paid with grant funds, according to information presented by Blount.

In other action, the court approved the renewal of the automated victim notification service contract, which provides information and notification about offender custody status and court event information. Commissioners also approved the issuance of credit cards provided by Farmers Bank & Trust for travel/training purposes and increased per diem pay for overnight travel from $35 to $45 daily.

After a brief executive session, the court gave approval to move forward with a tax abatement for an economic development prospect known as Project Iron Horse and to retain attorney Don Biard to prepare necessary documents.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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