Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Every citizen needs to take time out to attend a Commissioners Court meeting.  You never know when you are going to learn something new and exciting.  Like how to approve a fireproof vault for the County Clerk that is not fireproof.  Yep, during the court meeting on January 28th the Milam County Commissioners Court actually approved the construction of a fireproof vault that is not fireproof.

During public participation County Clerk Barbara Vansa brought up the fact that the bid and plans approved by the court for the new construction was not totally fireproof.  Only a portion of the structure is to be fireproof.  However, the bid specifications did in fact call for a fireproof structure.

Barbara's information to the court seemed to push one of Judge Barkemeyer's buttons.  During the agenda item to discuss the construction the Judge was less than judicial in his comments to Barbara.  Seems to me he was suggesting that Barbara should have known by reading the blueprints that the entire addition was not going to be fireproof.  Putting the shoe on the other foot it is clear the Court did not know what they were approving.  Bids were let for a fireproof vault, and yet led by Judge Barkemeyer the Court approved something less.

One of the County Clerk's primary responsibilities is to care for and maintain county records.  Protecting them against fire is a real concern.  Clerks throughout Texas have fireproof protection for their records.  If they don't have it they sure do want it.  Many a potential court case was settled over the years when courthouses caught fire.  Even one of Milam County's courthouses burned down under suspicious circumstances in 1874.

My concern here is why are we spending money to build a fireproof vault that is not fireproof?  You would like to think one of the members of the Court, maybe even the Judge, would have said something about putting a hold on the construction until it met the requirements for fireproofing.  Poor leadership if you ask me.

Judge Barkemeyer did mention that if the clerk had the money to fix it fix it.  I worked with Barbara Vansa for many years and know her focus is on doing her job.  My bet is that the vault will be totally fireproof if she does have the money.  And it will be fireproof thanks to an elected official who is more interested in getting the job done than placing blame.

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