Remember the (contrived) fiasco surrounding the Bowie County Courthouse Christmas lights last year? I asked Judge Lacy a few weeks ago if the courthouse would be lit this year, and he assured me it would be.
However, I drive past the courthouse every day, and haven’t seen evidence of the lights being installed. Yesterday, I found Vickie Cox, the courthouse head of maintenance, and asked her about the lights. She told me that she hadn’t received any direction regarding the lights this year. I asked if there was still time to get the workers from the Telford prison unit scheduled to install them, and she expressed her doubts.
Judge Lacy was out of the courthouse, but I was able to reach him via phone. He told me that he did direct Ms. Cox to have the lights installed this year, early in October:
I told her that I had made ample provision for Christmas lights in the budget, and instructed her to have them installed.
Because of the problems last year, I asked her, “Who did you come to when you had a personnel problem?” She replied, “You.” I asked her “Who did you come to when you needed $10,000 for emergency repairs to the roof of the courthouse?” and she replied “You,” again.
I then told her that if she encountered any resistance to putting up the lights, to come to me. She said she would.
(I also learned that last year, Ms. Cox confirmed with Judge Lacy’s office that the funds were available for the lighting, and was told to proceed. However, when the two commissioners told her and the county purchasing agent, Chris Goodsell, not to light the courthouse, she stopped the project – but didn’t tell Judge Lacy’s office of their decision.)
I then called the lieutenant at Telford who is in charge of community projects, and asked him if there was still time to schedule the inmates for the installation. He replied that he just needed to hear from Ms. Cox, and that he would bring the inmates and get to work. He said it takes about two weeks for the complete installation.
He then told me that, because of the problems last year, he called Ms. Cox last week to see if or when she wanted to schedule his crew. He said she told him that she didn’t know yet.
I spoke with Rachael, Judge Lacy’s administrative assistant, this morning. She said Ms. Cox was on scheduled vacation, and would be gone through the end of next week.
However, Rachael called the lieutenant at the Telford unit, and scheduled the installation to begin Wednesday, and will oversee the project until Ms. Cox returns.