DETCOG Board Initiates Planning for New Facilities

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Megan Whitworth
Megan Whitworth is the former creative director of Texas Forest Country Living. Growing up in East Texas, Megan discovered her love of writing at the age of 11, writing song lyrics and poetry, which turned into essays and articles for publications around East Texas. She later added photography into the mix capturing Friday night football games, the latest fashion looks, and portraits of people around the nation. Megan enjoys karaoke, blogging, reading, and road trips. She resides in Lufkin with her husband, Ryan, and two cats, Felix and Lucy.

The Board of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments approved some initial steps in the planning process for a new building at its March 23 meeting in Shepherd.

After meeting in executive session to discuss prospective gifts and real estate, the Board emerged to take action on several items.

It first authorized its Executive Committee to accept and negotiate terms and conditions of a gift to be used for construction of a new facility. The board also authorized the Committee to select a site for the facility, subject to a recommendation by the DETCOG Building Committee.

The Executive Committee was authorized to negotiate with other entities for additional funding and other matters related to a new building, with any resulting agreements subject to ratification by the Board. The Board then approved the issuance of a Request for Qualifications for architectural services.

DETCOG Executive Director Lonnie Hunt reports to the board.

“It’s too early to release details about the proposed new facility,” Executive Director Lonnie Hunt said.  “There are still a lot of things that need to fall into place. Some time ago the Board accepted a $1 million grant from the Economic Development Administration to be used for facility construction, and we now have additional funding being offered from other sources to enable us to construct a larger facility that should meet all our current needs. If this is going to become a reality, we have to get moving on it.”

In other business, DETCOG President Lynn Torres announced that elections for Minority Representatives to the DETCOG Board would be held April 3 in Jasper County and April 12 in Polk County. In two other counties, San Jacinto and Angelina, the Commissioners Courts will be asked to appoint a Minority Representative because no nominations were received.

The Board also passed resolutions acknowledging April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and Fair Housing Month. It went on to recognize April 5th as National Service Recognition Day.

In his report to the Board, Hunt made note of the findings from a “very extensive” state audit of DETCOG’s Aging, 2-1-1 and STAR Programs. The review found that all funds were used as intended.

Hunt then introduced Renee’ Ricks as DETCOG’s new RSVP Program Director. RSVP is the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. DETCOG operates one of the largest programs in the country with more than 800 volunteers provided valuable service at 104 work stations throughout the 12-county region.

The Board approved the appointment of four individuals to represent Deep East Texas in the 17th Texas Silver Haired Legislature. These include Elgin Davis and Russell Johnson of Polk County, Willie Parker of San Jacinto County, and Cathy Bennett of Tyler County. The Silver Haired Legislature meets in Austin to discuss senior issues and make recommendations to the Texas Legislature.

The next DETCOG Board Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 27, 2017 in Shelby County.

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