Congressman Brian Babin was a special guest during the Deep East Texas Council of
Government’s July board of directors meeting Thursday July 23. Babin represents the 36th
District of Texas which includes the counties of Jasper, Newton, Polk and Tyler in Deep East
Texas. Babin thanked the DETCOG board members for the leadership they provide in their
communities and reflected on several topics including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, funding amidst the pandemic, the workforce and jobs during these times and the possibility of schools reopening.
“Over the last two months we’ve had great job creation,” Babin said. “Just last month alone
we’ve created nearly five million brand new jobs, which is the highest job gain ever recorded in history since we’ve been recording our job creations in one month’s time. This is great news; the American economy is continuing to open even in spite of the escalating numbers of cases we’re seeing in several states including our great state.”
“The good news there is that even with the escalating cases, our death rate and death and
death total has continued to flatten out and fall, that’s very good news.” Babin also reported he had successfully added an amendment to a proposed federal transportation bill which would increase funding for the future Interstate 14, also known as the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway, which will eventually cross the DETCOG region along the current
route of US 190.
In other business the DETCOG board heard an update on the 2020 Census response rates for the region. As of July 22, Angelina County has the highest response rate in Deep East Texas with a 53.4% rate. In comparison, Angelina County had a final response rate of 64.7% in 2010. Sabine County currently has the lowest response rate with 28.6%, as compared to the county’s 2010 response rate of 44.7%.
The low response rates in more rural counties like Sabine and others in Deep East Texas is
attributed in large part to the fact that no Census materials were mailed to most rural
households. Census workers have only recently begun distributing Census packets to many
rural homes. The Census Bureau has extended the self-response deadline to October 31.
Starting sometime in August Census workers are expected to begin visiting households who
have not responded.
Statewide, Texas has a response rate of 57.2%, and the state had a 64.4% response rate in 2010. The U.S. currently has a response rate of 62.3% and had a response rate of 66.5% in 2010.
Additionally, Mark Durand, Executive Director of Workforce Solutions of Deep East Texas, gave an update on the region’s labor market. Unemployment in Deep East Texas was at 9.2% in June, lower than May’s total of 12.0%. However, the June 2020 unemployment rate was higher than June 2019’s total of 4.7%, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional actions during the meeting include:
• Approval of a letter in support of the nomination of Jasper County Judge Mark Allen for
the president-elect position of the Texas Association of Regional Councils.
• Reviewed of the quarterly financial report.
• Approval of DETCOG’s salary schedule.
• Approval of a Continuity of Operations and Disaster Recovery Plan for Deep East
Texas Regional 9-1-1 Network.
• Approval of revised bylaws for 9-1-1 Advisory Council.
• Confirmation of committee appointments for the 2020-2021 term.
DETCOG’s next board of director’s meeting is scheduled for Aug. 27, 2020.