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County veterans to get VA Telehealth care access

Mineral Wells Index - 12/11/2019

Dec. 9--PALO PINTO -- Palo Pinto County's military veterans should soon have easier access to medical care through a pilot program using the Veterans Administration's Telehealth service.

County Veterans Service Officer Clay Roundtree told county commissioners on Monday it has become increasingly difficult for many of the county's 1,500 veterans to gain access to VA-backed medical care with the loss of doctors leaving the system and the distance to VA hospitals.

Roundtree said the pilot program will be offered at no cost to the county. He said VA will provide 15-20 electronic tablets that will let local veterans consult remotely through video with doctors and care providers regarding their medical diagnoses and treatment options. Roundtree said his office, located at VFW Post 2399 in Mineral Wells, will provide the Internet connectivity and a place for veterans to speak confidentially about their health care.

"The only thing we have to provide is the network service," Roundtree said. "There is only us and one other county interested in this."

County commissioners unanimously agreed the county's participation in the VA Telehealth program.

Wastewater plant

Commissioners on Monday unanimously approved proceeding with the first steps toward improvements to the county-owned wastewater treatment plant located north of Palo Pinto off FM Road 4 North.

Commissioners agreed to issue public notice of the county's intent to issue $500,000 in certificates of obligation that will be used for project planning, any needed land acquisition and design.

Vince Viaille, managing director for Dallas-based Specialized Public Finance Inc., told commissioners the initial $500,000 will come through a 10-year, low-interest Texas Water Development Board loan.

Viaille projected an interest rate of 1.14%, but said if the loan was obtained right now the rate would be 0.65%. He projected a higher rate in the event rates increase by the time the loan is secured in February.

He said should the county is not yet committing itself to the second phase of actual construction, which he said is projected to cost $1.7 million. He said hopes are TWDB grants can be secured to help offset construction costs.

"If we can get grants between now and them we can ship away at that $1.7 million," Viaille said.

Delinquent taxes

Commissioners on Monday heard an update on efforts to collect delinquent 2018 property taxes.

The county in July turned $716,000 in delinquent 2018 property taxes over to Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins & Mott LLP for collection. Firm representative Alison Callison told commissioners to date they have collected 44% of that amount at $317,315.

Callison said that means to date the county has received 98% of its $23.25 million tax levy, with $398,685 still owed.

According to a chart provided by the collection firm, the county has achieved over 99% tax levy collection each previous year since 2010. The summary also includes ad valorem collections for Palo Pinto County Hospital District and Emergency Services District No. 1.

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