By Alton Porter
Houston County officials have hired a recent UT Law grad to serve as the county's assistant attorney.
County Attorney Daphne Session recently selected Paul Andrew Hill, a May 2016 University of Texas School of Law graduate, to assist her in the role of assistant county attorney.
County Judge Jim Lovell and the two county commissioners present at a commissioners court meeting Thursday, Dec. 21, voted to approve Hill's salary. Commissioners Kennon Kellum (Precinct 4) and Pat Perry (Precinct 3) were absent.
"We have a new county employee," said Lovell, in introducing Hill to the commissioners and others present at the meeting and in placing the matter of approval of Hill's salary before the court. "I should have recognized and introduced him at the beginning (of the meeting). But, for those who don't know Paul, Paul Hill is the new assistant county attorney."
Lovell then told Hill he was glad to have him as a new addition to the county's legal staff and welcomed him to the county.
Hill responded, "Yes sir, thank you, I'm happy to be here."
Then, Lovell continued, "I have a letter here from our county prosecutor, County Attorney Daphne (Session). It says, 'Please add to the December 21, 2017, commissioners court agenda, to discuss and consider approval of the salary for the following new employee within the Houston County Attorney's Office: Paul Hill, as assistant county attorney, at the pay rate of $2,289.34 bi-weekly."
Precinct 2 Commissioner Willie Kitchen immediately offered a motion to approve the salary, and Precinct 1 Commissioner Gary Lovell seconded the motion, which passed on a 3-0 vote.
After the vote, Kitchen noted he had been told Hill passed up a position in a much larger city to come to Crockett to work in Houston County because he likes Crockett so well, and asked Hill if that was true.
Hill responded, "Yes, I met with Daphne, and the interview went great. I got a chance before the interview to see the town and to see the county. ... The feeling was right. And it's just a great opportunity and it's such a great community. So, I'm happy to be here."
"Thank you for choosing us," Lovell said.
Hill replaces former Assistant County Attorney Amber Bewley, who resigned in November to accept a like position in her hometown of Lufkin.
In an interview after the meeting, Hill told the Courier, "I was born in San Marcos. I did college at University of North Texas. I majored in political science. And then, I did my law school at UT-Austin. I graduated in (May) 2016.
"After that, I was working at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. I was doing family law there. And then, I was looking for something a little different. So, I came up and interviewed with Daphne (in early November). I saw the town.
"The job seemed like a really good opportunity. So, after about a year of practicing family law down in Corpus Christi, I decided to make the change and come and work for Daphne to be a prosecutor up here." Hill said he first learned about the Houston County Assistant County Attorney employment opportunity from a job posting online.
"I'm just really excited to be here," Hill told the Courier. It's (Crockett) a nice town. I like being here. It's been really, really nice so far. Everybody has been really welcoming, so nice and so kind. I felt very, very welcome.
"I was able to find a place to live really easily. Everything is easily accessible. I can walk to work every day. So, I'm enjoying it here."
He said, "Coming into the interview, I was a little unsure because I'd never been here before. But then, I had some extra time before my interview. And I was driving around the town, seeing everything. I hung out at the public library for a little bit to print-out extra copies of my resume. And I had my interview with Daphne, and it just all felt right."
In deciding how he wanted to spend his career while in law school, Hill said, "I knew that I wanted to help people."
Like most law school educations, he said his was "pretty general." "I wasn't too specific, so there was no real specialization in law school," he said.
About his duties in his new job here in Houston County, Hill said, "I'll just be a prosecutor. In the county court at law, we do misdemeanors. And then, over in district court, we'll be doing CPS (Texas Child Protective Services) cases.
"We also do protective orders for people who need protection from family violence and handle juvenile cases."
In other action at the meeting, Judge Lovell and the two commissioners present voted three to zero to pass a motion offered by Kitchen—seconded by Commissioner Lovell—rejecting a sealed bid in the amount of $25 from DeGerrian Evans of Crockett for Lot 4 in the J.W. Hogg Addition, located at 809 Sycamore St., Crockett.
The Houston County trust property, which has an old house on it, measures 54 feet by 125 feet, has a judgment value of $7,078.70, is part of the Frank Johnson Survey and was previously owned by the estate of Clyde Randolph and others.
The judgments against the property are for 2005 through 2012. County records show $915.96 in taxes is owed on the property to the county, $83.31 is due Houston County Hospital District, $1,536.44 is owed the City of Crockett and $4,506.99 is due Crockett Independent School District.
The county already has spent $915.60 in court costs and other expenses associated with the property.
County Tax Assessor-Collector Danette Millican noted the obvious: the bid amount is "not sufficient to cover post judgment taxes, and will not cover the $30 fee to record the Resale Deed."
In other business, Lovell and the two commissioners:
• Voted passage of a motion made by Kitchen—seconded by Commissioner Lovell—accepting a $21,532 allotment of donated reclaimed asphalt from the Texas Department of Transportation to help repair county roads this fiscal year;
• Voted to pass a Commissioner Lovell motion—seconded by Kitchen—approving acceptance of a donation of road materials of undisclosed value for County Road 1535 in Precinct 1; and
• Passed another Commissioner Lovell motion—seconded by Kitchen—authorizing Judge Lovell to be designated signatory for the county on its contracts with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.