The Hays County Commissioners Court signed a proclamation recognizing February 2021 as Black History Month, discussed communication efforts regarding COVID-19 vaccine distribution and acknowledged the opening of the Association of Collaborative Communities Equipping Youth for STEEAAM Success (ACCEYSS) at its Jan. 26 meeting.
To deescalate crowds within City Hall, the court started the meeting by addressing ACCEYSS and the African American Heritage Committee of the Hays County Historical Commission, allowing for pictures and public comments.
Vanessa Westbrook, the chair of the African American Heritage Committee, says Hays County will hold numerous events to celebrate and honor Black history in February.
"We welcome the opportunity to be able to have citizens engage in celebrating Black History Month," Westbrook says. "We have a variety of activities that we will be engaged in throughout this month. We start off the first week, for instance, by having pretty much all of the cities in Hays County actually do a proclamation at their city council meetings. So the first week, next week, each city will be doing a proclamation [at] their city council meetings."
Other events throughout the month include "I Love You Too," a celebration service project on Feb. 13 hosted by Soulful Creations, a local business, and Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park. Those who attend the event are encouraged to bring canned goods that will go to the Hays County Food Bank.
The Commissioners Court also acknowledged the ribbon cutting and opening of ACCEYSS, which opened on Jan. 21. ACCEYSS is located at 174 S. Guadalupe St. in Suite 105 and is a partnered Texas State and community non-profit organization.
ACCEYSS is 'focused on providing underrepresented and underserved youth and families with access to STEM and agriculture pathways while infusing entrepreneurship and the arts'. The organization will provide after-school programs along with STEM camps for children.
After transitioning to a discussion about COVID-19 updates and vaccine distribution, Chief of Staff Alex Villalobos says approximately 960 vaccines were distributed on Jan. 25 and that a second vaccination site has been identified for the upcoming distribution.
"We averaged between 120 and 150 vaccines an hour [in] distribution, which was a tremendous piece," Villalobos says. "We also have already confirmed our next vaccination distribution site which will be on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 at the PAC, the Performing Arts Center in Kyle."
Villalobos says anyone, even those from other counties, can receive a vaccination if qualified. He says the vaccination process has been efficient.
To date, there is no out of pocket pay for the vaccine; the number of vaccines at the Kyle site will be about 1,900.
Once initially announced, sign-ups for vaccination spots filled up in less than 30 minutes. Commissioner Lon Shell, Precinct 3, says he was upset with how the process of vaccination sign-ups had been communicated to citizens.
"I am glad that the second round, you know, we're having, leaves time for sign-ups. I was extremely disappointed in the communication of that personally; I cannot explain how disappointed I was," Shell says. "It was short notice for something like that for something that has been so important for so many people in the community."
Shell says vaccination sign-ups or information should be released and announced to the public rather than via social media. He also suggests the option of introducing a waiting list for the vaccination.
Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra says several vaccines have been set aside for those who register over the phone rather than online. Villalobos adds that concerns are being dealt with and considered as citizens wait for vaccination.
"We have a huge list of 1A still that need to be [vaccinated]," Villalobos says. "We'll work with those based on the plan for the state to address those and then we'll continue to address the concerns that you guys have brought up."
Other motions during the court meeting included the approval and appointment of Daniel Clay Law as Reserve Deputy Constable in the Hays County Constable Precinct 1 Office. The court also approved to increase the sheriff's office credit card amount to $1,500, which will be used at prolonged crime scenes for food and water.
The court also approved the area of Plum Creek Road South between Grist Mill Road and the low-water crossing to become a no dumping zone. Lastly, the Hays County Health Department was granted permission to install and purchase a $25,586 generator at the Med Park COVID-19 vaccine clinic.
The Hays County Commissioners Court meets every Tuesday at 9 a.m. For more information visit its website.