The Deep East Texas Council of Governments, which is headquartered here in Jasper, could soon be leaving town.
A letter sent to board members from DETCOG Executive Director Lonnie Hunt this week outlined the reasons why the group should consider the move to a possible location in Lufkin.
The letter stated, among other reasons, that the move to Lufkin should be considered due to the fact that the group had received a grant some time ago from the Economic Development Administration and also recently received a grant from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation. In addition, Hunt stated that DETCOG had also requested funding for the project from the Lufkin 4B Economic Development Corporation. In addition, Hunt said DETCOG had already sold it's office in Lufkin.
Cost of the project was estimated by Hunt to be in the neighborhood of $2.5 million.
Hunt stressed on Friday that his letter to the board was only a suggestion or option to be considered and that no decision had been reached. However, his letter to the board states, “I notified the Executive Committee of this on Friday, and they requested I send this information to all board members so that you will have adequate time to think about it, ask questions, and be prepared to vote on March 23rd.”
The meeting Hunt is referencing is to be held at 12:00 noon on that day at the Shepherd Community Center in Shepherd.
Hunt said Friday that DETCOG currently had an estimated total of 59 employees and that around 45 of them worked in the Jasper office. Hunt also estimated that 37 or so of those employees lived in Jasper.
Hunt said that he realized that the move would not be good for Jasper, but that he and others would do what they could to minimize the impact to the community.
Hunt’s letter to the board also mentioned the fact that DETCOG still has around 7 years left on a 20 contract with City of Jasper for it’s offices here. However, he said possibilities to be considered included sub-leasing office space, finding a buyer for the property or just continuing to make payments on the building.
DETCOG is comprised of governmental entities in 12 different counties of Texas State Senatorial District 3, including Jasper, Newton, Tyler, Sabine, San Augustine, Angelina, Polk, Trinity, San Jacinto, Houston, Nacogdoches, and Shelby Counties.