To Erath County Judge Tab Thompson, the issue is simple.
According to Thompson, a representative of Cross Timbers Title approached commissioners last year about converting county records to a “digital format.”
At that time, Thompson said, the Cross Timbers Title representative said the company would give the county the information digitally in return for the county giving it access to appropriate records, Thompson said.
“This is not a difficult issue,” Thompson said Monday. “We had oral agreements that everybody had understood.”
However, for Cross Timbers Title attorney Jim Parker, the issue is not that simple.
Parker said paperwork spelling out the agreement was never signed by the county or by the title company, and he asked commissioners Monday for time to get to the bottom of the reported verbal agreement.
“It may be clear to you folks,” Parker told county officials. “For me, it’s going to take some sorting out.”
Parker said the extra time would allow him to “find out who did what, who said what.”
County Attorney Cary Fraser agreed that it was a good idea for him to sit down with Parker and report back when commissioners meet again in two weeks.
However, Fraser said County Clerk Gwinda Jones did everything that had been verbally agreed to and that was required in the non-signed paperwork.
“She (Jones) was doing what she said she would do,” Fraser said.
Fraser said Jones would have never allowed Cross Timbers Title to take the microfilm “out of the office” if there had not been a verbal agreement.
Fraser also referred to a June 5, 2006, letter from Kevin Watson of Cross Timbers Title that said:
“As you may already know, the act of converting all the county records to a digital format is a very costly and time-consuming endeavor. Cross Timbers Title Co. is prepared to provide this service to the county free of charge.”
In addition, Fraser read an excerpt from a tape of the June 19, 2006, meeting of the Erath County Commissioners Court. On the tape, Fraser quoted Watson as saying: “We would be willing to, anything that we copy, supply the county with those images.”
Watson did not speak at Monday’s meeting.
DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.