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and in their respective counties, and under the direction of the commissioners' court of their respective counties shall have charge of all the teams, tools and machinery belonging to the county and placed in their hands by said county through its said commissioners' court, and it shall be their duty under such rules and regulations as the commissioners' court may prescribe, to superintend the laying out of new roads and the building of bridges and the altering or changing of the existing roads. Each of said commissioners shall, before entering upon the duties of his office, in addition to his regular bond as such county commissioner, execute a bond of $1000.00 (one thousand dollars), with two or more good and sufficient sureties thereon, payable to the county judge of his said county, for the use and benefit of the road and bridge fund of his said county, conditioned that they shall perform all the duties required of them by law or by the commissioners' court, and that they will account for all money or property belonging to the county that may come into their possession. SEC. 2. The commissioners' court of said counties shall have full power and authority, and it shall be its duty to adopt such system for working, laying out and draining and repairing the public roads in said county as it may deem best, and from time to time said court may change its plan or system for working the same. The commissioners' court of said counties shall have power to purchase such teams, tools and machinery as may be necessary for the working of its roads; said court shall have the power to construct, grade, drain or otherwise improve any road or bridge by contract, in such case said court, if they deem it necessary, or the county judge of said county, may advertise in such manner as the court may determine for bids to do such work, and the contract shall be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder who shall enter into bond payable to the county judge of said county for the use of the road and bridge fund, with good and sufficient surety, to be approved by said court and in such sum as the court may determine, for the faithful compliance with the terms of said contract; but said court shall have the right to reject any and all bids; the said court shall have the authority to employ any hands or teams to work on the road, under such regulations and for such price as they may deem best.
SEC. 3. The commissioners' court of said counties shall require all county convicts, not otherwise employed, to labor upon the public roads of such county, under such regulations as they may prescribe for the working of county convicts within the limits of said county, and each convict so worked shall receive a credit of fifty cents on his fine and cost for each day he may so labor. Such commissioners' court may provide such reasonable regulations and punishment as may be necessary to require such convicts to labor; but no convict shall be worked on Sunday; the commissioners' court may grant a reasonable commutation of time for which a convict is committed as a reward for faithful service and good behavior, in no case to exceed one-fifth of the whole time. Said court may provide the necessary houses, provisions, clothing, bedding, food, medicine, medical attention and guards for the safe and humane keeping of convicts. The commissioners' court may, at any regular term, allow to the officers and witnesses in a convict case where the convict has worked upon the road, such portion of their lawful costs as it may determine, not to exceed in any case the following:
County judge, $2.50; county attorney, $5.00, including commissions;
county clerk and justice of the peace, $3.00; sheriff and constable, $4.00; witnesses twenty-five per cent. of their legal fees; which allowances shall be paid out of the road and bridge fund, on the warrant of the county. judge, when the said fine and costs shall have been worked out by the convict as provided in this act; provided, that this shall not be construed as to relieve any convict from the payment of all costs for which he would be liable under the General Laws of this State.
SEC. 4. Each county commissioner shall have control of all road overseers in his district and shall deliver to each of them all tools and machinery necessary in working the roads in the precinct of the said road overseer, so far as he has been supplied therewith by the commissioners' court, taking receipt of said overseer therefor, specifying each item and giving its value, which receipt shall be a full answer of the liability of the commissioner and shall fix the liability of the overseer, and any commissioner or overseer who shall have been entrusted with any teams, tools or machinery belonging to said county shall be liable for any damage that may occur to the same while in his possession caused by his negligence or want of due care of same, and shall not use or permit the same to be used for private purposes without the consent of the commissioners' court; it shall be the duty of the road overseer, when he has finished work on his road, to return to said commissioner all tools and machinery received from him and take up the receipt therefor given by him.
SEC. 5. It shall be the duty of the county commissioner, when acting as road commissioner, to inform himself of the condition of the public roads in his district, and shall determine what character of work shall be done upon said road, and shall direct the manner of grading, draining or otherwise improving the same, which direction shall be observed and obeyed by all overseers of his said district.
SEC. 6. The commissioners, when acting as road commissioner in their respective districts, may require of each road overseer in his said district to call out the hands in such numbers as may be sufficient to perform the work, but no road hand shall be required to work exceeding five days in any one year or two days with himself and team, unless the term of service as prescribed by the General Laws shall not be extended beyond that time; and provided, that all road hands in any particular district shall, as far as it is practicable, be worked a uniform time. Each road overseer, or in case of his absence any person deputized by him, shall have full control of all road hands within his precinct, and shall see that each hand when called out shall perform a fair day's work; and if any hand when so called out shall fail or refuse to perform a fair day's work, or to work in the manner the road overseer may direct, he shall be liable to the same penalty as if he had failed to appear in obedience to the summons.
SEC. 7. Any citizen of Wharton county or of Lavaca county liable for road duty who shall, on or before the first day of February of each year, pay to the county treasurer of his said county the sum of three dollars shall be exempt from all road duty of such year, beginning on the first day of February. The county treasurer shall receive and receipt for all money so paid him, and shall place the same to the credit of the road and bridge fund; the county treasurer shall, on the tenth day of February, or as soon thereafter as practicable, furnish to each county commissioner a list of all persons in their respective districts that have paid said sums as pro
vided in this section, and each of said persons shall not be liable under any summons for work on the public roads for the ensuing year.
SEC. 8. The commissioners' court of the said county shall, as far as practicable, expend the money upon the roads and bridges and improvements in the public roads and bridges for the benefit of the sections of the county in proportion to the amounts paid in from the different sections of said county, and all sums of money in the road and bridge fund of the county shall, as far as practicable, be so expended.
SEC. 9. Every person liable to work on roads under the General Laws of the State, by paying his road overseer, or the road commissioner, at any time before the day appointed to work on his road, the sum of one dollar for each day that he is summoned to work, and $1.50 for each day that he is summoned to work his team for road work, shall be exempt for working or furnishing his team for each day paid for, and also be exempt from any penalties for failure to work or furnish such teams for the time for which he has so paid.
SEC. 10. Each person summoned to work on a road shall take with him an axe, hoe, pick, spade, plow, scraper, or such other tool as may be desired and directed by the overseer, or if he has no such tools as are desired by the overseer, to take with him, he shall take such other suitable tools as he may have; provided, the county shall be liable for, and the commissioners' court, under such regulations as they may prescribe, shall pay for all such breakage or damage to such tools as may have resulted from public road work and not caused by the negligence of the person furnishing the same. Such overseer may also summons and require such road hand to bring with him for public road work such team or teams as he may have on hand suitable for road work; provided, such hand shall be allowed two and one-half days time for each day put in by a hand with his team, and one and one-half days time for his team without such hand; and provided further, that any road hand so summoned to furnish a team shall be entitled to decline or refuse to do so in case his team or teams so summoned to be put on said road work are not in condition to perform the labor required.
SEC. 11. If any person liable to work on the public roads, after being legally summoned, shall intentionally fail or refuse to attend, either in person or by able and competent substitute, or fail or refuse to furnish his team or tools at the time and place designated by the person summoning him, the said team being in the proper condition therefor, or to pay to such overseer or the road commissioner the sum of $1.00 for each day he may have been notified to work on the road, or to pay such overseer or the road commissioner the sum of $1.50 for each day he may have been notified to furnish his team for road work, his said team being in condition therefor, or having attended shall fail to perform such fair service or any other duty required of him by law or the person under whom he may work, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof may be fined in any sum not exceeding $10.00.
SEC. 12. It shall be lawful for any delinquent poll tax-payer in Wharton county and in Lavaca county to perform two days service upon the public roads in his road precinct in each and every year in discharge of his said delinquent poll tax, unless the rate of poll tax now provided for by the General Laws of the State of Texas shall be changed, in which case a proportionate time of service shall be held to discharge said delin
quent for one year's poll taxes; and provided further, that this act shall not be held to annul any laws for the collection of delinquent taxes, but shall be held as cumulative thereto in Wharton and Lavaca counties, and the receipt from the overseer or the road commissioner for the said two days service shall be held as a complete proof of the payment of said delinquent tax; provided, that such delinquent tax-payer shall perform such road service under the direction of the road overseer or the road commissioner, under the same regulations herein provided for parties subject to road service under the General Laws of the State.
SEC. 13. At the regular term in February of the commissioners' court, each year, all road overseers of Wharton and Lavaca counties shall make their reports to the commissioners' court of their respective county, upon forms to be furnished them by the commissioners' court; said report shall state the condition of their roads, number of hands, and the name of each hand subject to road work, and the number of days that each hand has worked, the number of hands who had made the payment provided for in Section of this act in lieu of labor, the amount of all money collected and expended, and if there is a balance on hand it shall be turned over to his successor in office to be paid out for work on said road; said report shall be sworn to before some officer authorized to administer oaths; said reports shall be examined by the commissioners' court and if they be found correct shall be approved by said court, and as soon thereafter as practicable the said commissioners' court shall appoint and commission road overseers for the succeeding year. And in case of the death, refusal or inability to act on the part of any road overseer so appointed, the county commissioner of the precinct shall have authority to fill the vacancy, and report his action in writing to the county clerk who shall record the same in the minutes of the commissioners court, either in term time or vacation. Any overseer intentionally failing to perform his duty as such overseer or failing or refusing to make his report as required by law, or failing or refusing to serve and perform the duties of overseer when appointed by said court, or failing to comply with the law in any way concerning his duty as overseer, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not more than $25.00.
SEC. 14. Whenever it shall be necessary to occupy any land for opening, widening, straightening or draining any road or part thereof, if the owner of such land and the commissioners' court cannot agree upon the damages to be paid, the county may proceed to condemn the same in the same manner that a railroad company, under the laws now existing or hereafter passed, may condemn land for right of way, and the same proceedings may be had and the same rights shall exist to such party as would exist if the proceedings were by a railroad company, except that the county shall in no case be required to give bond; provided, that nothing contained in this section shall be held to repeal the provisions of the general law relating to the opening of public roads by juries of view; this section shall be held to be cumulative thereof, and the commissioners' court of Wharton and Lavaca counties may act under such general law or the provisions of this section at their option in such case.
SEC. 15. It shall be the duty of the overseer to keep all hedges on or near the public road trimmed so that the same shall not obstruct said road. The owner of any such hedge who shall refuse to have same trim
med, the overseer, upon an order from the county commissioner of his precinct, shall cause the same to be trimmed so as not to obstruct the road, in accordance with the provisions of this act.
SEC. 16. Each county commissioner, when acting as road commissioner and performing the duties imposed upon him by law or by the commissioners' court, shall be entitled to $2.00 per day for the services actually and necessarily performed; provided, that he shall not draw such pay for more than sixty days per quarter; and provided further, that the sum to be paid him as road commissioner shall not exceed $125 per annum, which amount shall be paid out of the road and bridge fund, when the same shall have been approved by the commissioners' court; and the court shall not approve said account unless the commissioner presenting it shall sign an oath that the said account is just, due and unpaid, and specifying the number of days of actual service performed by him as road commissioner, and that the same was necessary to be done; and no commissioner shall be entitled to pay as road commissioner while he is performing the duties of county commissioner or while going to or returning from the commissioners' court of said county, nor shall he receive any additional pay than that provided for by this section for inspecting the roads in his district or for other road service.
SEC. 17. This act shall be taken notice of by all courts in the same manner as a general law of the State, and it shall be construed to be cumulative of all the general laws of the State on the subject of roads. and bridges and not in conflict therewith, but in case of such conflict this act shall control as to the county of Wharton and the county of Lavaca; the term "roads" includes the road beds, ditches and drains, the bridges and culverts and every part of such road. The term "work" and "working" as used herein shall include the opening and laying out of new roads, widening roads, altering or changing roads, constructing and building, repairing and draining of such roads and everything that may be done in and about the building and maintainance of such roads.
SEC. 18. The fact that there is now no sufficient road law in force in this State, and the fact that the public travel is in need of good roads, and the fact that a more efficient road law is greatly needed the aforesaid counties, creates an emergency and an imperative public necessity that the constitutional rule requiring bills t be read on three several days be suspended, and that this act take effect and be in force from and after its passage, and it is so enacted.
[NOTE. The enrolled bill shows that the foregoing act passed the Senate by a two-thirds vote, yeas 25, nays 0; and passed the House of Representatives, no vote given.]
[NOTE. The foregoing act was presented to the Governor of Texas for his approval on the seventeenth day of April, A. D. 1899, but was not signed by him nor returned to the house in which it originated with his objections thereto within the time prescribed by the Constitution, and thereupon became a law without his signature.-D. H. HARDY, Secretary of State.]