NEWS HEADLINES

1 person attends county public hearing

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mike Pirtle was the only person who attended Monday’s public hearing prior to the commissioner’s court meeting.

The hearing was set to discuss possibly restricting truck traffic on County Road 2474, east of Alvord in Precinct 2.

Pirtle said he attended so he could speak in favor of closing the road to trucks.

“I’ve been there since 1988, and the last few years we’ve seen a tremendous influx of recreational use,” he said. “It’s the third entrance to the LBJ National Grasslands, and our little road was never supposed to handle that kind of traffic.”

Pirtle said Devon is now preparing to drill a well in the Grasslands, and the company has said its trucks will use Forest Service roads.

Pirtle has doubts. He said he thinks truck drivers will still use CR 2472 because it’s a quicker route back to Alvord.

He described the road saying it’s only 16 feet across at the widest point, and one quarter-mile section is only 10 feet wide.

“To improve the road the county would have to acquire a lot of land and tear out fences,” he said. “It ought to be closed to through truck traffic … we’ve learned to live with the recreational traffic.”

The item was not on the agenda for Monday’s regular meeting, which started immediately after the public hearing, so commissioners were unable to take action.

It should be on the June 30 agenda.

ANIMAL SHELTER

During the regular meeting, Animal Shelter Administrator Linda Bryan told commissioners the Sheriff’s Office employee who worked at the shelter on Sundays, cleaning the facility and feeding the animals, was no longer able to perform those duties.

Sheriff David Walker said the employee, who’s in his 70s, brought an inmate work crew every week. He was reassigned due to safety issues.

“I don’t want to discuss personnel issues in open court, but he’s been wanting to stop doing this for a while,” he said. “He had been taking four [inmates] down there, and that’s a lot of folks for a 20-year-old to keep track of, much less a 77-year-old.”

Bryan is left with no one to work on Sundays, but she does have a part-time position she can fill in September. Commissioners approved in April adding that post for fiscal year 2015.

Bryan asked if in the meantime she could hire contract labor to cover Sundays until the fall and if her current employees could earn overtime pay, instead of comp time, while they fill in the next few weeks.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns made the motion to hire contract labor to work on Sundays and pay current employees for Sunday work for the next 30 days, during which time Bryan should hire contract labor.

VEHICLE PURCHASES

In a meeting June 2, commissioners approved a myriad of vechicle purchases, most for the Sheriff’s Office.

The county sought bids for small sport utility vehicles and large SUVs for the S.O., but ended up rejecting all bids for the smaller vehicles.

The price difference between the two sizes wasn’t significant, and Sheriff Walker said he thought the larger vehicle would maintain its value down the road.

“I think it’s smart to go with the bigger one,” he said at the previous meeting. “For the $1,500 difference, we’ll get more than that when we go to trade them in.”

Commissioners approved the purchase of seven two-wheel drive Chevrolet Tahoes from Caldwell Country for $28,919. They also approved the purchase of a four-wheel drive Tahoe at $33,340 that Walker had requested as an administrator’s vehicle.

Monday Walker requested to purchase two more full-size Tahoes for special services under the same bid approved June 2, and he asked to purchase a Dodge Charger to be used as a transport vehicle.

“We’ll use capital expenditure money, and we should still have money left over,” he said. “Then we’ll start gathering up our high mileage vehicles and get them to [County Asset Manager Diana Alexander] to be sold.”

Commissioners also approved at the June 2 meeting the purchase of a new security system for the Wise County Jail at a cost of $67,918. The system is being purchased from MCS off state contract and will be an upgrade from the current system, which has been in place since the jail was built.

OTHER BUSINESS

Commissioners also approved a special interlocal agreement between the county and the following parties: Tarrant Regional Water District, Wise County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, and Wise Soil and Water Conservation District.

Public Works Director Tom Goode said it’s the same agreement currently in place with these entities, but it expires in September.

The agreement ensures technical assistance is provided to agricultural producers in planning and implementing conservation treatment measures to reduce the amount of sediment and fertilizer that runs off into the Eagle Mountain Lake watershed.

Jerry Frank, who said he was with Bridgeport Economic Development Corp. and Friends of the West Fork, congratulated commissioners on “thinking regionally” and collaborating with different agencies.

The court also accepted several donations to the Public Works Department, including $500 from Pleasant Grove Cemetery, $500 from Alvord Cemetery, $400 from Crafton Cemetery and $65 from the Bridgeport Mexican Cemetery.

They also accepted $275.28 from Cans for Canines for the animal shelter and a load of 1-inch limestone that was dumped in the impound yard. County Treasurer Katherine Hudson said the limestone was in the bed of a vehicle parked in the yard, and when the vehicle was picked up, the owner didn’t want the rock.

Commissioners also:

  • authorized County Clerk Sherry Lemon to appoint Kiley Vian and Blanca Tuma as deputy county clerks;
  • approved construction plans for Montecito Estates, lots 1-11, block 1 in Precinct 1;
  • approved the final plat for Magellito Addition, lot 1, block 1, in Precinct 2 with a variance for the frontage requirements because it’s on a private road and the drainage study;
  • approved the bond for Craig Johnson, interim Precinct 2 justice of the peace;
  • approved renewing insurance with the Texas Association of Counties;
  • approved Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White selling a Komatsu maintainer; and
  • renewed the county’s red flag burn ban.

Commissioners’ next regular meeting is 9 a.m. Monday, June 30, in the third-floor conference room of the courthouse in Decatur.

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