NEWS HEADLINES

Commissioners deny car clubs’ request

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wise County commissioners decided Monday that their word is good enough.

Representatives with the Southwest Swap Meet and the Wise County Antique Auto Club Association had requested that commissioners outline in writing the groups’ use of the fairgrounds and secure future dates for their events.

But commissioners denied their request.

Moving On

MOVING ON – A county employee Tuesday removes letters from the overhead sign at the fairgrounds entrance on Farm Road 51 South in Decatur. The sign was a holdover from the Wise County Sheriff’s Posse, which had leased the property for more than 50 years, before the county took it over in December. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“The entities asked if they could have dates for a period of years so they could have continuity,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns said. “We can’t contract that, but we could do a memorandum of understanding.”

Burns said it wouldn’t be legally binding, just a suggestion for future commissioners.

“The only time we might change it is if the Youth Fair was a conflict because that’s what those grounds were for,” he said.

The Wise County Antique Auto Club Swap Meet is held the last week of February, and the Southwest Swap Meet, which moved to Decatur three years ago, is held in September. Burns said the Southwest meet had been displaced several times, and representatives thought an agreement in writing would secure continuity for their event.

Commissioners attorney Thomas Aaberg wasn’t opposed to the groups getting the same dates every year, but he didn’t support issuing them memorandums of understanding.

“It’s been on the record several times since we started this process that everyone who has a historical date gets that date,” said Aaberg. “What more do we need?”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White agreed with Aaberg.

“What were they given before?” he asked. “If our word isn’t good enough, maybe the paper we write on isn’t good enough either.”

Burns said although it had been stated during commissioners meetings and was a matter of court record, it wasn’t in the fairgrounds rules or in the lease agreement.

“I’m not against them getting their dates,” Aaberg said. “I’m just trying to look out for what you guys are about to sign. If Tom’s (Goode) the head of this, he can schedule that for several years out.”

In the end, commissioners agreed that Goode has authority to book events many years in advance, and if he chooses, he can write letters to the associations detailing the dates for which they’ve booked the facility.

In other fairgrounds-related business, commissioners agreed to designate $50,000 for utilities, maintenance and upkeep of the facility.

They also decided to form an advisory committee with representatives from the entities that use the fairgrounds most. The committee will have someone from the Wise County Youth Fair, Wise County Antique Auto Club, WC Challenger Charities, Wise County Sheriff’s Posse and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Wise County. Goode, who is public works administrator, said the committee will make recommendations about improvements that could be made to the grounds.

Anyone who has leased the fairgrounds should call the Public Works office at 940-627-9332 to confirm and pick up a copy of the new lease and rules. Goode said his office is honoring all previous reservations and down payments, but since he never received the Posse’s schedule book, he doesn’t know what groups have reserved the facility – with the exception of longstanding events like the Youth Fair.

OTHER BUSINESS

Commissioners approved having a survey done on a portion of County Road 4227 at the request of Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance. He plans to do some road work, which includes straightening a curve, near Sewell Ranch.

Elections Administrator Lannie Noble reported to commissioners that his office would no longer be able to use the Decatur Civic Center as a voting location. He said Decatur City Hall has been offered as a replacement option, but he’s open to suggestions.

“Parking is the issue,” he said. “I have enough space to set up booths in my office, but there’s only six parking spaces. We need plenty of parking, and it has to be ADA compliant. There are days during early voting where 1,000 people will vote. That’s a lot of traffic in and out.”

Burns suggested commissioners bring ideas to the next meeting.

Commissioners also discussed the vehicles in use by the Wise County Animal Shelter. The shelter, which was under the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, was made its own department at the Dec. 2 meeting.

Animal control officers Sherri Hartfield and Fred Redder remain under the S.O. umbrella because the department is required by the state to handle strays and rabies control. For that reason, Sheriff David Walker told commissioners that his department would need to retain the vehicles driven by Hartfield and Redder, but any other vehicles could be assigned to the shelter. Walker said the shelter vehicles could continue to be maintained by mechanics in the S.O. shop.

Commissioners also:

  • approved bonds for county engineer Chad Davis, Public Works Administrator Tom Goode, Asset Control Manager Diana Alexander, County Court-at-Law No. 2 Judge Stephen Wren and Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance,
  • approved the appointment or re-appointment of Winford Cash, Chad Hightower and Tommy Spencer to the board for Wise County Emergency Services District No. 1;
  • ratified the three-year appointment of Tim Woodruff to the North Central Texas Council of Governments Regional Aging Advisory Committee;
  • approved the amended Department of State Health Services Cities Readiness Initiatives contract; and
  • accepted the following donations: $458.94 to Cans for Canines; a training dummy from Crime Stoppers to the Sheriff’s Office; and $25,715 from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to the county. The county had given TxDOT $32,530 for a right-of-way project, and TxDOT returned what was not used.

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