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Ag revenue, juvenile crime stats up in 2007

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

Good news often comes hand in hand with bad, the Caldwell County Commissioners were reminded during their last meeting of the month on Monday.
The “good news” came from Texas AgriLife Extension Agent Rachel Bauer, who reported that figures for agriculture revenue increased significantly in 2007 over the previous year.

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Bauer reported total agriculture revenue of nearly $65.7 million reported in Caldwell County last year, up from some $38.5 million in 2006.
Much of the increase, Bauer said, can be credited to significant increases in corn prices, and in the rebound in the hay market after 2006″s drought.
“Hay increased from around $4.5 million to well over $13 million,” Bauer said. “It was a much better year for hay producers, and that shows in these numbers.”
In addition, revenue from eggs shot up from $8.9 million to nearly $22 million.
While some agriculture industries held firm or increased only slightly, production did not decrease in any area from 2006 -2007, Bauer”s report indicated.
She said the total revenues were slightly higher than average. With good rainfall totals, she said, the county usually generates around $60 million in agriculture-related revenues each year.
An unrelated report from Caldwell County Juvenile Probation Chief Officer Jay Monkerud showed that juvenile crime statistics throughout the county had increased last year.
“We saw a dramatic decrease last year, but those numbers rebounded and came back to their normal levels in 2007,” Monkerud said. “However, our felony referrals didn”t increase.”
Monkerud said some of the increase in juveniles being supervised by his department could be attributed to the fact that the Texas Youth Commission will no longer house misdemeanor offenders, leaving that population in the hands of local juvenile authorities. However, Monkerud said that decision may cause a negative impact on communities.
“The level of offense might be different, but we supervise individuals, not offenses,” he said. “We can have a felony offender that”s never been in any trouble before, who is doing all the right things, going to school and following curfew, and then we can have a misdemeanor offender who”s doing [elicit drugs], not going to school, not making curfew… and they know they won”t go to TYC because they only have a misdemeanor offense.”
Still, Monkerud said, the increase in referral numbers may not reflect true crime statistics for the county.
“There are several cases where we have more than one offender involved in the same incident,” he said. “Some have as many as four or five different individuals involved and each of those individuals is a separate referral.”
The incidence of “group crime” does not indicate a gang problem though, he said. Rather, Monkerud assured the Commissioners that gang crime is not a large problem in Caldwell County.
“Back in 1996-1997, we had some bigger issues with gang-related crime,” he said. “Now, we have a few “wanna-be” gang groups, but mostly, what we”re seeing is just groups of kids, without gang affiliation, getting in trouble together.”
In other business, the Court held a short public hearing to allow neighbors the opportunity to offer input on the final plat for the Woods at St. John”s Colony located on St. John”s Road. No citizens offered input, and the Court approved the final plat, with the caveat that two typographical errors on the final documents be corrected prior to submission with the County Clerk”s office.
The Court tabled consideration of the sale and purchase of vehicles for Caldwell County Constable Precinct 1, citing concerns voiced by other Constables. The Commissioners will revisit the issue once again during their next regular meeting, on Feb. 11.
In brief news:
The Commissioners approved a cooperative agreement to haul material for a paving project as requested by the Texas Department of Transportation.
They approved the change of directional yield and stop signs on Luckett, Dauchy and Eastwood Streets in Fentress.
They opted not to reinstate an outdoor burning ban, but encouraged county residents to be cautious when burning, and to make sure not to burn when winds are high.
The County paid bills in the amount of $98,874.84, which includes $2,945 for Indigent Legal Defense.
The Caldwell County Commissioners” Court meets on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse. Meetings are open to the public and begin at 9 a.m.

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