By Kathi Bliss
The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department was the central focus of the regular meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court on Monday, as several issues regarding local law enforcement and staffing came to the forefront.
Most notably, Sheriff Daniel Law and Detective Sean Zion informed the Commissioners that they have been working to prepare two grants, one which will allow the department to purchase several radar devices and, perhaps, a traffic-enforcement motorcycle, and another that will reimburse the County for overtime hours paid to officers under a traffic enforcement program.
According to Law, traffic enforcement is and always has been a priority of the department, but because patrol staffing numbers are so low, that enforcement often takes a backseat to response to other, more urgent calls.
If the department is approved for participation in the Selective Traffic Enforcement (STEP) program, deputies will be authorized for specified amounts of overtime, using those hours specifically for traffic enforcement on state roadways, such as Highway 80, FM 20 East and West, and Highway 21.
County Judge Tom Bonn expressed concern about the program, particularly with regard to the safety and liability issues that might arise with the use of a patrol motorcycle, and chose to vote against the measure as long as it contained provisions for motorcycle use.
The remaining members of the Court voted to authorize the department to move forward in seeking the grants.
In other business, a lawsuit that many in the gallery thought had been settled came back to the Court’s attention, and was discussed during a lengthy executive session.
The suit, brought by a former employee of the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department, alleges a wrongful termination, and discrimination from the department, both accusations which Law and other department officials staunchly deny.
After consulting with attorneys for a little more than 90 minutes on the matter, the Commissioners resumed in regular session without making any announcement as to the discussions or the future of the suit.
The Court chose to award bids on repairs on several buildings, including the LW Scott Annex in Lockhart, and two buildings in Luling. Repairs of windows and roofing of the buildings will move forward in the next few months, with the work being paid for with the proceeds of a past certificate of obligation initiative passed by the Court for building repairs.
In brief news:
The commissioners discussed, and eventually declined, membership in the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition. Although Bonn and Commissioner John Cyrier were in support of being involved with the group, so that Caldwell County could “at least have a voice in the discussion,” the remaining three Commissioners stood by an earlier vote not to participate.
The Court held a public hearing regarding the proposed final plat of the Bridgestone Ranch subdivision in the Lytton Springs area.
The panel discussed the possible installation of road cushions on Meadow Lane in Martindale, but tabled the discussion until their next meeting on Feb. 21.
They also chose to table discussions on changes to the Caldwell County Development Ordinance until Feb. 27.
Commissioner Joe Roland read a proclamation declaring February as “Black History Month in Caldwell County,” and invited the Commissioners and the gallery to attend the Lockhart Progressive Club’s annual banquet on Saturday, Feb. 18.
The Caldwell County Commissioners routinely meet on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in the conference and training room at the LW Scott Annex, 1403 Blackjack St., in Lockhart. The next meeting, because of the President’s Day Federal holiday, will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 21.