County names road administrator
By LPR Staff
After a lengthy executive session on Monday morning, the Caldwell County Commissioners named a new County Unit Road Administrator.
The position, left vacant by the recent illness and passing of long-time administrator Bill Alexander, has been filled in an interim capacity by Dwight Jeffrey for several months. Following n
early an hour of discussion behind closed doors the Commissioners” Court decided to offer Jeffries the position on a permanent basis.
“I”m honored to be given this opportunity, and I”d like to thank the Commissioners for their offer,” Jeffrey said after the announcement.
The Commissioners plan to have another executive session during their regular meeting next Monday to discuss the terms of Jeffrey”s contract.
In related business, the Commissioners discussed entering an agreement with the City of Lockhart that will result in two roads being paved in a joint County-City project.
In late-2006, the City of Lockhart annexed two large tracts of property, both of which contained roads the County had either been actively working toward paving or a had committed to paving. After the annexation, the roads became the responsibility of the City of Lockhart. However, because of a lack of funding and equipment, the City expressed concerns that the already-completed work might be lost over the time it would take for the City to pave the roads.
Under the proposed agreement, the two roads in question, County Road 217 (Old Fentress Highway) and County Road 300 (Crane Road), will be prepared for paving by County crews, with the City of Lockhart footing the bill for the paving materials.
Jeffrey noted a concern that the paving would have to be completed in a time frame that is both conducive to the paving and workable with Unit Road”s schedule. City representatives have expressed concern about the cost of the materials, and hope to get an estimate before moving forward with the project. The Commissioners” action allows for continued discussion and negotiation between the City and the County before road repairs begin.
In other business, County Fire Marshal Jeff Wright expressed concern about the Court”s decision to lift the outdoor burning ban last week.
“I”ve spoken to some of the volunteer fire chiefs in the county, and they are a little worried,” Wright said. “Even though the ground is wet, a lot of grass dried out after that freeze, and they think there is a significant risk for brush fires.”
Commissioners, however, bucked against the suggestion, noting that there have been more than six inches of rain in some parts of the county over the past few weeks.
“I really don”t think it can get much wetter than it is now,” Precinct Two Commissioner Charles Bullock said.
Precinct Four Commissioner Joe Roland echoed Bullock”s thoughts.
“If we can”t burn now, I don”t know when we”re ever going to be able to burn,” he said. “It”ll be hard for folks to understand if we put the ban back on after we”ve had all this rain.”
Wright noted that there have not been many grass fires reported, and agreed that conditions, while not favorable, are as good as they are likely to get.
The Court opted to leave the burning ban off for one more week, with the option of allowing County Judge H.T. Wright to order the ban reinstated if the risk factors and fire dangers increase before the panel”s next meeting.
Following several months of negotiation with the City of Lockhart and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with the two organizations that will allow TxDOT to move forward with the construction of a wetlands mitigation site in Caldwell County.
The project, designed to put wetlands destroyed by the construction of State Highway 130 and Interstate 45 back into the state”s “wetlands inventory.” TxDOT representatives chose the Plum Creek site for the mitigation area, and have been working with city and county representatives to determine how the site will be maintained after construction.
The negotiations have been a sore spot for some Commissioners over the last months, as the Court”s consensus was to have a “natural wetlands area,” while City of Lockhart representatives hoped to turn the area into a park.
The final agreement has the County and the City splitting the $400,000 “seed money” to be provided by TxDOT and splitting the mitigation site into two areas, the Natural Area and the Amenities Area. The County will be responsible for maintenance of the Natural Area, while the City will take responsibility for the construction and maintenance of amenities including playground equipment, picnic tables, restroom facilities and barbecue pits.
“I”m proud to say that we”ve finally come together as a community on this,” said Precinct One Commissioner Tom Bonn. Bonn has been an avid supporter of the project since it was introduced.
In brief news:
The Court discussed allowing an educational program which will include a tour of the Courthouse Clock Tower. Because of liability concerns, the discussion was tabled until the Commissioners can gather further information.
They took part in an hour-long Incident Command System training presented by Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Parker.
The County paid bills in the amount of $145,692.55, which included payment of $17,449.68 for indigent legal defense.
The Caldwell County Commissioners meet on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse.