Election headaches dominate County discussion
By LPR Staff
Question about ballot-counting mishaps dominated much of the discussion during Monday morning”s meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners Court.
Tax Assessor-Collector and election coordinator Mary Vicky Gonzales was on hand during the meeting to explain the pitfalls and errors that caused results in last week”s elect
ion to be delayed until nearly 4 a.m.
One of the main factors in the delay, Gonzales said, was the fact that some ballots were printed incorrectly and the ballot-counting scanner could not process them. Therefore, many ballots had to be “rebuilt” by a committee before they could be counted.
“Rebuilding the ballots takes a lot of time,” she explained. “But hand counting them would have been a massive undertaking and set us back even further.”
Apparently an error made by the company that printed the ballots placed some bar codes out of alignment, prohibiting the scanner from reading them correctly. Gonzales noted there was no way to tell, prior to feeding ballots into the scanner, which ballots might be problems.
“There were other counties that had the same problem,” said Caldwell County Democratic Party Chair Philip Ruiz. “They had their ballots printed by the same company that we did.”
The Commissioners will canvass the results of the election during their regular meeting next Monday. Any candidate that would like to seek a recount will have until two days after the votes are canvassed to file.
In other business, urged by residents of County Road 200, Commissioner Tom Bonn approached the panel to request a speed limit sign be placed on the road.
“People don”t know that we have houses out there,” said area resident Nancy King. “When they come down the road doing 50 mph or faster, it kicks up a wall of dust 10 feet high, and if the wind is blowing from the north, the dust blows right into our home.”
King noted that the only other residence on the road, also known as Wells Road, faced south and had the same problem with dust when the wind blows from the south.
Representatives from Caldwell County Unit Road committed to check the area, and the Commissioners will hold a public hearing to discuss setting a speed limit of either 25 – 30 mph on Dec. 11.
The Commissioners also discussed a change in the county”s volunteer fire departments and the funding they receive.
The now-defunct Uhland Volunteer Fire Department had been receiving a stipend from the county to aid in fire protection in the Uhland and Niederwald areas. However, since the department was disbanded, the City of Uhland entered into an agreement with Chisholm Trail Fire Rescue to protect the area. Chisholm Trail representative had asked Commissioner Neto Madrigal if the funds could be redirected.
However, the Maxwell Volunteer Fire Department also recently approached the Court requesting a change in the boundaries of their fire service area, based on the disbanding of the Uhland VFD. Their request was to make FM 2720 the boundary between Maxwell and Chisholm Trail territories, and divide the money equally. However, the Uhland territory taken over by Chisholm Trail is much larger.
In the end, Madrigal made a motion to move the boundary and split the money proportionally to the territory. The Commissioners agreed unanimously.
In brief news:
Bonn and Commissioner Joe Roland have been working with representatives of the City of Lockhart to strike an agreement regarding a 268-acre wetland reclamation project planned by the Texas Department of Transportation. According to Roland and Bonn, the county and the city are close to coming to an agreement on the project.
The Court rescheduled a public hearing regarding the creation of an emergency service district in the McMahan and Mid-County Volunteer Fire Department territories. A question about changes in the metes and bounds of the area to be covered by the ESD caused County Judge H.T. Wright to request the hearing be rescheduled.
The County paid bills in the amount of $492,954.93, including $19,913 for indigent legal defense.