By Bonnie Arnold at the Hill Country Community Journal, Dec. 19, 2020
Kerr County Commissioners voted approval in their regular meeting Dec. 14 for the Kerrville-Kerr County Airport Board to move funds into capital projects to repair damaged hangar doors; banned sales and use of certain fireworks during the Christmas/New Year’s season, due to drought conditions; and approved earnest money on acreage off Spur 100 as the site of a new Animal Control facility and expanded Road & Bridge storage yard.
Airport hangar door repairs
After delaying this decision from a previous meeting, commissioners had another discussion with Airport Manager Mary Rohrer about her request for permission to move $400,000 from the airport’s fund balance into capital projects, to repair two large hangar doors damaged in a windstorm.
Commissioner Tom Moser, who asked for the delay to look at the project’s engineering needs, said when he went to examine the hangar and doors, he found they need to repair both doors, not just one. He said the hangar is a divided building inside and both doors are needed for access by pilots and their planes.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the airport board re-allocating funds for this major repair project; and Rohrer thanked them for their decision.
Sale, use of fireworks
In a discussion required by the calendar, commissioners briefly discussed taking action on possibly prohibiting the sale and use of restricted fireworks in any portion of the unincorporated area of Kerr County, “pursuant to Local Government Code 352.051,” for the December fireworks season.
This followed discussion at the start of the meeting about commissioners keeping or reinstating the burn ban in all their precincts, due to extremely dry conditions. Monday’s court order said drought conditions and the normal fire danger is being greatly increased in existing conditions.
They passed a ban saying no person may sell, detonate, ignite or in any way use fireworks classified as “skyrockets with sticks” or “missiles with fins,” according to the order they passed, but does not prohibit “permissible fireworks” under this law.
This order expires on the date the Texas Forest Service says drought conditions no longer exist in the county, or on Jan. 1, 2021.
Real estate contract, Spur 100 property
Commissioners voted unanimously to accept a real estate contract for 15-plus acres at 199 Spur 100 and to disburse their earnest money for the property. They said they know the property between a cemetery, the VA and Road & Bridge offices is partially in the floodplain, but their intended use is for R&B storage of materials and vehicles, and a new site for Kerr County Animal Services.
They also said Road & Bridge hopes to create a new entry/exit road on Spur 100, as their current access to State Highway 27 now is a single driveway onto SH27, a traffic hazard at rush hour times.
Brenda Hughes from Kerrville Pets Alive congratulated them on this decision.
Constable, Precinct 3
The court voted to appoint Kenneth Wilke to the position of Kerr County Constable, Pct. 3, to fill the vacancy when Paul Gonzalez first declared for this post in the November election, then decided he wanted to remain the school resources officer at Tivy High School.
Wilke’s regular term will start on Jan. 1, 2021, when newly elected and appointed county officials are sworn in. In the meantime, Wilke has been fulfilling the constable duties as necessary, commissioners said.
Legal services, 2021 redistricting
Commissioners briefly discussed how to approach near-future redistricting of the four Kerr County precincts, as a result of the 2020 Census. County Judge Robert Kelly said he’s received at least three major solicitations from attorneys and legal firms experienced in this work.
Court members asked if it appeared it would cost the county about the same amount as previously; and Kelly said yes. Presentations from those legal firms to commissioners are possible; and they need to know the probable costs.
There was a brief discussion of precinct boundaries following identifiable physical things including roads, electrical lines and/or the river; and Harley Belew also noted they previously discussed how each precinct needs to have a part of the City of Kerrville in its boundaries.
Kelly will coordinate presentations to be made to commissioners.
Storage server, SO
Bruce Motheral, county IT director, told commissioners the Sheriff’s Office must have a new “storage server,” an unbudgeted item, as the current Tyler Technologies “Odyssey” server will not do the new required crime reporting that matches the new national “statistical reporting.”
Hierholzer added that the Kerr SO must be on the new system to qualify for federal grants for equipment and special projects; and in any case their current system is “maxed out” for space for future data.
He told the court he has enough money in his “seizure fund” to pay for $12,000 of the approximately $18,000 cost. Commissioners voted unanimously to pay the balance of the costs out of the county contingency fund.
TxDOT, mailbox turnouts
Commissioners had a discussion with Marshall Heap from Texas Department of Transportation on constructing “mailbox turnouts” for residents on county easements, and problems occurring when there literally isn’t enough road and easement width for residents to maneuver up to their mailbox, then turn around to leave.
Courtesy placement of mailbox turnouts by TxDOT often has been provided up to now, but Heap said when some rural residents have asked, there already have been too many boxes in the right-of-way. He knows some who asked for Post Office numbered boxes, and were told there were no empty ones available.
TxDOT would like to move to providing “multi-box clusters” erected on new pads away from the road right-of-way. Heap and County Engineer Charlie Hastings said they were trying to get a conversation started on this, and not asking for action Monday, but developers in the county have to participate in this, too.
Status, Ingram City Council, resignations
This discussion item concerned a report to commissioners from Kathy Rider, newly appointed City of Ingram mayor, about recent developments in that incorporated town. Rider said she recently was appointed mayor, that such squabbles as happened recently happen in cycles there and the town “continues to experience growing pains.”
Rider said she and her city council hired Carol Twiss, a longtime Kerr County Sheriff’s Office officer, as Ingram’s new police chief; and they are taking applications now to replace the police officers who resigned.
“There are hurt feelings and I hope to settle those things amicably,” Rider said. “As mayor I’m the chief of day-to-day operations. We are not ‘unincorporating’ the city, but we have a lot of work to do. I don’t think people realize we’re operating under a deficit budget and have been for a couple years.”
She said the city has a 1,857 official population, and is set up for five city council positions plus the mayor (who doesn’t vote under their rules). Rider also said two more council seats might be vacated.
Precinct 4 Constable-Elect Brad Rider is helping in the meantime, too.
E. Kerr Wastewater project
Commissioners discussed four agenda items related to East Kerr/Center Point Wastewater Project, and passed all four of them with unanimous votes. One approved a certificate of completion for a contract under Phase I. Another approved a change order under Phase I. Another tentatively awarded a contract for construction in Phase II to the same D. Guerra Construction, LLC, low bidder for this phase. The fourth one tentatively awarded a contract for Phase III construction to the same contractor, pending approval of the Texas Water Development Board in Austin.
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