The Pecos County Commissioners Court met on Jan. 27 for its bimonthly meeting and had a special visit from Janet Groth's Midland College government and political science class.
The class visited to see first hand how local government works and get some advice on the voting process.
Precinct 1 commissioner Tom Chapman told the story of how his first race for commissioner came down to a coin toss.
“One vote does count,” he said.
They always explained if they were elected or appointed and how that process works.
Judge Joe Shuster said that he is going into his second year of his fifth term and he has been in the position for 18 years.
“I wanted to help better our community, Fort Stockton and Pecos County,” he said. “I wanted to bring integrity to the job.”
Before being on the commissioners court, Shuster was Mayor of Fort Stockton for 12 years.
One of his races also came down to the wire where he lost by 58 votes.
“Every vote does count,” he said. “That's a privilege you're given by being a United States citizen.”
County Auditor Kay Hardwick explained that she works independent of the body to keep finances on track and make sure no one person has too much power.
County Attorney explained to the class that government can also look different from one place to another.
Commissioner Mickey Jack Perry said that he has always been interested in government.
“It' always good to think about how you can move your community forward,” he said.
The county attorney and two commissioners had uncontested races for the 2020 election and Shuster reminded them to pay attention to what is happening.
“Get involved in your community and understand what's going on in the community you live in,” he said.
In other news”
• Karan Heffelfinger and Payton Keifer gave a presentation from Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service on their healthy Texas programs. Working on eating healthy, diabetes education and healthy aging are just a few of the programs they are working on. “We could not do our events without the support of the Pecos County Commissioners,” said Heffelfinger.
• The commissioners rejected bids for the Pecos County Coliseum improvements as they came in around $200,000 over budget for a second time. The project needed to be around $400,000 and the two bids came in at $595,000 and $574,000. “Maybe it's best we wait a year,” said Chapman. They decided to revisit when they do their budgets.
• The commissioners approved a predator control report from Trans-Pecos Aviation, LLC. for December where they got rid of 77 coyotes and 40 hogs.
• The court approved the purchase of an electrical PAPI panel for the Fort Stockton Airport using funds in the budget for $6,625.45. This will be an extra light for the end of the airport in case one burns up again since it takes a month to receive the item.
• The court approved placing three water diversions on Bob Hayter Ranch for protection of Hovey Road. Rain had previously ruined part of Hovey Road and this should help for the next time to protect the county road.
• The commissioners approved enrolling Pecos County employees in free state mandated cybersecurity training course fulfilling the Texas House Bill 3834.
• The commissioners approved a request from Precinct 3 commissioner Perry to purchase a 2020 Kenworth Dump Truck for $145,596.73 from buyboard with funds in the budget.
• The commissioners approved the purchase of an ambulance from Frazer Ltd. for EMS. They found one for a little over $180,000 and will trade in their old one and pay around $171,000.
• The commissioners approved allowing the 83rd District Attorney Sandy Wilson to purchase food and drinks for grand jurors and training officers. She expects the grand jury to meet around 24 times this year and will have around six officer trainings. The officer trainings will center around report training, search warrants,body cam etiquette, warrant-less traffic stops and more. “These trainings are vital for these officers,” she said.
• The commissioners discussed a Comanche Creek Easement/Right-of-way/ownership issue of Jerry Gordon's property in the 7D area. Mark Harral brought an issue forward claiming that the Pecos County Water Control Improvement District #1 owns 37.1 acres of land in Gordon's property. Harral did a search with EWA Title Inc. which claims the water district has ownership to creek beds and banks. This is causing an issue for the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District who are tasked with making a decision on where people can drill wells but the title must be accurate. MPGCD General Manager Ty Edwards wanted it all clarified with the county before making any future decisions. “These are all questions that need to be cleared up,” said Edwards. Shuster said he wanted to check with the Texas Association of Counties and advised the Gordon's to get it in writing from their title company that they own the entirety of the property. The Gordon's said their title company said they do but they will get an official title opinion. The issue the county sees is that nothing can be down if no claim for ownership is even started since PCWCID1 never filed an official claim. At this point the county said everything was hearsay evidence. “We're stuck in between,' said Shuster. The court took no action.
The Pecos County Commissioners Court meets the second and fourth Monday at 10 a.m. ay 103 W. Callaghan St.