It’s official. Liberty County has new dividing lines for the county’s four road and bridge precincts. After weeks of workshops and trying to work out lines that were favorable to all areas, and holding a public hearing, the four county commissioners, in a 3-1 vote, authorized the new map on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
Pct. 1 Commissioner Bruce Karbowski, Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur and Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Wilson voted in favor of the new precincts. Pct. 3 Commissioner David Whitmire, whose precinct is now significantly smaller due to a higher concentration of residents, was the lone vote against the map.
Redistricting is performed every 10 years based on the U.S. Census results. For Liberty County, the objective was to divide the county’s four road and bridge precincts into equal size based on population with each having roughly 21,749 residents.
Commissioners also set a date, time and place for a hearing pertaining to a petition to create a new emergency services district for the Plum Grove area. This proposed district would be Emergency Services District #8. Commissioners agreed to hold a meeting at 9 a.m. on Jan. 11, in the second floor county court at law courtroom in the Liberty County Courthouse. At this hear, commissioners will hear the merits and substance of the request, before making a determination as to whether or not the measure will be put on a future ballot for voters in that area.
If created, the new ESD could help generate funds for the beleaguered Plum Grove Volunteer Fire Department that has been burdened with responding to fires and emergencies in the rapidly-growing Colony Ridge communities.
County Attorney Matthew Poston reminded commissioners that this is the second time such a petition has been brought before the court. The first request was turned down because it failed to include the metes and bounds of the proposed district. The second petition apparently met all the requirements.
“There is also a 60-day period during which any city in the proposed district can asked to be included. Based on the public participation and what we saw last time, I believe the city [of Plum Grove] will give its consent,” Poston said.
Tax Assessor-Collector Richard Brown also mentioned that property tax statements should arrive in Liberty County mailboxes in the coming days.
“I know everyone is sitting on their hands waiting on the bills to come in,” Brown said jokingly. “We had to delay them going out because we had two entities in the last election that were asking for increases in their ad valorem taxes. “
Brown said the new style for the statements should be easier for taxpayers to read.
In other business, Commissioners Court:
- approved an interlocal agreement between Liberty County and Brady and Richelle Hanson for use of a property in the Lake Grenada community near Moss Bluff. The property will be used to store road and mowing equipment for Pct. 1;
- approved a payment to White Construction in the amount of $629,257.68 for construction manager at risk services for the new sheriff’s office and JP #3 annex that is being built on SH 146 north of Liberty;
- approved the solicitation of requests for qualifications for construction manager at risk services for the new county annex that is being planned for the Plum Grove/Colony Ridge areas;
- approved an interlocal agreement with the City of Dayton and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office for use of office space at 410 B. Main Street. The office will provide a place for deputies to work on reports and make work-related phone calls. No money is being exchanged in the agreement. The City of Daisetta, according to Asst. County Attorney Kathrine McCarty, is mainly hoping to improve police presence in that area; and
- approved an administration services agreement with Empower Retirement to complete the transition of 457 Plan assets currently with First Liberty National Bank, an agreement that was first brought up at the Oct. 12, 2021 meeting.
On behalf of the county attorney’s office, commissioners also accepted a $5,000 donation from the Shane Detwiler Foundation to be used to purchase tasers for County Attorney Matthew Poston’s four investigation.
“It’s a non-lethal way of obtaining compliance,” Poston said. “It’s another tool in the belt and we very much ask commissioners court to approve and receive this money.”