Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 in Review

Each year I like to take time to review or highlight some of the happenings in Mi;am County during the year. With 2009 just about in the record books there are several things that I feel have been significant during the past year.

Number one is that we survived another legislative session. This was one of those legislative years for Texas when a bunch of folks go to Austin for 140 days and attempt to create great havoc with local government.

This was an exceptional year for the legislature in that more bills than ever were filed, but very little "real" legislation was passed. There was so little getting done the Governor was forced to call a special session to make sure that the Texas Department of Transportation remained intact.

2009 was the department's year for Sunset Review, and the sun set before the legislature could get around to reviewing the agency. The special session continued the agency until the next regular session. After all, who would not want to continue a state agency that lost one billion dollars in an accounting error?

One of the biggest happenings in Milam County was the death of the Rockdale Loop Project. I am not exactly sure how long the project has been under consideration, but I do know that it created a lot of cussing and discussing among many of the local folks.

The loop is one of those issues that there are definitely two sides to. There was really no middle ground on this issue. Personally I have to side with those against the loop. History has shown what looping small towns can do to the local businesses. Then there are also those landowners whose property would be affected.

My biggest complaint with the project was the way it was handled by TXDOT. There was some public input, but very little "listening" by TXDOT to that input. It was more less this is the way it is going to be. Maybe next time the loop comes up, and there will be a next time it is just a matter of time, there will be land available south of town for the loop. A route across the reclaimed Sandow land would result in fewer individuals being affected by the loop and easier right of way purchase.

Housing of prisoners was another notable activity in Milam County in 2009. Aggressive efforts by Doug Veach Milam County Jail Administrator led to the housing of many inmates from other counties during the year. The results of his efforts brought over 350,000 dollars or revenue in for the county.

Another significant event for 2009 was the transition of Milam County law enforcement into the technology age. Concerted effort of the Commissioners Court and Sheriff's Office led to the purchase of laptop computers for all patrol cars.

In addition to the laptop computers we also contracted with a company named Cop-Sync for state of the art software. The new software allows access to a tremendous amount of information right in the car. Not only can they run all sort of checks on drivers and autos the software also allows the main dispatcher and other officers to know where each vehicle is at any particular time.

A final even, well actually more than just one event, was the receipt of a number of different grants during the year. Just over 837,000 dollars came int Milam County during the year. These grants were from a number of different Federal and State governmental agencies and programs. Some were reimbursement grants for funds expended during emergency operations and other grants have provided for equipment and training for our emergency responders.

All in all it has been a good year, and I would like to take time to wish each and everyone a very happy and prosperous 2010.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Census 2010

Several folks have asked me how often I intend to update, or re-blog or whatever the proper term is for posting a new blog, and the honest answer is that I really cannot say. Probably going to be one of those round-to-it things, or whenever something comes along that makes me feel like blogging.

Just finished a big family Christmas celebration with the wife's in-laws in Marble Falls. You never really know just how small a house is until you get everyone in for the holidays. Holidays are always a good time to update on just what family is doing. See the new additions such as children grandchildren spouses and sometimes even pets. Helps keep count of just how big the family is.

Speaking of keeping count there is something just around the corner that deals with keeping count and is important to each and every person in Milam County. For that matter it is important to each and every citizen in this country.

Census 2010 will begin in earnest next year, and preparations are already underway to make sure that we get a good count. This event that takes place every ten years is so important that planning began in 2007. It is essential that we get a good count in Texas and Milam County, because not only will it tell us who's here and how many of us there are it will also be the basis that federal funding is based on for the next ten years.

The 2010 Census is on the horizon and the U.S. Census Bureau wants to ensure that everyone is counted. In an effort to make sure that everyone is counted an immense education process is underway. By being informed about the census and better understanding the census process, residents are more likely to respond to the census questionnaire.

Complete Count Committees are one tool that is being used across the country to help increase Census response. The Complete Count Committee (CCC) Program is key to making this happen in communities all across the country. CCCs incorporate local knowledge, influence and possible resources to educate residents and promote the census through a locally-based and targeted outreach and promotion effort.

Everyone should make an effort to inform their friends and family about the importance of completing the 2010 Census. Many individuals are concerned about responding to the Census because they feel that the information contained in the Census might be used for something else. Federal law prohibits the disclosure of anyone person's individual information.

Another good thing about the 2010 Census is that this will be the shortest Census form ever. Also the simplest to complete. Take time to educate yourself and family and friends to the importance of completing and returning the 2010 Census form. It is important to the nation the state and Milam County.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

First Time Out

Here I go where I have never gone before. I’ve been playing with computers for a long time and have heard about blogs, but this will be my first my first attempt at blogging.

The idea came to me when I was looking for a way to stay in touch with folks in Milam County, and to let them know what is going on inside Milam County on a regular and timely basis. I do a regular radio program on the local stations KMIL and KRXT, and, until recently, I wrote a weekly column on county business in the two local newspapers.

But, there’s this pesky election coming up ... and, since I will be opposed in the general election, the local papers wanted to be fair and not give me any “free” press they weren’t prepared to give my challenger. Therefore, my column will be on hold for the duration of the election.

However, this put me at a loss for a way to stay in touch with folks in the county. I have always believed in trying to keep the public aware of what is going on in county government. After all, I work for you and need to keep the bosses up to date.

Anyway, the point is, I will post a new blog on Milam County government at least on a weekly basis, maybe more often, if I can get my head around this new-fangled medium. If you are "tuning in" for the first time, please will let your friends know about my blog because I really mean it when I say I believe the people need to know what their government does in their name.