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.

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