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County approves road closures

The Ellis County Commissioners approved the closure of three county roads at Monday evening’s meeting for the purpose of constructing new bridges.
Pluto, Pecan Tree and Morgan roads within the limits of Mill Creek, Hog Creek Tributary and Onion Creek will be temporarily closed from July 2009 until April 2010.
The Commissioners recessed from their regular session to convene in a public hearing regarding a road name change. The road in question is currently named Askew Street and it is located in Ferris, which is part of Precinct 1. The proposed new name of the road is Moggie Lane, in honor of a longtime Ferris resident. The name change was requested by a number of residents who currently reside on Askew Street and submitted a petition with 10 signatures to the Commissioners’ Court. Moggie is the nickname of Howard Mogensen, who served in World War II and lived on Askew Street since moving to Ferris in 1987.
However, some Askew Street residents who spoke at the hearing did not want to go through the process of having a new address. Dennis Robinson, Precinct 1 Commissioner, said he knew that changing the road’s name wouldn’t be easy, but it is important to pay tribute to veterans.
“It does create some problems, but on the other hand, it’s an opportunity to honor a veteran,” Robinson said.
Robinson also said the hearing was the first time he had heard anything but positive comments about changing the street’s name. Heath Sims, Precinct 3 Commissioner, suggested the possibility of the road having an honorary name of Moggie Lane. The item will be voted on at a later date.
In regular session, Holly Davis, Special Projects Director, spoke to the Commissioners about an application for grant funds totaling $29,000 from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The money is to be used toward the purchase of a lower emissions vehicle for use in Constable Precinct 4. The new vehicle would be a replacement for a 1998 Crown Victoria currently used by Precinct 4. The commissioners approved the application. After the purchase of the vehicle, the remaining funds were approved to be used for the Regional Smoking Vehicle Program under the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG).
The burn ban that is currently in effect in Ellis County will be continued until further notice. The burn ban doesn’t apply if burning is used for agricultural purposes, but Sims said he wasn’t sure what was included in the exception. The commissioners were undecided as to whether or not to lift the burn ban.
“According to the dry index, we’re not at a critical stage,” Sims said. “I’ve talked to a couple of fire departments. They don’t have as much concern as they did a month ago. I think we should go ahead and lift the burn ban.”
Robinson disagreed with Sims. Robinson said he thinks the conditions haven’t changed much since the burn ban was enacted.
“I don’t see much difference from when we enacted it,” he said. “If we don’t get the rain, we might be enacting it again. We need to be consistent.”
After much deliberation, the Commission decided not to rescind the countywide burn ban.
Diana Buckley, from the Ellis County Department of Human Services, gave a presentation to the Commissioners about the Healthy County Program from the Texas Association of Counties (TAC). The program is aimed to keep county employees healthy and health insurance costs down. It offers a health risk assessment, personal health manager, a fitness challenge program, a 24-hour nurse line, support for tobacco cessation, a condition management program, a weight management program and a maternity management program. The Healthy County program is available to Ellis County employees currently enrolled in health benefits.
“It’s an exciting program,” Buckley said. “All of the employees who have seen the presentation are interested in signing up. There are not many times you can save money and do what is best for the people.”
The commissioners were interested in the program as well. Bill Dodson, Precinct 2 Commissioner, said that participating in the program would have a positive effect on county employees and the cost of health insurance.
“It’s a culture change,” he said. “It’s going to take support from the commissioners and department heads. I fully support it.”
Dennis Brearley, a representative from the Ellis County Sheriff’s office, presented the sheriff’s annual report and annual racial profiling report. In 2008, there were 3,000 total traffic stops in Ellis County, Brearley said. Of these, more than 2,100 were Caucasian, 256 were African American, 704 were Hispanic, five were Asian, and none were Native American. The total number of stops was down from 2007, which had 3,237 total traffic stops. Of those, again, more than 2,100 were Caucasian, 340 were African American, 725 were Hispanic, eight were Asian and none were Native American.
The lease of Ellis County handicap voting equipment to entities in Ellis County was approved for the April 25 Mountain Peak Water District Election and the May 9 city and school board elections.
The revised Tax Abatement Guidelines, Criteria and Procedures was approved and reaffirmed. The new guidelines specify that a person or entity wanting a tax abatement contact the municipality where the property is located before contacting the county. There is also a guideline that states that tax abatements can only be authorized on real property owned by the applicant. Assignment of a tax abatement cannot be made without approval from the Commissioners’ Court.
The Commissioners’ Court authorized Ellis County and the District Attorney’s office to file a civil lawsuit against Jimmy Lee Bollin. His property is in violation of the Texas Health and Safety Code. The lawsuit is intended to address an ongoing sanitation and environmental quality nuisance.
The commissioners heard a presentation from Robert Bergeron of R.W. Beck, an independent consulting firm, about a pilot program involving tire recycling. R.W. Beck would supply Ellis County with a trailer to collect old tires for a three-month trial period. The tires would be baled with wire, and could be used by the Texas Department of Transportation in their projects.
A variance was granted to Daniel Graham regarding a utility easement for the address of 145 Willow Bend Drive in Waxahachie.
The commissioners accepted a resignation of Debbie Scruggs from Avalon Emergency Service District #8.
County Judge Chad Adams was not present at Monday’s meeting.
The Ellis County Commissioners’ Court meets bi-weekly on Mondays on the second floor of the Ellis County Courthouse, which is located at 101 W. Main St. in Waxahachie.

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Posted by on Feb 24 2009. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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