Commissioners approve public safety community plan

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During the Dec. 16 Austin County Commissioners Court meeting, County Judge Tim Lapham addressed a mistake made during the Nov. 28 meeting.

“I’ve always said that if I mess up, I will take the blame for it. We pulled the preliminary project costs instead of the actual costs [during the last meeting],” Lapham said.

During the Nov. 28 meeting, the projected cost was given as the preliminary cost.

While the Way program projected cost was $400,000, the preliminary cost is $883,000. Way’s program will generate savings of $111,060 a year, which will fund a facility improvement program.

The savings over 15 years is projected to be $958,645. The financial assumptions include a 12 and half year pay off, no cash up front and a 3.36 percent interest rate.

Pct. 3 Commissioner Randy Reichardt was reappointed to Combined Community Action for a one-year term.

Frank Monk, Gordon Goebel and Andrew Sowa were reappointed as commissioners for Drainage District 1 for a two-year term.

Chris Haczynski was appointed commissioner for Emergency Services District 1.

Jeremy Waters and Johnetta Scheh were appointed commissioners for Emergency Services District 3.

Dennis Kulhanek and Tony Salazar were appointed commissioners for Emergency Serives District 3.

Bids were awarded for the Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant which is purposed for the Bernard Road Project 3. The type A grade two-base limestone bid was awarded to Colorado Materials, Ltd. The emulsion stabilization oil bid was awarded to Emulsion Plants, LLC.  The emulsion prime oil material bid was awarded to Martin Asphalt.

The court approved action to adopt a 2016-17 criminal justice community plan. The incorporated communities in the plan are Sealy, Bellville, Wallis, Industry, San Felipe and Brazos Country.

The purpose of the plan is to identify gaps in services regarding criminal justice issues. The final draft for this plan was completed in Dec. 2016 and it is noted in the plan that it is still a work in progress.

The top priority issue regarding juvenile issues is a need for more after-school, evening, and summer programs for at-risk youth. The plan lists a potential solution to continue and increase funding and expansion of services.

Other problems identified include a need for counseling facilities for youth and families, need for teenage pregnancy programs outside of school districts and a need for emergency shelters and foster care homes.

The top priority regarding law enforcement is a need for new and updated communication equipment for officers.

According to the safety plan, “With the advancement in technology, smaller size agencies struggle financially with enhancement and replacement of old and outdated equipment essential in providing for the safety and protection of the citizens as well as the officers themselves in Austin County.”

Other problems identified included:

The top priority for community issues is a need to maintain organized after-school, spring break, evening and summer programs for youth.

The data in the plan said the Boys and Girls Clubs of Austin County have been the primary provider of these services. Additionally, local churches also provide limited services for youth and the YMCA provides these programs for the Sealy area.

The plan also states that “more is needed to occupy the youth of Austin County to channel their energies into more positive lifestyles. Extended hours are needed through Boys and Girls Club for evenings and weekends.”

Other community issues listed include need for alcohol/substance abuse awareness, education and counseling programs and juvenile/adult crime prevention education and awareness programs.

The top prioritry for victim issues in the plan was a need for sexual assault/domestic violence prevention and victim assistance programs to include legal advocacy.

The plan states as the “demand for services has increased for victims of sexual assault in Austin County legal advocacy is greatly needed for both victims for family violence and sexual assault in Austin County.”

Other problems identified include a need for emergency protective orders and a need for collaboration among victims of crime, advocates and law enforcement.

Top priority for school issue is a need for additional school resource officers. Only Sealy ISD has a resource/police officers. All other schools in the county rely on local police for incidents that involve criminal activity.

Bellville ISD had 21 calls for assistance and Brazos ISD had 45 calls during the 2014-15.

The plan lists a potential response to the problem is ‘expansion of additional officers to Bellville ISD and Brazos ISD would greatly improve the safety and attendance of students.’

The mental health issues top problem identified was a need for long-term care for mentally ill and mentally challenged with disabilities.

The plan lists a potential response to the problem as “Texana is the Behavioral Healthcare Clinic which sees the demand for increased services in an area not serviced by any other mental health care facility.”

Each year, commissioners approve an annual community plan, which will hopefully lessen crime-based elements across the county.

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