By JESSIE HORTON
As temps drop lower, those with pets are thinking more and more about their animals and how to protect them from the elements of winter. While we animal lovers are thinking of our own pets, the hard-working volunteers of CARE (Community Animal Rescue Efforts) are concerned with all those who’ve been abandoned in the area.
Susan Wynne, with CARE, addressed the Erath County Commissioners’ Court Monday morning, advising the court of the various efforts by her organization in the Stephenville and Erath County area. Though the program is based out of Mingus and Palo Pinto County, Wynne said the volunteers do approximately 50 percent of their work in Erath County.
“We just want to help animals that don’t have a home find one, and we work with those who have pets already to take care of them,” she said. “We’re all volunteers and many of the board members, as well as the volunteers, are actually Erath County residents and we work in the county already.”
Wynne said the organization works entirely on donations and support from other programs. She said the Palo Pinto County Commissioners have CARE as a line-item on their agenda for a small portion of their budget to assist with the work CARE does in that county.
“We aren’t asking for a lot,” she concluded. “Just that the commissioners and the county consider adding us to your budget as well. Anything you can do to help us, will be greatly appreciated.”
Unfortunately for CARE, the Erath County budget for 2014-2015 has already been set and the county budgeted $18,000 for the Erath County Humane Society. But County Judge Tab Thompson said the county is aware of the good work CARE has done for local communities and the commissioners will consider the organization along with several others who’ve asked to be considered during the next budget session.
In other business, the commissioners discussed and passed replatting several lots in the Mountain Lakes Estates, south of Bluff Dale. According to court documents and Thompson, the owner of lots 869 and 870 asked the court to join the lots together in the replat. The second motion was to replat lots 1183, 1184 and 1185 in the residential development. Commissioners approved both replats unanimously.
The court also heard from Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant on two measures. The first included rescinding the previously approved 7K Exemption for Law Enforcement in Erath County. This was an older exemption approved by a previous county commissioners’ court, Thompson said.
“We passed this many years ago when the sheriff’s department at the time was having issues with too much overtime by deputies,” Thompson said. “This was before Sheriff Bryant was in office out there. Now we’re facing a much different issue with our sheriff’s department.”
According to Bryant and Thompson, the sheriff’s office is now somewhat shorthanded and needs to be able to pay officers overtime. With the previous exemption, the officers who had worked all their allotted hours could not work for more overtime, if their pay for regular hours exceeded $7,000. With the lift of the 7K Exemption, Bryant’s department can pay officers overtime, without issue.
Bryant and Thompson both agreed they would be quick to reenforce the exemption if and when the sheriff’s department again faces an issue with excessive overtime pay. However, both assured the court that was not a concern at this time.
Commissioners approved the measure and the side request that the measure be dated November 16, 2014, to cover the current pay period as well.
The commissioners also approved Bryant’s request regarding two older Crown Victorias that his department has been using for parts. He asked the court to give his office permission to declare what is left of the two vehicles as zero value to the county and send them to the Erath County Recycling Center.
“We’ve had these two Crown Vics for a while now,” Bryant advised. “And when they were no longer of use in service, we used them for parts on working vehicles and now that there isn’t anything else we can gain from them, we’d like to send them to Erath Recycling.”
Before adjourning, the court also discussed two different options for upgrading the county’s current phone system. According to Thompson, the equipment the county uses now can be repurposed and used for one system that is approximately $3,400 per month and the county would be responsible for any expense for repairs and the responsibility of running the system. This is similar to the system the county is currently using and is taking a majority of the county’s IT department’s time to maintain.
The other option, according to Thompson, is an Office Management System from CenturyLink in Stephenville. While this option will cost the county $6,504 per month, Thompson said CenturyLink would take on the responsibility for running the system, as well as the equipment maintenance and repair should an issue occur.
After discussion on best options and cost versus employee time and repair costs, the commissioners approved the office management system upgrade through CenturyLink.