By JESSIE HORTON
ERATH COUNTY (January 11, 2016) — If you notice a large military-like presence in Erath County in coming weeks, it probably isn’t what you think. No, it’s not Jade Helm. It’s the Texas State Guard practicing for emergency situations in Texas.
This is the sixth year the guard has come to Erath County for practice situations and both state, Tarleton and Erath County officials said they were pleased with the relationship and look forward to many more years of working together.
Officials with Tarleton State’s ROTC and the Texas State Guard were on hand during the Erath County Commissioners’ regular meeting morning to explain what their plan is. According to those officials, the guard will bring several battalions of soldiers and even medical staff to Erath County to practice an emergency evacuation plan for residents from West Texas.
State Guard and Tarleton officials will be talking to city, church and school officials in the next few weeks before the guard gets to town. Battalions will be coming in Thursday, January 21, with practice drills beginning that Friday morning. This year’s practice scenario is a severe winter storm moving into western and northern Texas, with emergency departments in those areas already strapped from severe droughts and earlier winter storms, residents are now being evacuated to Central Texas.
They will first fill the guard’s armory in Stephenville with evacuees on Friday. Then emergency shelters in both Stephenville and Dublin before evacuees will be moved into schools and churches in Stephenville, Dublin, Lingleville, Huckabay, Morgan Mill and possibly more. This will take place on Saturday with a flag raising ceremony to be held on Sunday morning, at the end of the practice drills.
In other business, the Erath County Commissioners approved the joint primary election, which will be held in March. According to Erath County District Clerk Gwenda Jones, both the Republican and Democratic Parties in Erath County have agreed to the joint primary. This means all polling locations and election workers will be shared by both parties for the primary.
Commissioners also approved Dr. Ed Dittfurth as the newest member of the Pecan Valley MHMR Board of Directors. Dittfurth is a Stephenville ISD trustee and is the pastor for Cornerstone Assembly of God in Stephenville. Erath County Judge Tab Thompson said Dittfurth would be replacing Alisa Starbird, who recently resigned from the board.
Before adjourning, the commissioners heard from Erath County Auditor Janet Martin, who offered the court her annual debt services report for the county. According to Martin’s report, “the indebtedness of Erath County for certificates of obligation is $5,132,000 and capital lease of $72,796.90. The certificates are dated May 27, 2010 with annual principal payments of $467,000 and $72,796.90. Payments are made from the Debt Service Fund. Regions Bank holds the certificates and TexasBank holds the capital lease obligation for the vehicles. The certificates of obligation are for the construction of the Erath County Jail Expansion and the capital lease is for the purchase of vehicles.”