By Lauren Cabral
and Mason W. Canales The Cove Herald
Coryell County Commissioners
Coveites made their voices heard at Tuesday's Coryell County Redistricting Public Hearing, expressing their concern and displeasure with the two proposed plans presented to them.
As it has been at each Coryell County Redistricting Committee meeting, the division of Copperas Cove was the main concern of most residents packed into the Copperas Cove Public Library's meeting room Tuesday night.
Model One splits Copperas Cove into three precincts, as existing lines do, while Wall 2 divides it into four.
County Judge John Firth took a vote at the end of the meeting, and most residents supported Wall 2, while others called for a new plan altogether that gave Copperas Cove an urban commissioner with a precinct drawn only within city limits.
Baylor law professors Michael Morriso and David Guinn have provided legal counsel to the committee. Morrison presented the plans Tuesday and said both met legal redistricting requirements.
The population was split with a maximum deviation of less than 9.9 percent between precincts, and minority influence was not diluted, nor was one minority packed into one precinct to diminish its influence in other precincts.
For months, the committee has met to consider options for redrawing the county's precinct lines to fairly split the 67,722 population of Coryell County.
It originally considered four and selected two for consideration by the public.
Morrison and Guinn composed the first two, while Commissioner Jack Wall requested two more be drawn to enhance representation in Copperas Cove.
Model One draws the lines so the maximum deviation from the ideal population of 16,930 in each precinct is 521, and on average is 104.
It also gives Copperas Cove residents a majority of representation in Precinct 1 (73.88 percent of voters) and Precinct 4 (65.5 percent), but a lower percentage in Precinct 2 (46.54 percent) and Precinct 3 (1.02 percent).
Wall 2 shows a maximum variation of 1,153 from the ideal, with an average variance of 230.
It gives Copperas Cove residents a majority of representation in Precinct 1 (71.1 percent) and Precinct 4 (62.65 percent), but less in Precinct 3 (36.15 percent) and Precinct 2 (12.89 percent).
Many residents said the lines diluted their influence in county politics, since Copperas Cove was so heavily divided.
"Is there anything that says we can't have a precinct in Copperas Cove?" Copperas Cove Mayor John Hull asked, adding he knew other cities such as New Braunfels had their own representative.
Morrison said there was not, and Hull responded such a plan would likely not be approved by the Commissioners Court.
"That would cut one (commissioner) anyway, because none of them live in Copperas Cove," he said.
Copperas Cove Councilman Jim Schmitz, also a member of the redistricting committee, said he and other Cove representatives ultimately had decided to support Wall 2 since it was the closest thing to having as much representation as possible.
"It may not look like it, but in Precinct 3, there'd be 82 percent of people that … live in Copperas Cove."
Wall was applauded when he said he tried to represent Cove residents by requesting alternate plans be drawn to the first two presented to the committee, one of them Wall 2.
"The reason Wall 2 is on this is I'm the one that went over there and stood up for y'all," he said.
Fred Chavez, treasurer of the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation board of directors, said he was not satisfied with either plan.
"We're a significant population center with absolutely no representation," he said.
Other residents brought up the fact of the lack of voter participation in Copperas Cove, and said that should be focused on as well.
Firth thanked the residents for their participation and said the Commissioners Court should decide on a plan to approve within the next month, which would then be sent to the Justice Department for approval.
He said getting the plan sent by mid-August was important so those filing for the 2012 election would know what precinct they fell under.
Kempner City Council
KEMPNER - The City Council agreed Tuesday to raise solid waste collection for residential customers by 4 percent.
About 155 homes will pay $15.98 for trash pickup, up from $15.37, said Wiley Dugger, representative for IESI, Kempner's solid waste collection provider.
IESI, which operates in about 50 percent of the city hasn't asked for a rate increase since about 2008, Dugger said.
The council also listened to resident Robert McKinnon, who questioned how one paid police officer could patrol the whole city.
His concerns stemmed from drivers speeding on his residential street.
Isenhour explained that 24 cents per $100 of property tax revenues fund two employees at City Hall and pay for the police chief, maintaining three police vehicles and uniforms for the city's reserve officers and more.
The police department is aware of the speeding problem on County Road 4804 near where McKinnon lives, and even knows which residents are mainly responsible for it, he said.
"It is a matter of catching them, and they have been warned," Isenhour said.
The council also:
presented Kempner Iron and Metal with a certificate of appreciation for help with the city's park and city events.
presented the Moose Riders Club with a certificate of appreciation for helping clean up the city park.
heard a construction update about the city park and the new City Hall facility from Isenhour.
Lampasas City Council
LAMPASAS - The City Council approved some rewording of a resolution and notice for a $2 million bond package Monday night.
Bart Fowler, with McCall, Parkhurst & Horton LLP, told the council that the new language it selected would help protect against residents rejecting the bond package and also allow some broadness on how to use the $2,010,000 it needs to buy vehicles and equipment and several capital improvement projects.
According to the new notice, the money would be spent on purchasing equipment or vehicles for the fire department, making improvements to the city's golf course, acquiring city equipment and vehicles for the public works department, repairing or upgrading parks and recreation buildings, improving the city's water and wastewater system, and improving the electric infrastructure for the city's electric distribution system.
The way the certificates of obligation, or the bond package, work is that the city must spend the money it receives in the loan on the projects it states in the certificate before it can spend the money on other projects, Fowler told the council.
The council also:
rejected all the bids for the construction of a concrete channel and driveway improvements on East North Avenue.
granted a variance for a sign in the 200 block of South Key Avenue, and awarded the contract for moving the sign to All American Signs for $3,450.
awarded the contract for hot mix asphalt paving of East Avenue G and Bridge Street to APAC Texas Inc. for $88,105.
awarded the purchase of UV disinfection system to Livingston Micrographics LLC for about $6,000.
awarded the purchase of pulse light approach slop indicator for the airport to DeVore Aviation Corporation.
approved the Lampasas Adult Softball Association to access the Turner Complex.
awarded the purchase of a Tough Book laptop computer for $4,487 using mostly a $4,000 grant.
approved the first reading of an ordinance that would increase the cost of black and white printing and copying at the library to 15 cents and the cost of color printing, copying and scanning to $1.