BELTON — The Bell County Commissioners Court tabled a motion Monday supporting the Elm Creek Watershed Authority’s application for federal and state funds to finance a $1.5 million repair of a small earthen dam, to fine-tune the motion’s language.

The authority plans to apply for $975,000 in federal funds and $525,000 in state funds to pay for the repairs. There were concerns that the motion, as presented, could leave the county footing the bill should either or both of the grant applications be denied.

A recent Texas Commission on Environmental Quality inspection of the dam, which is one of 45 floodwater retention devices constructed along the creek in the mid- to late-1970s, determined it needed what Bryan Neaves, county engineer, called “light maintenance.”

“There are some cattle trails that need to be gotten rid of,” Neaves said.

When the resolution was first presented to the commissioners at a May 5 workshop meeting, County Judge Jon Burrows clarified that the dam isn’t structurally compromised.

“The dam isn’t about to collapse,” Burrows said at the time. Initial discussions regarding the motion indicated the county might be able to contribute as little as $26,000 toward the repair.

Commissioners want the leeway to include in-kind contributions, such as labor or materials, as support, Neaves said.

“We aren’t going to commit to any funding at this time,” Neaves said. “(The commissioners) are showing support but they don’t want to commit to a certain amount of money.”

Jail passes state inspection

The commissioners also recognized the Bell County Sheriff’s Department and county jail for passing the Texas Commission on Jail Standards annual inspection.

This year’s certification marks 28 consecutive years without any problems. Both Burrows and Bell County Sheriff Eddy Lange spoke about the uniqueness of the occasion.

“This doesn’t happen often,” Lange said. Burrows added that a county jail not having any problems with the state commission for almost 30 years is rare.

“This is routine for us but it’s not common across the state,” Burrows said. “This is not a ‘take it for granted’ type of thing.”

The commissioners also voted to spend $7,000 to add razor wire to a fence connecting the detention courtyard and Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program Building 10 at the Bell County Juvenile Detention Center.

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