By Alicia Lacy
Killeen Daily Herald
GATESVILLE – Monday morning, the Coryell County Commissioners Court moved forward on several projects that have been on the agenda for the past few months including the U.S. Highway 190 bypass, a new jail facility and the county's annexation into the Middle Trinity Groundwater Conservation District.
To get the ball rolling on the long-awaited northeast bypass, the court approved the payment of $29,300 to the Texas Department of Transportation for the county contribution for utility adjustments.
"This is our contribution to allow TxDOT to move forward," County Judge John Firth said.
"It's the only thing funded because we don't have the southern bypass funded at this point."
The northeast bypass is 3.2 miles of roadway between U.S. Highway 190 and North Farm-to-Market 116.
During a recent Copperas Cove City Council workshop, Richard Brown, TxDOT's area engineer, said the southeast bypass project should be shovel-ready in September.
However, funding for both projects is still unavailable.
The southeast bypass is 6.2 miles of roadway that extends from the east end of U.S. Highway 190 to the intersection of FM 2657 and West U.S. Highway 190. The bypass will have access points at FM 116, FM 3046, FM 2657 and Old Copperas Cove Road.
With the need for a new jail facility evident, the court tabled the item to appoint members to the Coryell County Public Facilities Corporation Planning Committee pending an attorney who will be willing to serve on the committee.
During the last court meeting, commissioners discussed creating a seven-member board made up of three county residents, Commissioners Jack Wall and Elizabeth Taylor, Sheriff Johnny Burks, Lt. Kenneth Green, the county's jail operations commander, and Jim Schmitz, the president of the National Bank of Central Texas-Copperas Cove.
Because of Wall's and Taylor's familiarity and work with the project, Green's experience with jail operations and overseeing the development of jail projects, Schmitz's financial background and Burks' position as the sheriff, the five were suggested to be on the committee.
Alternately, the court discussed six people they want on the committee, which includes the previous five and Gatesville resident Donna Taylor.
Wall later suggested an attorney be appointed to the committee.
The public facilities corporation is a funding avenue the court has discussed the past month for a new county jail facility.
The county is researching options to build a jail on land from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice because of overcrowding issues.
TDCJ is required to transfer the title to the county by Nov. 1.
Monday, the court approved an election services agreement contract between the county and the Middle Trinity GCD.
In June, the Legislature eliminated the Tablerock Groundwater Conservation District.
The court is now in the process of becoming a part of the Middle Trinity GCD, which consists of Erath, Bosque and Comanche counties.
County voters will have the opportunity to vote in November on whether the county joins Middle Trinity GCD.
According to Firth, if the county does not become a part of a multi-county groundwater conservation district, the state will mandate which multi-county GCD Coryell County will join.