GATESVILLE — Voting machines and hog traps drew the attention of the Coryell County commissioners Monday.

The commissioners agreed to purchase 10 slightly used Hart eSlate voting machines at a discount rate — $2,200 each instead of $3,500 for new machines.

Tax Assessor/Collector Justin Carothers, the county’s top election official, requested 20 machines to supplement the 70 eSlates currently in use, but County Auditor Ben Roberts advised buying only 10 to stay within the budget.

Carothers said the Hart company was offering more than 100 machines at the reduced rate, and “this would be a good time to get some.”

The machines were leased by multiple counties in Tennessee for use in the 2012 general election, Carothers said, and come with the same one-year warranty as the new machines.

Carothers is planning to go to a countywide voting scheme that would mandate electronic voting, eliminating a paper-ballot option.

Commissioners had little time to savor Coryell’s second-place finish in the Hog Out competition that earned the county a $15,000 state grant for feral swine abatement.

After waiting months for results of the grant competition, the county must submit a budget and spending strategy to the Texas Department of Agriculture by Friday.

“They tell us how we can spend the money,” said Commissioner Don Jones, who organized the local effort, “and we can’t put out a bounty.”

Last year, the county offered a $10-per-tail bounty for wild hogs and paid $5,000 in bounties.

Jones said the bounty was key to the success of the program that tallied 891 feral hogs taken, and he planned to use the winnings to continue the bounty in 2013.

“I am kind of put out with them,” Jones said of the TDA restrictions.

Ideas for the 2013 Hog Out effort included hiring helicopter crews to hunt hogs from the air or working with high school agriculture classes to construct hog traps that pig-plagued farmers and ranchers could borrow.

The commissioners voted to appoint Jones, County Judge John Firth and County Attorney Brandon Belt to submit the county’s plan by the Friday deadline.

In other action, the commissioners approved a contract with H-E-B to make the grocery chain an agent of the tax assessor/collector to issue motor vehicle license validation stickers.

The H-E-B stores in Copperas Cove and Gatesville will mark up the regular $1 fee and issue the stickers as soon as they get the software set up, Carothers said.

Contact Tim Orwig at

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