By Alicia Lacy

Killeen Daily Herald

GATESVILLE – As doses of H1N1 vaccine begin to arrive in the county, swine flu continues to be prevalent in the state, as well as the nation, so Coryell County officials are keeping a close eye on the national pandemic.

County Emergency Management Coordinator Phil Yarbrough said the county has received a national stockpile of medication for people who cannot afford to pay for treatments.

He said physicians can write "state/national stockpile" on the bottom of the prescription to get the medication for free, at Walgreens in Copperas Cove.

Though the county has had a number of cases of the swine flu, "we're not at an epidemic-type proportion," Yarbrough said.

"A lot of people have flu-like symptoms that may or may not be the flu," he said. "One problem that we have is that the CDC has discontinued testing except for the extreme cases."

Coryell Memorial Hospital received 100 doses of the vaccine and immunized its health care providers, and Yarbrough said an additional 250 doses are expected to come in for first responders.

According to the Department of State and Health Services, 610 doses of the vaccine have been ordered by non-public health agencies and 1,454,334 doses statewide, as of Oct. 30.

Priority groups for the vaccine are pregnant women, children between 6 months and 4 years old, people under 18 with underlying medical conditions, health care providers and people with close contact to children 6 months old and younger, the CDC's Web site stated.

"Back in the '70s, swine flu was a pandemic in the United States," Yarbrough said. "Most people over the age of 30 have been exposed, so they're not having severe difficulty with this process, but those under the age of 30 received the greatest fatalities."

The court discussed developing and approving tax-abatement guidelines in order to entice business and industry to locate within the county.

At the last commissioners court meeting, the court approved a resolution to adopt tax-abatement guidelines after the Legislature extended the Property Redevelopment and Tax Abatement Act until September 2019, which authorizes counties and cities to approve new tax-abatement agreements.

Travis Hipp, president of Attic Breeze LLC, spoke to the court about Attic Breeze and Texas Solar Supplies relocating from their home bases near Houston to the Gatesville area.

Hipp said Attic Breeze, which specializes in solar attic fans and ventilation products, will employ a minimum of 10 people and Texas Solar Supplies will initially hire three and expand to eight by the end of 2010.

"We have a lot of opportunity for employment," he said of the two companies that focus on alternate energy.

Hipp requested a five-year tax exemption from the court and afterward phasing the exemption out year-by-year for five years.

County Judge John Firth said once guidelines and criteria are approved, the county can begin negotiations.

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