By Anthony Scott

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON - Bell County commissioners formally accepted $285,000 in grant money from the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense at their meeting Monday.

Officially called the Task Force on Indigent Defense FY2011 Technical Support Award, the grant money will go toward programs aimed at providing training, mentorship and evaluations for court-appointed attorneys.

"This is all for indigent defendants," said Linda Ingraham, director of pretrial services for Bell County. "These attorneys who will be trained are only for the indigent, so what that will do is give them an attorney who can better represent them.

"That's why we're doing this. They need qualified attorneys so they can get better legal representation."

As many of the attorneys in the county age, Ingraham said the grant money will help foster a mentorship program that trains younger attorneys to handle cases.

"What we're trying to do is make sure we have the best representation for everybody," she said. "If it's a felony 2, we want to make sure we have an attorney to handle a felony 2."

Burn ban continues

One of the worst droughts on record in Texas history continues as fire conditions worsen across the sun-beaten region. As a result, commissioners will not lift the county's current disaster declaration and outdoor burn ban - including fireworks.

The commissioners considered the disaster declaration it issued June 16 and the outdoor burning restrictions it imposed June 20. They are set to expire July 25.

County Judge Jon Burrows said no action will be taken as the hot and dry weather continues; however, the court will review both the disaster declaration and the burn ban on a regular basis.

About 15 people attended the meeting.

Contact Anthony Scott at (254) 501-7568 or at

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