By Don Bolding

Killeen Daily Herald

Bell County commissioners Monday morning proclaimed Wednesday as Disability Employment Awareness Day and announced the annual awards luncheon of the Bell County Judge and Commissioners' Committee on People with Disabilities at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Bell County Expo Center.

Residents of western Bell County receiving awards are Mindy Harris, receiving the Jennifer Phillips Award, and Capt. Rachelle M. Thomas, to be honored as Shirley Biels Health Care Worker of the Year.

Harris, a graduate of Harker Heights High School, is a freshman at Central Texas College who plans to enter nursing and hopes to work in oncology. The award, named for a student in Rockdale, is reserved for a young person who has not let disabilities stand in the way of success and for courage and spirit in the face of disabilities, committee chair Steve Rublee said. Harris also won a $1,000 scholarship cosponsored by the committee and the Temple Rotary Club.

Capt. Thomas, a physical therapist at Darnall Army Medical Center, has worked extensively with injured soldiers returning from Iraq to assist them in returning to duty or re-enter civilian life.

Honorees from other parts of the area and their awards are Allison Dickson, person of the year; Richard McGhee, Meritorious Service Award; Janice Gibbs, Media Person of the Year; Becky Ann Garth, Family Member of the Year; Gabriel Frampton, Pat Elliott Inspirational Award; and Alvaro Diaz, Educator of the Year. Diaz's award is posthumous.

Lampasas artist Cassandra Langdon, winner of the 2007 Artist of the Year award from the Texas Governor's Committee for Persons with Disabilities, will autograph posters of her painting titled "First Day of Spring."

The commissioners also proclaimed October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in the county.

In other business, they approved adding Appendix A15 to the Bell County Subdivision Regulations to allow combination of lots or parcels of land to facilitate construction of residences with septic tanks. They said more study is needed to determine where the actions need to be filed and whether new surveys will be needed, but Commissioner Richard Cortese said the primary need is around Morgans Point Resort, where lots of 7,000 square feet or less make the improvements difficult.

They also approved an addendum to the Bell County Employee Handbook about absenteeism and tardiness in the county engineer's office and the road and bridge department. County Engineer Richard Macchi said the move is to clarify the need for physician's documentation in certain cases of absence.

The commissioners approved the final plat for the 2086 Divide Subdivision, a three-lot, 13,979-acre development at the intersection of Farm Road 2086 and State Highway 53.

Contact Don Bolding at or call (254) 501-7557

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