By Don Bolding

Killeen Daily Herald

In the wake of rainfall totaling more than an inch Sunday night in many parts of Central Texas, County Judge Jon Burrows lightheartedly lifted for 72 hours a month-long outdoor burning ban imposed by county commissioners a week ago Monday.

With chances of more rain assessed at 70 percent Monday and Tuesday, Burrows said, "We'll wait and see; I might lift it for 72 hours again later in the week."

The ban imposed by commissioners allowed them to shorten or to extend the ban or, alternately, for a 72-hour interruption of the ban by executive order of the judge. He was not required to take the action during a commissioners' meeting, but all of them were celebrating the rainfall.

The 72-hour hiatus expires Thursday morning.

In other business, commissioners approved nearly $3.4 million for the 2007 annual road work and seal-coat plans presented by county engineer Richard Macchi.

The seal-coat plan details slightly more than $1 million in repairs scheduled for 27 lengths of road in Precinct 1 costing a total of $190,428; 38 jobs in Precinct 2 totaling $346,241; 35 jobs in Precinct 3 totaling $362,234; and 13 jobs in Precinct 4 totaling $108,410.

Regarding the amounts allocated, Macchi noted that some precincts are more populous than others, and added that the ground in some areas is harder than in others, so less maintenance is required.

The work plan also involves about $2.4 million worth of road work other than seal coating. including new construction, reconstruction, structure replacement and paving, among other work. In Precinct 1, 12 jobs are scheduled totaling $753,000; in Precinct 2, nine jobs totaling $268,000; in Precinct 3, 28 jobs totaling $904,000; and Precinct 4, three jobs totaling $231,000.

The county precincts include: Precinct

1, represented by Richard Cortese; Precinct 2, represented by Tim Brown; Precinct 3, represented by Eddy Lange; and Precinct 4, represented by John Fisher.

Commissioners voted to enter negotiations with Engineered Air Balance Co., Inc., for testing and balancing services, including the Bell County Jail Addition project. Assistant county auditor Russell Williams said the company was the only one that answered advertisements, and it supplied 10 references. He said the first three checked supplied "glowing" responses about the company.

Commissioners also received a certificate from Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams honoring the county for dedicating a lever voting machine used in elections here from 1965 to 2005 for historical display in Austin.

A recent ceremony in Austin included Judge Burrows; all four commissioners; county tax assessor-collector Sharon Long; district clerk Sheila Norman; county clerk Shelley Coston; justice of the peace Ted Duffield; State Sen. Troy Fraser; and retired county clerk Vada Sutton.

Commissioners also scheduled a public hearing as part of

the 9 a.m. meeting April 2 on abandonment of right-of-way for Wilkerson Valley Road, now fenced off and unused. They also released Letter of Credit No. 538 in the First State Bank Central Texas for $12,500 for the warranty of improvements in Mill Creek Springs, Phase V.

In a work session after the meeting, commissioners and other officials viewed a video presentation by Donald Olson, senior vice president of the architectural firm of Wiginton Hooker Jeffry, about the appearance and security of the new jail addition.

Olson said the building is designed to minimize the need for jail personnel while maximizing security. Two guards will be able to see all four pods from a mezzanine floor enclosed by glass tested against the impact of .357 magnum ammunition. Three pods will allow 28 prisoners each in a day room, where they also will eat, and another room with extra security measures is available for up to 20 problem prisoners.

The high-security wall around the building will be inside a walkway that maintenance personnel will use, circumvented by an outside wall that will seal off outside views of the jail. The building also will house an exercise area.

The display of the common areas showed part of a 658-bed addition on Loop 121 in Belton, which is designed to alleviate jail overcrowding that has threatened Bell County's continued state certification.

Commissioners also decided to install high-speed Internet lines temporarily in Harker Heights and Killeen, which are served now by dial-up lines, and to review the ages of laptop computers used by county employees prior to the upcoming May 12 constitutional amendment election.

The amendment would allow the Legislature to set a cap on ad valorem taxes for senior citizens, and lawmakers want the new authority in May – if voters approve – so they can pass legislation required during this session, regardless of the added expense and inconvenience to the state's county governments.

Commissioners decided last week to ask permission from the Secretary of State to hold the election at early voting sites instead of voting places used in November general elections.

Cortese said, "Whatever we need, we need to go ahead and get."

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

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