Saturday, March 2, 2024

Interlocal meeting held for Hood County to discuss needs of county and address future growth

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An interlocal meeting was held at Granbury City Hall to bring together local officials from across the county to discuss several topics on Feb. 1.

The meeting had members from the Granbury City Council, Granbury ISD School Board Trustees, and Hood County Commissioners Court. Cresson Mayor Teena Conway was also present. This meeting gave the opportunity for discussion to be had regarding several pressing issues that affect residents and taxpayers across the county.

“We are responsible for the next generation. It’s not about us, it’s about the future,” City Manager Chris Coffman said during the meeting and recommended all the elected officials work together to make the county better.

First, the meeting kicked off with a presentation from TxDOT’s Lorena Echeverria de Misi, manager of corridor planning branch, who presented findings of the US Highway 377 corridor. This corridor spans from Del Rio to the Texas/Oklahoma state line. According to TxDOT findings, freight tonnage is expected to grow exponentially by 82% in 2030. Hot spots for wrecks mainly fall within the DFW metroplex, but there are also hotspots in Granbury and Stephenville. With an expected increase in traffic due to the growth of the state, more wrecks and fatal crashes are expected across the 377 corridor.

Granbury City Council voted to approve funding to move forward with a thorough study to address the many needed improvements of Old Granbury Road.  An engineering service agreement was made with Teague, Nail, and Perkins, INC. (TNP), and the study fee will cost $228,000 plus additional services fees. This would entail the county funding 60% of the study, whereas the city will fund the remaining 40%. These percentages were calculated based on how much of the current road lies within the city limits. The study on Old Granbury Road is expected to roughly take around six months before designs and construction will take place, which can be expected to begin in roughly two and a half years. The Hood County Commissioners Court did not make a motion to vote on this agreement as they wished to discuss it further in Commissioners Court.

“In no time do we intend to anticipate making an agreement with TxDOT to make Old Granbury Road a detour route for 377 constructions,” Coffman said. “The strategic plan for the city is to create access parallel to 377 throughout the city to allow for locals to use those roads and possibly stay around 377.”

Ricky Reeves, Executive Director of Texas EMS, spoke during the meeting to inform them of the need for more funding to come into their 501c3. They currently operate out of two stations. According to Reeves, the plan is to add three additional stations throughout the county including a station in Indian Harbor, one out by Nettie Baccus Elementary, and one in the area of Acton Middle School. These stations were made possible from the funding of a grant by the Hood County Commissioners Court. Reeves pointed out that within the past week, they were operating below level zero. Level zero means no ambulances are available for the number of calls being received. Reeves added that they have been at level negative two within the past week meaning people were being put on hold and calls were dropping.

“Our county is going extremely fast, and the call volumes are picking up,” Reeves said during the meeting. “A lot of residents here are at the age in their life where health is an issue.”

Reeves also discussed the need for more equipment as their ambulances are outdated and could use upgrades and replacements. Reeves noted that EMS across the state of Texas are all lacking funding. Granbury Volunteer Fire Department Chief Matt Hohon also spoke to inform the entities of the need of additional funding to continue to operate.

“I put this on the agenda to make people aware of the tightness of funds that the Texas EMS is facing,” Coffman said. “The EMS really needs some attention and support from the community. We need to address this.”

Granbury ISD Superintendent Jeremy Glenn spoke on the continued growth expected within the school district. Glenn noted that though the bond failed by two votes, those needs addressed in the bond are still there. In particular, Glenn noted that with this strategic planning they are still looking at the need for an additional elementary school as well as more buses. The board has accumulated land out in the Cresson area and plans to eventually build in that area to better serve those students in that area. The board plans to continue to further develop the bond and make it something that the entire community can be behind. President of the board, Barbara Townsend added that the board is open to suggestions for creating the new bond.

The Christmas lights around the square were also brought up as there were many complaints from the community regarding the lights from the courthouse not being put up. Coffman noted that this was done after he learned the dangers of what it takes for these lights to come up. City council members and commissioner court members discussed a potential interlocal agreement to provide funding to bring in professionals to put these lights up. No action was taken but further discussion is expected to be had.

Sheriff Roger Deeds also talked about the jail system during the meeting and noted that they are running low on space as there has been a continual increase of inmates. The Commissioners Court noted that this is something they need to look further into and discuss further. The potential hospital district board tax was also mentioned as this goes hand in hand with jail inmate care. Hood County Hospital District Board CHD President Christy Massey noted that a tax is going to be necessary to keep the board running as well as indigent and inmate care. The board is continuing to look into the potential tax and do what is best for the board as well as taxpayers.

“I think the main thing we can from this meeting is to talk. Let’s keep talking with each other,” Mayor Jim Jarratt said.