February 26, 2008

Commissioner vote helps wind energy

Commissioners voted Monday to clear the way for a series of industrial sized wind generators to be built in the Wolf Ridge area, located northwest of Gainesville.

In business, the Commissioners voted 4-0 to accept a roadwork proposal from the Wolf Ridge Wind Project to prepare certain county roads for large trucks to haul parts and equipment for the titan wind turbines.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Virgil Hess was not present.

Road improvements, according to a list provided to the Commissioners Court and the County Judge prior to the meeting, include: widening the intersections of County roads 430 and 425, 477 and 431, and 431 and 457; widening portions of CR 425, 430 and 477 for about a mile; and adding an additional 4,000 feet east of the intersection of CR 431 and 477 to CR 431 and 457.

David Tenan of the Wolf Ridge Wind Project said with trailers hauling parts for the 125,000-pound nacelles a greater turning radius would be necessary than what is currently available on the mostly gravel country roads.

“The area is not used to seeing that much traffic,” he said.

Tenan said the intersections and roads would only be temporarily widened and brought back to original condition as soon as the building project is completed. He said the project received permission from many adjacent property owners to widen the roads past county-owned property.

County Judge Bill Freeman advised Tenan to draft contracts indemnifying the county and utility companies before work begins. He urged the company to preserve drainage ditches and not to dig under fence lines, among other admonitions.

Tenan estimated the total cost of the improvements would be $250,000, to be paid for by the Wolf Ridge project.

In other business, the Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve four sealed bids for new patrol cars for the Cooke County Sheriff’s Department. One bid was received from Klement Ford of Muenster.

The four vehicles would cost a total of $87,303.80. The trade-in would have knocked $1,400 off the total, but Commissioners decided previously to sell them at auction.

Though the model of the vehicle was not released, the Commissioners assumed the bid was for four 2008 Crown Victorias equipped with police interceptor extras.

In other business, the Commissioners voted 4-0 to give the Department of Public Safety 90 days notice that changes will be made to the current lease contract for what’s often referred to as “the old bank building.”

A building on the southwest corner of the Commerce and California street intersection, which formerly housed First State Bank, is now home to the Department of Public Safety offices and document storage for the county. Freeman said the space is leased to the DPS for a “nominal fee” of about $600 a month, which barely covers utilities costs.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Al Smith said he is in favor of keeping the lease with the DPS in order to keep the office downtown, which helps commerce along the square. Freeman appointed a committee of Smith and Gary Hollowell to look at the lease situation, evaluate costs and make a recommendation.

In other business, the Commissioners voted unanimously to approve clearing fence rows for Jane Stout on CR 156 and Ben O’Neal on CR 107, both properties located in Precinct 1.

Ken Arterbury, Dexter area resident, asked Hollowell what the clearing would consist of, and why clearing the fence row is a priority. Hollowell responded before Freeman interjected that Commissioners are not compelled to answer the public during comments. Hollowell added, simply, that he has intentions to continue maintaining the roads.

Prior to business, Commissioners and those present watched a near-hour long presentation from the Texas Cooperative Extension, which County Extension Agent Wayne Becker said changed its name to “AgriLife Extension.”

Becker, the agriculture and natural resources Extension agent, with the help of a computer slide show presentation reviewed the number of contacts made in 2007 and other data, and gave a general overview of the Extension program.

Angel Neu, Better Living for Texans coordinator and an Extension agent, reported on her program, which offers continuing education to child care workers and food preparation workers.

Phyllis Griffin, 4-H Coordinator and Extension agent, deferred to the leaders of Cooke County’s many 4-H chapters and had them give mini-presentations on events held and services rendered to the community.

“We’re very fortunate to have four Extension agents, where some counties are out of the Extension business,” Freeman said.

In other business, the Commissioners voted 4-0 to:

• Amend a list of election judges for the March 2008 Primary Election.

• End contract with Timber Creek Productions LLC to use the former County Jail for a movie, which is still in pre-production.

• Award sealed bids for corrugated galvanized pipe for all Precincts for a period of 12 months.

• Permit the city of Callisburg, at their expense, to bore under Survey Road about 80 feet south of County Road 157, using a two-inch sleeve housing a three-quarter inch water line, located in Precinct 1.

• Approve a copier contract for the Cooke County Extension office from Dustin’s Office Machines.

• Accept an insurance settlement for Sheriff’s Office vehicle accident which occurred on Jan. 31.

The Commissioners tabled a decision to award sealed bids for surplus items from the County Maintenance Department, including old desks, file cabinets, etc. The County may opt to sell the items as scrap metal.

Ray Fletcher, Cooke County fire marshal, discouraged the Commissioners from ending a burn ban or rescinding the disaster declaration. The Commissioners took no action on either, meaning the county-wide burn ban and the disaster declaration stand.

The meeting adjourned at 11:53 a.m.

By Andy Hogue
Register Staff Writer

Gainesville Daily Register

26 February 2008

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2008/02/26/commissioner-vote-helps-wind-energy/