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Wednesday, May 28, 1997

Area news digest

Four treated for injuries suffered in two accidents

EASTLAND - Four people injured in two accidents Friday in Eastland County were all treated for injuries and released from area hospitals.

Christine Nance of Cisco was treated at Hendrick Medical Center. She was a passenger in a car driven by Lois Donham Carr, 73, of Cisco. Carr was treated and released at Eastland Memorial Hospital.

Also treated and released from the Eastland hospital were two Cisco Junior College students involved in a separate one-car accident. Driver was Kathryn Preddy, 19. Amy D. Beard, 20, of Eastland was a passenger.

Brownwood City Counci approves funds for crime task force

BROWNWOOD - The Brownwood City Council wants to send an anti-crime message to criminals by providing funds to support law enforcement.

Council members approved budget amendments at their Tuesday meeting to provide $7,500 to the West Central Texas Interlocal Crime Task Force and $1,330 for a bicycle patrol officer in Brownwood.

City finance director Ricky Jorgenson reported to the council that up to $45,000 could be allocated to fund other police

programs without adversely affecting the city's budget. Jorgenson said that money comes from expenditure savings.

The money would help Brownwood Police Chief Virgil Cowin implement his Crimestop 2000 plan. The council gave preliminary approval to part of that plan at its meeting, calling for a reserve police officer program. Final approval for the program is scheduled for the next council meeting.

In other business, the council voted to change its regular meeting time from 9 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Brownwood man charged with attempted murder

BROWNWOOD - A Brownwood man was booked into the Brown County Jail on Tuesday for attempted murder in connection with a weekend shooting that sent one man to the hospital.

Bond for Benny Fay Leach, 35, was set at $50,000.

Lane Thompson, 36, of Round Rock remains in good condition at Columbia's Brownwood Regional Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the leg.

Police were called to Cleburne Street just after 9 p.m. Sunday and found a man lying by the side of the road. The victim, Thompson, had a nickel-sized gunshot wound in his right thigh.

Thompson's wife told authorities that Leach shot her husband and then sped away.

According to police reports, the incident started as a domestic dispute. Thompson and his wife were arguing in their car when she got out of the vehicle. She said her husband then drove up to Leach's car across the street and she heard a gunshot.

Leach was later arrested at his home. Police gained permission to search the residence and found a rifle.

On Monday, police received a call about 6 p.m. from a man who said there was a shotgun under his trailer house. He identified the weapon as belonging to Leach. Police confiscated the gun and found one fired shell inside.

Eastland County to contribute to task force coffers

EASTLAND - Eastland County will pay its share to help fund the West Central Texas Interlocal Crime Task force for its 1997-98 fiscal year that starts Sunday.

The county's portion is about $8,000 and will be paid in monthly installments. Commissioners hesitated until they were assured that reports of the agency's activities would be made, local press releases would be distributed and the county would receive a part of the seizure money.

Eastland County Sheriff Wayne Bradford said his department is primarily interested in agents for undercover work.

In other business, treasurer Ruth Hart agreed to sign checks to a vendor after the county auditor said they should be signed.

Hart had refused to sign the checks because the business, which supplies fuel to county vehicles, owes more than $13,000 in back taxes.

"You can take action today by not putting more money in his back pocket," she said.

Hart read from a local government code book which states that county funds shouldn't be paid until outstanding debts are settled.

County Auditor Don Hazelip said taxes are not considered indebtedness. He said that until there is a judgment against the firm, the checks should be paid. He suggested getting an opinion from District Attorney Mike Siebert.

Also, a bid was awarded to Mid-Continental Restoration Co. of Haltom City to restore the exterior of the courthouse.

As soon as the district attorney approves the contract, work will begin.

Vote on task force funding delayed

ANSON - A vote on funding for the West Central Texas Interlocal Crime Task Force won't come until the Jones County Commissioners meet June 9.

The topic was discussed at Tuesday's meeting, but no vote could be taken because it wasn't on the agenda.

County Judge Brad Rowland said the funding request wasn't on the agendabecause the letter concerning it was received after the meeting notice was posted.

Commissioners were not against the funding request in their discussions Tuesday. A letter from task force board chairman Jack Dieken explained that the federal government will fund 75 percent of the expense but local entities in 15 counties must promise to match the other 25 percent.

Based on population, Jones County would be expected to pay 5.59 percent, which is estimated at $7,071.

The amount would be accurate if all counties remain as members, but if a county drops out, its share must be absorbed by the remaining counties.

In the past, counties have pledged but haven't had to pay because seizures of money and other items in drug raids have been enough to make up the 25 percent. Those proceeds have lessened recently.

In other action Tuesday:

-- Commissioners approved a contract offered by Carol Bradley, a representative from Southwestern Bell.

She offered to renew the county's contract for five years with 25 to 28 percent commission and a $2,500 sign-up bonus.

-- Commissioners voted 3-1 to make the newly renovated courthouse a smoke-free facility.

-- Commissioners approved the purchase of a $9,000 shredder for Precinct 1.

Merkel administrator offered job as city manager

MERKEL - City Administrator Robert Harris has been conditionally offered the job as city manager.

After a one-hour executive session Monday, the Merkel City Council said Harris must agree to accomplish a list of goals that will be determined during a workshop next week.

Alderman Steve Campell voted against offering the job to Harris, Merkel's city administrator since 1994 and a city employee for 37 years.

"His track record over the past three years leads me to believe that he doesn't have either the desire or capability to handle the administrative end" of city government, Campbell said.

The new position evolved after voters adopted the city manager form of government May 3.

In other business:

-- The council approved spending $26,500 for the hiring of a community/economic development specialist. The specialist would work for the city, economic development board and chamber of commerce.

-- The city attorney will be asked to draft an ordinance for a hotel/motel tax and to write a resolution changing the city's voting method from at-large to a place system.

Mitchell County to support crime task force

COLORADO CITY - Mitchell County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to support the West Central Texas Interlocal Crime Task Force.

The task force is asking each governmental body in its region to pay on a pro rata basis according to population to make up for the decrease in seizures from drug raids.

Mitchell County's share is $3,390, said County Judge Ray Mayo. Sheriff Patrick Toombs will consult with Colorado City to see if it will help pay the cost, Mayo said.

The county doesn't have the money budgeted for this fiscal year, but the sheriff said he would include it in the next budget, Mayo said.

In other business:

-- An outside audit prepared by Carol McDonald was accepted. "Everything was in order," Mayo said.

-- The county agreed to pay $1,000 of a $2,000 electrical repair bill resulting from a fire at the girls softball field.

-- The Christmas In April program donated a vacant lot to the county. The lot, which will not be put to use in the near future, is across from the county jail.

-- The council decided to take a proposed zoning ordinance away from the planning and zoning board after hearing that three of the five board members have resigned.

Stephens County attorney to prepare inmate work request

BRECKENRIDGE - Stephens County Attorney Gary Trammel will prepare an application for organizations requesting work done by jail inmates, commissioners decided Tuesday.

Stephens County Sheriff Jim Reeves gave a report to commissioners on the use of inmates for manual labor. The workforce originally was to do work for the county such as cutting brush to eliminate the need for additional county employees.

But commissioners complained that so many organizations had been using the workforce to help with their activities that there is little time to help the county.

Trammel will prepare an application form and a master calendar to schedule the work.

In other business:

n First National Bank, Albany/Breckenridge, was awarded depository for county funds for four years. FNB was the only bank that submitted a bid.

n Commissioners accepted the resignation of Linda Caufman from the Stephens Memorial Hospital board of governors with appreciation for her service. They tabled appointment of a new member.

n The Child Welfare Board was enlarged from seven to nine members with Fran Sikes and Barbara Thornton appointed.

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