By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
A proposed revision of county patrol parameters may add a stronger presence of law enforcement in Pioneer Valley.
During Monday’s regular county commissioners’ court meeting, officials discussed the possibility of designating sheriff’s office deputies to patrol Pioneer Valley, currently a private community. Ray Hall of the Pioneer Valley Association spoke to commissioners during the meeting and explained that in March, Sheriff Terry Gilbert made association members aware of state law allowing a request that county officials deprivatize certain roads and deem them public for traffic regulation enforcement.
“When deputies are in the valley and they see something that might give them justifiable cause to stop someone and possibly inspect the car for contraband, they don’t have to wait until they’re outside the valley,” Hall said. “They can do it right there.”
The request, Hall said, stems from complaints about unruly behavior among some drivers in Pioneer Valley — evidently heightened because its roads are considered free from local jurisdiction, and criminals are aware of this.
“They almost act with impunity because there’s no authority,” he said. “But this gives officers real flexibility in performing their duty.”
Gilbert told commissioners the shift to public regulation might reduce the recent cases of disturbing the peace in Pioneer Valley and make potential suspects aware that they can be arrested by Cooke County deputies for behavior that had been nearly impossible to prosecute.
“It can’t hurt,” he said. “Calls for service are calls for service, wherever they’re at, and we’ll go there.”
Commissioners took no action on Hall’s request, with legal and financial details of the new regulation still pending.
Other meeting highlights:
• Commissioners approved a proclamation declaring May 18, 2013, as “M-o-o-ving Thru’ the Mud with Landon Day” in recognition of young brain tumor survivor Landon Tipps of Valley View. Landon and parents David and Wendi Tipps attended Monday’s meeting to receive the proclamation, along with members of a committee that has worked to promote a related fundraising campaign.
• Cooke County Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Fletcher provided an update on his ongoing safe room grant program, which has provided federally funded reimbursement for county residents who join the program and install storm shelters on their property. Of the 150 residents who originally requested to be involved with the program, he said, 87 of them have completed their shelters. He added that an unexpected savings of $75,000 in grant money will allow 25 more residents to install shelters; in early June, 84 new participants will be authorized to proceed with their installations. In total, there are currently 284 residents on the list.
• Commissioners approved a proclamation declaring May “Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month.”
• Commissioners approved a request to use county records management funds to purchase state-required equipment and software for records preservation.
• Commissioners approved these consent agenda items: fiscal year 2013 budget amendments; monthly bills; payroll and related expenses; the indigent cremation of Rodney Earl Leeper; an agreement between Sherman Moore and Cooke County Precinct 1 to clean and reshape a ditch between the 200 and 400 blocks of County Road 183; a contract with the Valley View Volunteer Fire Department and Cooke County; a memorandum of understanding for cooperative frequency reuse between the City of Denton and Cooke County Emergency Management and authorizing Fletcher to sign said agreement; the appointment of Francis West to the Cooke County Child Welfare Board; the contract between Cooke County EMS and Fleitman Backhoe Company for the inspection of the septic system located at EMS #4, 125 County Road 425 in Muenster for a one-year term beginning June 1, 2013 through May 31, 2014; the contract between Cooke County EMS and Lake Kiowa Landscaping for the inspections of the aerobic septic system for EMS Station 3, located in Woodbine, for a one-year term beginning June 1, 2013 through May 31, 2014; the update of a business associate agreement for compliance with the final HIPAA Omnibus Rule with Intermedix Corporation; a contract with EOG Resources, Inc. for the installation of a temporary water transfer line on County Road 343; a donation in the amount of $10 to the Cooke County Library for research, from B. Callaway; the filing of internal quarterly audits of the Justice of the Peace, Pct. 1; sheriff; the tax assessor-collector; and the library; allowing the county auditor’s office to apply for a Citibank credit card for county use through the State of Texas; and acceptance of the UNT- PEARL Project grant for the Cooke County Library in the amount of $1,000.