A look ahead at 2020: Local news to watch as a new decade begins

One-year-old Tiernan Wiedmann, of Gainesville, rings in the New Year at the Cooke County Library in downtown Gainesville on Tuesday, Dec. 31. The New Year celebration for children included lots of confetti and coloring time.

On Tuesday, the Register highlighted the top news stories from Cooke County in 2019. But 2020 is bringing a few newsmaking topics of its own. Here’s a look at a few of the issues to watch this year.

School bond may be on the horizon

Gainesville Independent School District leaders have floated the idea of putting a bond up for voters’ approval in May to renovate or build new school facilities. In December, the district’s Facilities Steering Committee discussed potential bond amounts ranging from $29.5 million to $92.5 million, which could raise property taxes anywhere from 12 to 42 cents per $100 of assessed value. After that meeting, the district solicited public input via an online survey on district facility priorities. The committee plans to go over the survey results at its next meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at W.E. Chalmers Elementary School, 600 Radio Hill Road. If GISD’s board of trustees does call for a bond election, that would take place May 2 along with any other local elections.

Wind farm developers pushing forward

Potential construction of the planned 180-megawatt Wildcat Creek Wind Farm LLC has drawn passionate input both from supporters of the project and from those who oppose it. That’s expected to continue in 2020 as the developer, EDP Renewables, pursues tax abatements from local government entities and continues discussions with landowners and neighbors regarding the project. EDP proposes to build more than 50 wind turbines on several thousand acres in southern Cooke County.

Spring elections to bring contested local races

So far, voters will be called upon to decide at least four contested county races in the Republican primary election on March 3. Incumbents face challengers for the 235th District judge’s seat, the sheriff’s position and two county commissioner seats as well as one constable seat. Local election officials are preparing for what could be higher turnout as national races, including for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, are also decided.

Nonpartisan local positions could be up for election on May 2, the municipal election day. Three Gainesville Independent School District board members see their terms expire this year, as do three members of Gainesville City Council, among other positions that could come up for voter choice. Both of those entities, though, did not have any contested positions in May 2019 and canceled their municipal elections as a result.

Officials to consider future of GF-R Station No. 3

As Gainesville Fire-Rescue moves apparatus to its new Fire Station No. 3 on Culberson Street, the existing Station No. 3 at 115 E. Pecan St. could cease to be the oldest city building still in use. The new station is expected to be up and running starting in February. City officials haven’t said what they might do with the 100-year-old building after it’s vacated by the fire department and the city council hasn’t made any final decisions about it, either.

What’s national is local

Cooke County election officials are preparing for what they say could be record turnout during the Nov. 3 general election — when voters will be called upon to decide who should occupy the presidency for the next four years, as well as other races including for Texas’s 13th District congressional seat, which U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, is retiring from this year. The House district spans the Texas Panhandle and rural parts of North Texas as far east as the Cooke-Grayson county line.

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