Early voting begins in local elections Monday
Local voters will have a chance to make decisions in city, school and other entities’ elections when early voting starts Monday, April 22, ahead of the Saturday, May 4, election date.
Residents in the City of Whitney and those living within the boundaries of the Whitney Independent School District will have choices to make for city and school board positions. The city and school are holding a joint election to simplify voting.
Whitney will have a new mayor after the election, as current Mayor Kristen Miller is not seeking re-election. Voters will choose between candidates Jerry Barker, Mary Rae and Trey Jetton for the mayor’s seat.
There will be no need for a City Council race in the city, as incumbent Robin Sliva was the only candidate to file for her seat, and Brian Burkhart was the only one who filed to assume the seat currently held by Mary Rae.
Whitney ISD will have two three-year school board terms on the ballot. The seats are currently held by Bobby Cryns and Brad Brunett, who will both seek re-election. They will be challenged by Dale Farmer and write-in candidate Gary Northcutt.
Early voting in both the City of Whitney and Whitney ISD elections will be held at the Whitney ISD Administration Building Board Room, located at 305 South San Jacinto Street, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays from Monday, April 22, through Friday, April 26. Extended early voting hours will be offered Monday, April 29, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Tuesday, April 30, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Election day voting in Whitney’s city and school elections will be held in the same location from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Applications for ballot by mail should be mailed to early voting clerk Debbie Clay at P.O. Box 2050, Whitney, TX 76692, and must be received no later than Saturday, May 4.
District 1 Election
Hill County Emergency Services District (ESD) 1 has called an election seeking authority to levy a tax rate of up to 10 cents per $100 valuation, although Board President Clarence Pressley said that it only intends to go up to six cents per $100 valuation.
With the current ESD 1 tax rate at three cents per $100 valuation, a six-cent rate would result in the district’s taxes on a $100,000 home, for example, to rise from $30 to $60 annually.
ESD 1 provides fire protection and first responder services to Hill County residents residing outside of Hillsboro and Whitney, which are not members of the ESD with their own city-operated services.
Voters who are eligible to cast a ballot in the ESD 1 election may vote early in the basement of the Hill County Courthouse in Hillsboro from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays beginning Monday, April 22, through Tuesday, April 30.
Applications for ballots by mail should be mailed to Aaron Torres, Hill County Elections Administrator, P.O. Box 725, Hillsboro, TX 76645. They must be received no later than the close of business Tuesday, April 23.
Election day voting in the ESD 1 election will be held from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at various locations throughout the county. Locally, voting sites will be set up at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 117 HCR 2129 E in Whitney, for precincts 12, 13 and 14; 2604 Volunteer Fire Department, 319 FM 2604 in Whitney, for precincts 20, 21 and 22; and the Covington Community Center, 402 Gathings in Covington, for precincts 19 and 27.
Blum ISD Bond, Blum City Elections
Voters in the Blum Independent School District will be asked to consider a $6 million bond proposal that will allow the district to utilize a 45-acre land donation for a sports complex and school buildings.
The City of Blum has three two-year positions expiring this year. They include mayor Chryle Hackler and council members Tamra Nawara, Lisa Bandy and Jack Williams.
There will be two candidates for the mayor position, including the incumbent and Heather Garrison.
Council members Nawara and Williams filed to keep their seats, and also filing were Jason Tidwell, Christopher Findley, Brandon Munn and Roy Hackler.
Early voting is scheduled weekdays from Monday, April 22, through Tuesday, April 30, from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at Blum High School.
The high school is located at 310 South Avenue F in Blum.
Election day voting on Saturday, May 4, will be from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at Blum Community Center, located at 105 Avenue C in Blum.
Aquilla ISD Board Election
There are three full three-year terms available on the Aquilla ISD Board of Trustees. Candidates seeking one of the three spots include: Candice Barsh, Dirl Dean Grainger, Mark Hammonds, Courtney Lewis (incumbent), Jade McCurdy, Diane Montgomery, Amber Perez, Karen Sexton, Frank Urbanovsky (incumbent) and Kristal Wade.
The school also has two positions open for a one-year unexpired term. Uncontested candidates are Tim Henderson (incumbent) and write-in candidate Jamie Simmons.
Early voting will be held each weekday at the school library between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. from Monday, April 22, through Tuesday, April 30, and election day voting will be from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Applications for ballot by mail should be mailed to Lori Ridings, 404 North Richards, Aquilla, TX 76622. Applications must be received no later than the close of business Monday, April 22.
Bosque County Hospital District
An election will be held by the Bosque County Hospital District to elect a board of directors.
Precinct 1 candidate is William Trotter; Precinct 2 candidate is George Clifton; Precinct 3 candidate is Charles Hopkins; Precinct 4 candidate is Viki Villarreal; and at-large candidates are David B. Burden, Roger W. Parks and John C. Erickson.
The City of Clifton, City of Valley Mills, Meridian ISD and Walnut Springs ISD will have joint elections with the district.
Early voting will be at the Bosque County Courthouse from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday, April 22, and weekdays from Tuesday, April 23, to Monday, April 29, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Hours on Tuesday, April 30, will be from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
On election day, voters will cast ballots at in their individual precincts from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Polling places include Clifton Civic Center, Meridian Civic Center and Old City Hall in Valley Mills.
For Covington ISD, two full three-year terms are on the ballot. Incumbents Jean McGinnis Martin and Andy Lopez filed to keep their seats, and they will be challenged by Kevin Karlicek and Freedom Jay.
Early voting will be at Covington City Hall, 402 Gathings in Covington, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday during the early voting period. Extended hours will be offered Wednesday, April 24, and Tuesday, April 30, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Election day voting will also be from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Applications for ballot by mail may be sent to Early Voting Clerk, City of Covington, P.O. Box 443, Covington, TX 76636. Applications must be received by Monday, May 6.
Voters who possess one of the state’s seven approved forms of photo ID are reminded that they must present that ID at the polls. Voters who do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo ID may execute a Reasonable Impediment Declaration form (PDF), available to them at each polling location, and provide a supporting form of identification. Additionally, certain voters may qualify for certain exemptions to presenting an acceptable form of photo identification or following the Reasonable Impediment Declaration (PDF) procedure.
The seven forms of approved photo ID are:
Texas Driver License issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS);
Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS;
Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS;
Texas Handgun License issued by DPS;
United States Military Identification Card containing the person’s photograph;
United States Citizenship Certificate containing the person’s photograph; and
United States Passport (book or card)
With the exception of the U.S. Citizenship Certificate, which does not expire, the acceptable photo ID must be current or, for voters aged 18-69, have expired no more than four years before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place. A voter 70 years of age or older may use a form of acceptable photo ID listed above that has expired for any length of time if the identification is otherwise valid.
If a voter does not possess one of the forms of acceptable photo identification listed above, and the voter cannot reasonably obtain such identification, the voter may fill out a Reasonable Impediment Declaration form (PDF), which will be available at each polling location, and present a copy or original of one of the following supporting forms of identification:
a government document that shows the voter’s name and an address, including the voter’s voter registration certificate;
a current utility bill;
a bank statement;
a government check;
a certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate; or
a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes the voter’s identity (which may include a foreign birth document)
The address on an acceptable form of photo identification or a supporting form of identification, if applicable, does not have to match the voter’s address on the list of registered voters.
If a voter meets these requirements and is otherwise eligible to vote, the voter will be able to cast a regular ballot in the election.
Voters with a disability may apply with the county voter registrar for a permanent exemption to presenting an acceptable form of photo identification or following the Reasonable Impediment Declaration procedure at the polls. Voters with a religious objection to being photographed or voters who do not present an acceptable form of photo identification or follow the Reasonable Impediment Declaration procedure at the polls because of certain natural disasters may apply for a temporary exemption to presenting an acceptable form of photo identification or following the Reasonable Impediment Declaration procedure. For more details, voters may contact their county voter registrar.
Court considers contract for tablet computers in county jail
The Hill County Commissioners’ Court met in a regular session Tuesday, April 9, and discussed a proposal to provide county jail inmates access to tablet computers at no cost to the county.
Hill County Sheriff Rodney Watson presented information to the court about the proposal from Global Tel Link Corporation (GTL), which he said would provide a means for inmates to communicate with the outside world via a secure, recorded telephone system.
Inmates would also have the ability to access legal and educational materials, place commissary orders, review account balances and consult with attorneys.
They would also be able to pay for additional services, such as exchanging messages and photos in text form, video visitation services and streaming services, such as music, movies, games and podcasts.
In the future, there would be a possibility of offering mental health and telemedicine services through the devices, according to information presented in court. They could also be used by magistrates for video arraignments with additional setup by the county, the proposal stated.
The tablets would be in a wall-mounted docking station for video visitation security purposes, according to the proposal, and a GTL representative said that one tablet would be available for every two inmates.
Fees collected from inmates for the services would bring additional revenue to the county, the sheriff said. GTL would recoup its costs via an extension to the inmate telephone contract with the addition of tablets and payment services, according to the company.
The proposal submitted by Watson said that the sheriff’s office is required to allow inmates access to a law library for an hour at a time, and when an inmate requests to use it, a jailer has to escort them to and from the law library. Inmates’ 30-minute visitation period twice a week also requires an escort, and the sheriff said that floor officers can spend a considerable amount of time on these duties.
He added that the jail does not currently offer educational opportunities to inmates. “Aside from an hour a day of recreational time, church services and some TV, there is quite a lot of idle time for them, which can lead to some of them acting out and creating problems in the jail,” the sheriff said.
He said that the tablets will keep inmates more occupied and reduce the workload of detention staff.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Andrew Montgomery said that having worked in the jail, he was in support of the plan.
County Judge Justin Lewis said that he could see benefits to the program in the jail and cost savings for the county. Watson said that the free features would eliminate the need for the sheriff’s office to provide a separate law library and eliminate the cost of the LexusNexus law library subscription.
“I can see how this would keep people busy,” Lewis said. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”
He added, “I don’t have a problem with these people having access to something to keep them out of jailers’ hair, especially if it’s educational.”
The judge said that the prospects of defense attorneys accessing clients more readily and possible telemedicine capabilities are also benefits. “All of those things seem to benefit the county at no cost to us when, otherwise, we’re going to pay a considerable amount of money.”
Commissioners tabled the issue pending legal review of the five-year contract by the county attorney and are expected to vote on the issue at the court’s next meeting.
The court approved an agreement with the Health and Human Services Commission for application assistance services through YourTexasBenefits.com for assistance to needy families.
Under the program, the commission will train Beverly McCarley of the county’s indigent care department to connect needy families with services.
McCarley told the court that currently, she does not have resources to assist a person who contacts indigent care and does not qualify due to the strict requirements of the program.
The partnership will not cost the county anything, and the commission will train McCarley to connect Hill County residents with state resources.
Commissioners voted to seek bids to repave the parking lot at the county’s Covington Street annex. The parking lot is in poor condition, and the project will also require electrical work.
The county has already budgeted the project for this fiscal year.
Equipment in Precinct 4 was declared surplus material and will be sold to purchase more reliable equipment.
Items include tool boxes, an engine lift, a transmission jack, an engine stand, a Carolina press, a free-standing drill press, a new truck fifth-wheel, fuel tanks and a hydraulic dovetail.
Additional equipment was considered salvage material in Precinct 4, including road grader edges, a swamp cooler, a chainsaw, a pole saw, a shop fan, a parts washer, weedeater, steam washer, old sign pieces, batteries, cable, culvert pieces, pipes, an air compressor, tin, guardrails, I-beams, scrap metal, and a grading bucket.
Items deemed salvage materials no longer have value for their intended purpose, Lewis explained, and surplus materials are determined to still have value, although the county has no need for them.
Two vehicles were declared surplus equipment for the Hill County Sheriff’s Office. With the addition of new vehicles to the department’s fleet over the past several years, the vehicles were deemed to be at the end of their service life and not needed. The court approved declaring a 2008 Ford Expedition and a 2009 Ford Expedition surplus.
Due to the switch from Verizon to AT&T for cell phone service at the sheriff’s office, the office also requested to declare 44 working Verizon phones as surplus equipment.
Kaddatz Auctioneering was approved to sell the items.
The annual renewal of the county’s agreement with the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) for Affordable Care Act Reporting and Tracking Services was approved. Under the agreement TAC provides required Affordable Care Act reporting for the county and saves many labor hours for the treasurer’s office.
The court reset the deadline for bid dates for mowing, brush clearing and fence work at soil conservation dam sites in the county. Lewis said that the county is reviewing the bid package submitted by the state and modifying it to meet local needs. The projects are being undertaken with leftover state funding designated for the county’s dam sites.
Bids will now be due Friday, May 3, in the county judge’s office.
The court convened into executive session to discuss economic development negotiations. Commissioners voted to authorize Lewis and the county’s economic development attorney, Mike Dixon, to negotiate an economic development contract with Belltown Power Texas for additional solar panel farms in the county.
Commissioners will hold a special meeting Tuesday, April 16, at 8:30 a.m. in the county courtroom of the Hill County Courthouse. The court is expected to approve regular invoices and discuss bid solicitation for flood control structures.
Golf tourney to benefit Itasca Rotary
The 11th annual golf tournament benefiting Itasca Rotary’s efforts to fund community activities will be held at Lake Whitney Golf Club Saturday, May 4.
Prizes will be awarded for first and fifth place teams, longest drive and closest to the hole.
The hole-in-one prize is a 2019 Ford Escape S sponsored by Lloyd Ford.
Registration will begin at 7 a.m. with an 8 a.m. shotgun start. Lunch will be included with entry fee.
Entry fee is $200 per team or $50 per player. The fee includes green fee, 1/2 cart and fun competition. Mulligans are available for $10 each on the morning of play (limit two per player).
For questions or registration information, contact Joe Marek at 254-687-2331 ext. 2289 Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. or email@example.com, or call Steve Peacock at 254-709-6489.
WISD plans spring safety drills April 25
Whitney Independent School District has announced that spring safety drills will be held at the school Thursday, April 25.
The school, Whitney Police Department and Whitney Fire Department will jointly facilitate the drills.
Weather permitting, there will be two separate drills held in the morning. One will be located at the high school, and the second will be located at the middle school. The planned drills will start at approximately 8:30 a.m. and conclude by noon.
The drill will involve Whitney first responders, faculty members and students from both the high school and middle school.
If parents or guardians have any questions pertaining to the drill, contact Superintendent Gene Solis at 254-694-2254.
Antique Alley festival this weekend
Antique Alley will be held Friday, April 19, through Sunday, April 21, spanning two counties with shopping opportunities for bargain hunters.
The event includes Cleburne, Grandview, Maypearl, Alvarado, Venus, Keene and Waxahachie. It started in downtown Grandview in 1999 as a sidewalk sale and has grown into the festival it is today.
Antique Alley welcomes all clubs, vendors and junkers with a resale tax ID.
The event will include music, flea markets, yard sales, sidewalk sales and more.
For more information, visit AntiqueAlleyTexas.com.
Brookshire’s now offering home delivery
Brookshire Grocery Co. has introduced same-day home delivery through Instacart at the Brookshire’s store located at 1310 North Brazos in Whitney.
Customers can use the Instacart service to order and pay for an assortment of meat, produce, grocery, bakery, deli, household, health/beauty, baby and pet items from Brookshire’s.
An Instacart personal shopper will visit the selected store to fill the order and then deliver the groceries to the customer’s home during their scheduled delivery timeframe.
To place an order, customers can visit brookshires.com/home-delivery#/ or download the “Instacart” mobile app, available in the App Store or Google Play.
Instacart requires a $10 minimum on all orders, along with a delivery fee as low as $3.99 for purchases of $35 or more or $9.99 for orders under $35. A monthly or annual “Express Membership” can be purchased and includes free delivery for all orders over $35.
Customers can check to see if their address is within the delivery area at instacart.com/locations.
“We are excited to now offer home delivery through Instacart in Whitney,” said Brad Brookshire, Chairman and CEO for Brookshire Grocery Co. “Our company’s mission is to deliver exceptional experiences and value to our customers through our core values, which includes extraordinary customer service. We are thrilled to expand our service by providing this convenient shopping option.”
Customers should note that alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, gift cards and other select items are not available for delivery. For more information, visit brook shires.com/home-delivery#/. For assistance or to report an issue with ordering through Instacart, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-246-7822.
Public invited to White Bluff Chapel Holy Week services
White Bluff Chapel’s Music Director, Tom Reedy, has announced the chapel’s Holy Week services leading up to Easter Sunday. All services are open to the public and are held at White Bluff Resort.
The Maundy Thursday Service features communion in commemoration of the Last Supper of Christ.
The Friday Evening Tenebrae Service is a moving, solemn ceremony featuring a candlelight finale.
The early morning Easter Sunday Sunrise Service is held outdoors, at the end of White Bluff Drive, overlooking Lake Whitney.
The traditional Easter Sunday Service features a life-sized cross covered in live flowers, brought and affixed by attendees at the service.
All events except the sunrise service are held in the chapel, located at 1070 White Bluff Drive.
White Bluff Chapel Holy Week services include: Thursday, April 18 – Maundy Thursday Service at 7 p.m.; Friday, April 19 – Tenebrae Service at 7 p.m.; Sunday, April 21 – Easter Sunrise Service at 7 a.m.; Sunday, April 21 – Easter service at 9:15 a.m.
Riverside East to close for construction
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that it will temporarily close Riverside East Park and Riverside Park Road due to road construction.
The temporary closure will take place during the April 15-May 1 time frame for approximately two weeks, the Corps said.
Drivers in the area are advised to use caution and watch for detour and closure signs during this time period.
For more information on the closure, call the Whitney Lake Project Office at 254-622-3332.
Providence plans Walk of Remembrance
Providence Hospice of Whitney has scheduled its second annual Walk of Remembrance for Saturday, April 27, and is inviting the community to participate.
The Walk of Remembrance will take place at Lake Whitney State Park at 10 a.m.
All are invited to attend for activities to honor loved ones who have passed.
Contact Laura Webb, social worker, 254-659-0186 with questions or for more information.