From staff reports
Early voting for the Nov. 5 election is underway and the fate of two local school bonds and nine constitutional amendments is in the hands of voters.
In both Mineral Wells and Graford ISDs, voters are asked to decide on bonds to improve facilities.
Mineral Wells ISD
Mineral Wells ISD trustees are asking voters to approve a $25 million bond, primarily to:
• Replace Lamar Elementary, which was built in 1955 and is outdated.
• Improve campus security with building modifications, where needed.
• To replace the high school track and its foundation, that has succumbed to shifting ground. The track is also used by the community for walking/running and for events, like Relay for Life.
If voters approve the proposed bond, the new elementary campus will be located on the same property as Lamar and will be designed to serve approximately 850 students. Lamar currently has 747 students and 11 portable buildings – these are supposed to be temporary but have been around for numerous years.
Combined with the expertise of VLK Architects, the district used a volunteer facilities study committee, made up of local business leaders, parents and former teachers, to help shape the bond package.
During the past month, the district offered voters a number of events and facility tours in preparation for the bond election, which saw modest attendance. Additionally, district representatives and board members have presented bond facts before community groups and organizations. MWISD representatives are willing and able to speak to organizations on the bond, simply call the district’s administration office at (940) 325-6404. For more bond information, visit www.mwisd.net.
With aging facilities also an issue in Graford, the board of trustees is asking voters to approve a $7.5 million bond to cover school facilities and school buses. This includes the expansion/renovation of buildings and the cost of building an athletic complex, featuring new baseball and softball fields, a track and new locker rooms.
GISD Superintendent Dennis Holt told the Index that the district is hoping to add a new science lab at the high school and converting the existing science lab for the elementary school.
Provided the bond passes, the district would add a new, safer and secure entrance to the high school building, a new bus barn and a new kitchen for the cafeteria, then use the current kitchen for a culinary arts classroom.
The bond money would also be used to build an athletic complex. Graford does not have a track, and currently it leases fields for high school softball and baseball games from the local youth association.
“The dimensions of both fields are not good for high school programs,” Holt said. “And since we don’t have a track ... that would be something good for our kids.”
Holt said the bond funds would also be used to build two locker rooms (in back of the gym where the old agriculture/science rooms were), the expansion of the current weight room and extra storage.
Additionally, it would address roofs and air conditioning.
If the GISD bond passes, property taxes would rise somewhere between 5.5 cents to 6.5 cents per $100 taxable property value. Holt said, for instance, a homeowner owning a house appraised at $100,000 would pay roughly $48 to $54 annually in property taxes.
How, where to vote
Early voting is through Nov. 1 and takes place at the following locations:
• At the Palo Pinto County Courthouse, located at 520 Oak St., in Palo Pinto: Oct. 22-25 and Oct. 28-Nov. 1, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
• At the Palo Pinto County Annex Building, located at 109 N. Oak Ave., in Mineral Wells: Oct. 22-25 and Oct. 28-Nov. 1, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; extended hours are on Sunday, Oct. 27 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Lamar Elementary School: Oct. 25, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Oct. 26, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Graford ISD Library: Oct. 25, 5-8 p.m.
Those unable to vote in person during early voting or on election day can apply for a ballot by mail by contacting the county elections office. The last day to apply for a ballot by mail is Oct. 23. The completed application must be received (not postmarked) by Oct. 25. Photo ID is not required to vote by mail.
Election Day is Nov. 5, with 17 polls throughout the county open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A voter will be required to show one of the following forms of photo identification at the polling location before the voter can cast a vote:
• Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
• Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS.
• Texas personal identification card issued by DPS.
• Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS.
• United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph.
• United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph.
• United States passport.
The photo ID must be current or expired no more than 60 days. Other photo IDs, including student IDs and employment IDs, cannot be accepted at the polls.
Statewide Constitutional amendments
The nonpartisan League of Women Voters issued information on the nine amendments facing Texans.
To help Texas voters cast an informed ballot, the LWV-Texas Education Fund provides helpful, nonpartisan information on both the proposed constitutional amendments and the election process.
“To have a say on whether nine proposed amendments become part of the Texas Constitution, you need to vote,” says Linda Krefting, Chair of the League of Women Voters of Texas Education Fund. “The issues at stake on the Nov. 5 ballot are important to all Texans – property tax exemptions for military families, reverse mortgages for seniors, filling short-term city council vacancies, sanctions for judicial misconduct and funding for water.”
The propositions being voted on this fall are as follows:
• Proposition 1 – The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action.
• Proposition 2 – The constitutional amendment eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational.
• Proposition 3 – The constitutional amendment to authorize a political subdivision of this state to extend the number of days that aircraft parts that are exempt from ad valorem taxation due to their location in this state for a temporary period may be located in this state for purposes of qualifying for the tax exemption.
• Proposition 4 – The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization.
• Proposition 5 – The constitutional amendment to authorize the making of a reverse mortgage loan for the purchase of homestead property and to amend lender disclosures and other requirements in connection with a reverse mortgage loan.
• Proposition 6 – The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources.
• Proposition 7 – The constitutional amendment authorizing a home-rule municipality to provide in its charter the procedure to fill a vacancy on its governing body for which the unexpired term is 12 months or less.
• Proposition 8 – The constitutional amendment repealing Section 7, Article IX, Texas Constitution, which relates to the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County.
• Proposition 9 – The constitutional amendment relating to expanding the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Contact.
The state League of Women Voters offers two websites – www.lwvtexas.org and www.VOTE411.org – with information on the Texas Constitutional Amendment Election. These guides include ballot language, an explanation and balanced arguments for and against each proposition, plus helpful information on the new photo ID requirement and other aspects of voting are available in English and Spanish.
Print copies will be available through many libraries and distribution by local Leagues. A Constitutional Amendment page on www.lwvtexas.org provides additional information on the constitutional amendment process and proposals considered by the 2013 Texas Legislature.
For more information, visit www.VoteTexas.gov, or contact Palo Pinto County election officials at 940-659-1212.
The League of Women Voters of Texas Education Fund contributed to this article.