By CLINT FOSTER
PALO PINTO – For the second time in three months, the Palo Pinto County Commissioners Court appointed a new constable to fill a void left by a retiring veteran. Commissioners recognized Precinct 3 Constable Noah Bragg – who will retire after 29 years of service at that position – and appointed Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Santifer to take his place.
Bragg – who will remain in office through Jan. 31 – joins former Precinct 4 Constable of 24 years James Roberts as the two Palo Pinto County constables to announce their retirement in the last few months.
After almost three decades of law enforcement on the west side of Possum Kingdom Lake, Bragg seemed humble as he joked with the Index after receiving his award.
“I’m not much on pomp and circumstance,” he said with a chuckle. “I just do my job. I’m just happy I got to the point where I could retire. Sometimes you’re not that lucky in this profession.
“It’s been a good career. I’ve worked with a lot of good people. I’ve really enjoyed it. I kind of hate to be leaving, but as you get older everything works to your (disadvantage). Your vision dims, your hearing dims... I just got tired of people sneaking up on me.”
Bragg’s story of law enforcement of the wild western bank of PK Lake is the tale of a long climb. He said when he first started out there, he was essentially all alone on the western edge of the county.
“They referred to it as ‘No man’s land,’ literally,” he said. “It’s cut off over there by the lake. I was the only one over there. There were thieves over there carrying off stuff by the truckload.”
Not only was Bragg alone, but in the beginning, according to Sheriff Ira Mercer, he was also grossly underpaid. But he remained a stalwart presence.
“Noah’s been our law enforcement presence over there for years,” Mercer said. “When he started, he did it for free, pretty much. Noah has always been solid as a rock. He’s very reliable. He knows every square inch of that place and everything that goes on over there. If we had a problem, we could go to Noah and he’d tell us how it went down.”
Mercer said that the transition from Bragg to Santifer should be a seamless one, as the two have spent the last two years working in close concert while Bragg intentionally groomed his own replacement. Although he has received Bragg’s adamant blessing, Santifer said he knows he has “big shoes to fill.”
“It’s going to be hard to replace Noah,” he said. “He knows everybody over there by their first name. I’m going to have to get used to that. (But) We’re all out to do the same thing: serve the people of Palo Pinto County. It’s not going to be any different than what I’ve been doing the past 12 years.”
Mercer said he has already found a potential candidate from the Graham area to replace Santifer as the PPSO’s PK Lake West deputy. He said, considering the way that area is growing, he believes it is more important than ever to have a deputy in that area to lighten the load for the Precinct 3 constable.
As for Bragg, he said he is ready to settle into the quiet life of retirement. He paraphrased the famous US General Douglas MacArthur on his plans for this next well-deserved chapter of life.
“I want to be kind of like MacArthur when he retired,” he said.
“Constables are kind of like old (soldiers), they don’t die; ‘they just fade away.’”
In other business, commissioners unanimously approved:
• Monthly reports for the County Auditor, Treasurer, Sheriff, Emergency Management, Public Works and Information Technology.
• Bomgar Annual Maintenance Renewal.
• Untagle Annual Maintenance Renewal for Palo Pinto Courthouse and Postons Courthouse Annex.
• Appointment of Larry Lack to Palo Pinto County Historical Commission. Nicklas said he wanted to go forward with this appointment because the Historical Commission has plans to do inventory on all of the county’s cemeteries and Lack has considerable experience in this area.
• Automobile liability and automobile physical damage insurance policy renewal.
• Permit to cut Keechi Ranch Road by BorderLine Operating in Precinct 2.
• Transfer of flatbed trailer (seized about a year ago) to Precinct 1 for the use of PPSO.
• Request to shorten Benavides Lane in Precinct 1. Commissioners were presented with a signed petition to shorten the road two-tenths of a mile, where it leads down to the Brazos River. According to information presented in court, the road leads nowhere and is frequently used for illegal dumping in the river bed. Shortening the road will eliminate this and other problems for residents of the area.
• Construction Contract Change Order No. 2 for the county’s TxCDBG Sewer Project.
• Resolution for Charlie Sims. Nicklas has plans to declare Feb. 4 “Charlie Sims Day” in honor of the long-time chief at Lone Camp Volunteer Fire Department who is leaving the job.