By LIBBY CLUETT
PALO PINTO – It all came down to one person making a difference when Palo Pinto County Commissioners had to deny a petition to have a November election. The petition was submitted by Santo's proposed Palo Pinto County Emergency Services District No. 2.
The prospective entity needed signatures from 100 registered voters with taxable real property within the district in order to be placed on the November ballot. They filed the petition with 126 signatures on June 6 with the county clerk's office, explained Palo Pinto County Elections Administrator Judith Evans.
After receiving the petition on June 10, Evans said that in two weeks she had several discussions with County Attorney Phil Garrett and the Texas Secretary of State's office to determine which signatures qualified and which did not.
Seven names on the petition were not registered voters, four were out of the proposed district's range and 16 were not property owners in the district, Evans informed commissioners. This left the PPCESD No. 2 with 99 qualified voters who had real property in the district – one signature short.
“We just want to see every election succeed in their processing and with their petition,” Evans said of the Santo EMS group. “Whenever you watch them get that close to getting an election, and it's their third try, it's hard.”
The next step for the proposed district is to “regroup, reorganize and repeat the process in a year to be on the November 2014 election,” Evans said, adding, “They can't do a May election because it's a primary year and we don't have enough [voting] machines [to hold another election].”
Evans further explained that she expects the same district mapping issues that affected the entire state during the last primary election, which was pushed back to late May, from its usual early March date.
“If the Supreme Court system doesn't get the maps straightened out, we could possibly end up having a delayed primary election,” she said.
“Unless the lower [Supreme] courts in San Antonio disagree with the maps, then these [2012 district maps] will be the maps we use for the primary,” explained Bill Glendening of the county election's office, based on Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
In other business, commissioners:
• Renewed a contract to cover Air Evac Lifeteam memberships for on-duty county employees and offer discounted family memberships. In addition, Heather McGlason of Air Evac Lifeteam informed commissioners that the county could cover all county residents for $150,000, roughly over $5 per person. McGlason said the company has 200 aircraft in 28 states and they are expanding services in Texas, Arizona and Colorado. She called the Mineral Wells base, located at Palo Pinto General Hospital, “one of the busiest bases in the country,” with over 30 flights per month, at an average cost of around $20,000 per flight, depending on the circumstances. The company's municipal-site plan could cover all the county residents, which she said would better “keep the dollars in the county.”
• Authorized Targa Energy's request to bore Old Christian Road in Precinct 2.
• Tabled selling Mineral Wells property at 204 S.W. 12th St., since they received no bids to purchase the land.
• Approved purchasing a Nexus 7 for courthouse security purposes, which would allow an individual to view the station at the courthouse with one application, and this could be done during foot patrol.
• Approved the PPCESD No. 1 audit, which had an “unqualified opinion,” according to board treasurer Carl Blacksten. He said there were four “hickies,” which included board continuing education for one director, a previous issue with the 2011 audit filing date, the board treasurer's bond, which he said the auditors considered the “wrong bond,” and over expending the budget, although he said they adjusted this issue to reflect insurance and tax collector fees.