Blanco County Commissioners held a Regular Meeting on March 11, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. All four County Commissioners and County Judge Bill Guthrie attended the meeting. The Blanco County Commissioners met in the Commissioners Courtroom of the Blanco County Courthouse in Johnson City, Texas.
County Commissioner John Wood led the Court in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Blanco County Clerk Karen Newman read the minutes of the last meeting of the Commissioners Court. The minutes were approved as read with Commissioner Chris Liesmann seconding the motion for approval made by Commissioner James Sultemeier.
The Court heard a motion from Commissioner Wood to put the burn ban back on until the Special meeting of March 25, 2014. Commissioner Wood said that although Blanco County has received some rain it was not enough to amount to very much. No second was given to this motion. Therefore, the burn ban was not extended.
John Alvis spoke to the Court regarding the erection of signs and addition of bike trails on Pedernales Falls Road. According to Alvis, “there will be trail and bike crossings at two points along a one and a half mile stretch. Signage will be better and this will be done at the State’s expense. There will be four pedestrian crossing signs at the trail crossing sites, and signs to mark the entrance.” Commissioner James Sultemeier told the Court, “the road needs to be utilized and they have accepted responsibility to maintain the signs.” Commissioner Sultemeier gave a motion to authorize Pedernales Falls State Park to erect signs on Pedernales Falls Road. This motion was seconded by Commissioner Paul Granberg and no discussion followed; the motion carried.
Commissioners voted to declare 2007 F150 as surplus property and authorize to place on GovDeals. The Court also voted to accept a certificate of continuing education hours for the District Clerk as stated in Texas Government Code Sec. 51.605.
The Court considered and approved the appointment of Glenn Sultemeier to the North Blanco County Emergency Services District Board to complete the unexpired term vacated by the resignation of Gene Yentzen. This term will expire on December 31, 2014. Judge Guthrie told the Commissioners Court, “Glenn is a local resident and he has agreed to serve after careful consideration.” A motion to approve the appointment of Glenn Sultemeier was made by Commissioner Liesmann and seconded by Commissioner Wood.
Jim Barho, Emergency Management Coordinator of Burnet County gave an extensive presentation to the Court on the Tri-County trunked new radio system. Barho introduced himself as the Project Coordinator. According to Barho, some of the equipment that had been in use was outdated and no longer certified. One of the radio towers in Burnet County is 45 years old, and the Pack Saddle Tower was built during the time of LBJ. Barho told the Court, “this work is an excellent example of regional corporate partnership. It [the trunked radio system] is well done, and I am pleased with what we have accomplished. Through combined efforts and resources, including grant monies, we have a fine system that is second to none.”
Barho went on to explain the improvements the new system will offer the tri-county areas of Blanco, Llano, and Burnet. These areas make up the western counties of Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) region of a larger area of counties known as Greater Austin/Travis Regional Radio System (GATRRS). According to Barho, “before the new system was implemented our coverage was poor. Now we are linked to the Austin master site. One of the chief advantages of partnering with a much bigger system is that we receive the benefits of a larger system with little cost. Our coverage has been improved from 45% to 94%, and this is very important for safety and first responders.”
Barho explained that the project had required a great deal of time and work for all who participated. The Executive and Operations Committees held frequent meetings, and Judge Guthrie and Commissioner Liesmann were an integral part of the planning. Allocation of work progress needed to be planned carefully, because grant money was received incrementally. According to Barho, the program consisted of three phases. Phase One ran from 2004-2006 and included the installation of conventional units. Phase Two lasted from 2007-2009 and consisted of master antennae and combined microwave backbone construction. Phase Three continued from 2010-2012 and consisted of upgrades. Grant funds were received from Homeland Security Grant Funds and the new system is in full compliance with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Narrowband Mandate. The new trunked radio system was fully completed on August 28, 2013, three days ahead of schedule.
Barho continued, “all towers are constructed the same way. The sites require special equipment and grounding, and sufficient grounding is very important. We kept the converted radio system and operate on 150 band width.” Barho concluded his presentation and said, “these improvements will be beneficial for many years to come. We all worked together to achieve one major accomplishment. We have plans for future site locations for increased coverage.”
Judge Guthrie thanked Barho for a very in depth presentation. Judge Guthrie said, “the presentation shows where we have started and where we are now. The program is not ended and we hope to expand, to fill in holes. The majority of the work is done but we hope to grow and improve.” Judge Guthrie added that the work has taken almost 12 years and that Commissioner Liesmann has been very active, a big help.
The Commissioners went on to approve the estimated March 2014 payroll in the amount of $256,564.35. The official reports were also approved by the Commissioners Court. A motion to approve the outstanding bills in the amount of $87,312.02 was given by Commissioner Sultemeier and seconded by Commissioner Liesmann.