Blanco County News
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Capital Highlights
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 • Posted October 9, 2007

AUSTIN - The Texas Youth Commission removed 197 male inmates confined at the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center in Bronte and transferred them to other facilities on Oct. 2.

Recent audits of the facility, near San Angelo, operated by the private firm GEO Group Inc. raised concerns about the safety and welfare of inmates.

On Oct. 1, TYC acting executive director Dimitria Pope determined the facility was in an advanced state of disrepair, that programming and rehabilitation efforts were not being pursued, and the overall health and safety of the youth housed there were in jeopardy. She ordered the transfer of the youths.

The state canceled its $8 million annual contract with GEO Group and an investigation has begun.

Disaster declaration is approved

President George W. Bush on Oct. 3 approved a federal disaster declaration for Bexar, Harris, Jones, Kendall, Medina and Taylor counties to help address severe flooding and wind damage caused by Tropical Storm Erin.

The declaration covers damages incurred Aug. 14-20, when a foot or more of rainfall was recorded in portions of the state, contributing to six deaths, plus road closures, flooded homes and more than 100 high-water rescues.

Gov. Rick Perry on Oct. 3 said individuals and families who are not covered by insurance can apply for financial assistance, temporary housing, tax relief, legal services, crisis counseling and unemployment assistance.

President vetoes kids' health bill

President Bush on Oct. 3 carried through on his promise to veto legislation he said would be too costly and would have made health coverage available to families that are not needy enough.

The federal SCHIP bill was crafted to increase funding for state children's health insurance programs and expand it to cover more families that make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but still cannot afford health insurance.

Funding for SCHIP under the vetoed bill would have totaled $35 billion over five years. The president has an alternative plan that would increase current funding by $5 billion over five years.

Members of the U.S. House are counting votes to see if there are enough to override Bush's veto.

Texas ranks lowest among the 50 states in making health care available to its poorer citizens.

Texas awards first wind leases

The Texas General Land Office on Oct. 2 awarded the first four bid leases for offshore wind power in U.S. history.

"The Texas Wind Rush is on, and the pioneers are staking their claims," Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said.

The leases, awarded to Louisiana-based Wind Energy Systems Technology, allow work to begin on the construction of meteorological testing towers on the tracts.

Once the wind farms are operational, the lessee will pay the state's Permanent School Fund a minimum of $132 million over the 30-year life of the leases.

Nutrition programs move to TDA

USDA nutrition programs formerly administered by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission moved to the Texas Department of Agriculture effective Oct. 1.

Now the TDA administers the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program for private and faith-based schools, Summer Food Service Program, Special Milk Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Food Distribution Program, Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Texas Commodity Assistance Program.

Online sex offenders are arrested

Investigators with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's Cyber Crimes and Fugitive Units arrested 14 convicted sex offenders who illegally created profiles on the Web site MySpace.com.

After receiving a subpoena from Attorney General Abbott earlier this year, MySpace.com provided investigators with a list of registered sex offenders who use the site.

Registration deadline is upon us

Oct. 9 is the voter registration deadline for the Nov. 6 election.

Registration applications are available at www.sos.state.tx.us, the secretary of state's Web site.

Also, voters may register at county voter registrar's offices, and most libraries, post offices and high schools.

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