Tucker Commission looks at water issues

A public hearing regarding the Hamrick Public Service District Water System kicked off the Tucker County Commission meeting this week.

Cary Smith, project manager for Region VII, said the purpose of the hearing was to gather public feedback regarding a Small Cities Block Grant request for $1.5 million.

“This grant is part of a very competitive program and is intended to extend water to Location Road and upgrade the water plant and lines,” Smith said at Wednesday’s meeting. “The total project costs are estimated at $5.7 million.”

Commissioner Lowell Moore explained the project is necessary because the people do not have water. Moore said residents carry water 12 months a year.

“When these folks built their homes, there were good wells,” said Commissioner Mike Rosenau. “Now, the water tables have changed and people do not have any water.”

County Clerk Sherry Simmons asked what she should tell residents calling in after legal ads are published.

“Hamrick PSD customers will have to absorb the debt costs because rates cannot be split,” said Smith. “Please remember you do not pay back this $1.5 million because it is a grant.”

Following the Hamrick PSD hearing, commissioners discussed the towing rotation issues for the county. Tucker County Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora updated commissioners on the current procedures.

“We currently follow a rotation schedule for towing,” LaMora said. “If a specific towing company is not requested, the towing company called rotates through those that are licensed. The state code requires the commissions to revisit the issue every three years to make sure the plan is fair, equitable, prompt and effective.”

Matt Quattro, mayor of Thomas, said the current rotation does not work.

“I think the best way to make it work is to have areas to make it easier on those towing,” Quattro said. “If we come 25 miles while a towing truck is sitting there close to the wreck, it is not the best use of time. Seems to be very inefficient. If the people want someone specific, that’s their choice. It would be more efficient and quicker for those involved if the areas were divided. I have talked to the Thomas Fire Department and this is the opinion of them and the Thomas Town Council.”

Councilwoman Diane Hinkle asked if 911 had a record of response times for the towing.

“We do not have response times and no records of wrecker response times,” said Darla Stemple of the Tucker County OEM.

Hinkle asked Sherry Simmons to pull the current policy for the towing to see if the policy dictates a response time. Simmons pulled the policy and said the response time is to be less than 30 minutes.

Robert Cooper, manager of the Division of Highways in Parsons office, said his department does not fall under the rotation system.

“We do not follow the rotation system and are not required to do so,” Cooper said. “It is our responsibility to call who can get there the quickest to get the disabled or wrecked vehicle out of the road. We have the authority to hook up a vehicle to the fastest responding towing company to our location.”

James Snelson said he was upset with the current system of calling tow trucks.

“It seems like everyone is wanting a piece of the pie,” Snelson said. “I am not going to pay the fees and taxes if I am not getting the business.”

LaMora said he had received other input to the rotation schedule.

“Representatives from the City of Parsons said they reviewed the policy and are satisfied with it as it is,” LaMora said. “Bonner’s wants no changes to the policy, Ketterman said the rotation worked well in the past and should be fine in the future and Nelson would like to see the rotation changed to jurisdictional.”

LaMora said the Parsons Fire Department responded to the question, but he did not have their response with him.

“We will review the comments and input and vote before July,” Hinkle said. “We must consider all the factors. Public safety is our first and biggest concern.”

Also during the meeting, several residents spoke about issues in the community.

  • Parsons resident Marilyn Phillips read a National Day of Prayer Proclamation, which Tucker County Commissioners approved for May 2. Phillips said she has been allowed to have a noon service on the Tucker County Courthouse steps for several years, and invited everyone to come celebrate.
  • Veteran Fred Simmons asked the commission to help support repairs and restoration for the town monument. Commissioners approved up to $3,000 for repairs and updates to the Veteran’s Memorial in Parsons.

The next Tucker County Commission meeting is slated for 9 a.m. on April 16.