Court hears update on feral hog initiative

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Hill County commissioners were updated on the county’s feral hog eradication program during a regular meeting held Tuesday, September 9.

The proposed county budget includes $10,000 for the program, which will be implemented in lieu of hiring a county trapper. The court chose not to fill the position after the last trapper resigned.

Extension Agent Ryan Collett said the goal is to significantly reduce the feral hog population and the economic, agricultural and environmental damage the hogs cause in the county. Some of the planned activities include a bounty program, educational sessions and helicopter hunts.

Collett said the bounty program will make the biggest difference, and the committee is focusing on it first.

After attending a mandatory educational meeting, hunters will be paid $7.50 per tail at payment locations throughout the county. The goal is to begin the initiative Wednesday, October 10.

Meetings are scheduled for Thursday, October 9, at Woodbury Community Center and Thursday, October 16, at Malone Fire Station. Anyone interested in participating is invited to attend.

Commissioner Steven Sulak pointed out that he believes the state will require anyone hunting hogs to have a hunting license, and Collett said he would check on the requirement.

Charles Bryant was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Emergency Services District 1 board of directors. County Judge Justin Lewis said he interviewed Bryant and felt he would make a great addition to the board.

Commissioners approved the county holiday schedule, leaving it the same as last year with 12 employee holidays on the calendar.

Commissioner Harley Davis said he would like to see the county become more involved in Hill County Day at the State Fair of Texas. “A lot of individuals and school districts that used to take off for that don’t anymore,” he said.

Davis said he would like to see the holiday included in calendars again. “It’s always a good thing for Hill County citizens to go to the fair, see the students showing livestock and promote Hill County.”

The judge said he would make a few phone calls and look into the matter.

Hill County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Kyle Cox approached the court about pre-ordering two vehicles that have been included in the proposed FY 2015 county budget.

Any vehicles ordered under the state contract would have to be 2015 models after September 12, Cox said. That would increase the price of the trucks by about $2,500.

Both Lewis and County Auditor Susan Swilling were concerned about making the move before the budget goes into effect. “I think that would pose problems for us about buying something out of next year’s budget this year,” the judge said.

Sulak questioned whether a contract would have to be signed requiring the county to purchase the vehicles. If so, the commissioner said it was not the right time to order them.

“I appreciate everything the sheriff’s office is doing to try to save the taxpayers money,” Lewis added. “I also appreciate the archaic bidding processes and purchasing rules that we have to go through to be in compliance with state law.” The judge recommended no action be taken.

In another agenda item, commissioners approved new Treasurer Rhonda Burkhart’s bond.

At the request of the county attorney, action was tabled on an interlocal cooperation agreement for county jail functions with Bosque County.

The court approved a contract allowing Elections Administrator Patsy Damschen to provide services for the Hill County Emergency Services District 2 election in November.

Two bids were received for bridge timbers and scrap materials. The winning bid was from John Moss in the amount of $1,300.

Commissioners Danny Bodeker and Larry Wright were both absent from the meeting due to family medical emergencies.


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