Ranger College seeks 1,200 signatures by July 21 to call for annexation election

Ranger College must collect approximately 1,200 signatures on a petition before the board of regents can call for an annexation referendum election for the November 2017 ballot. That information was shared at a public hearing Tuesday night regarding the possible annexation of Brown County into the Ranger College taxing district.

In order to annex Brown County into their taxing district, Ranger College would have to collect the signatures of 1,200 registered voters from Brown County before July 21. Those signatures would have to be received by the board of regents, who would then order the election for this November.

If Brown County voters approved the annexation referendum, then Ranger College would renovate the former Bank of America building on Center Avenue into a new, state of the art campus, course offerings would be expanded, and tuition for Brown County residents would be cut by 49 percent. Ranger College would then levy a property tax rate of 11 cents per $100 valuation for the first year, though Ranger College President Dr. Bill Campion acknowledged that the tax rate could increase in future years as the board of regents sets the tax rate as part of their annual budget every August.

Dr. Campion reported that by state law, taxes can only be raised three percent without holding a public hearing, and can only be raised 7.99 percent without triggering a tax roll-back election. Dr. Campion added that at approximately four of the board members would be elected from Brown County. Ranger College’s board of regents is currently a 9-member body.

Several spoke in favor of Ranger College annexing Brown County into its taxing district. Students from Early ISD discussed the benefit of dual enrollment, Domingo Perez discussed how Ranger College helped Diamond P Enterprises train employees so his company could fulfill a major contract, Robert Porter discussed how Ranger’s presence was good for economic development, and Early Mayor Dr. Robert Mangrum discussed the value of higher education.

Several residents had questions regarding the tax rate, the prospects of the tax rate increasing over the next several years, and one resident expressed concern that the added tax bill would off-set the cost of living raises to his Social Security benefits for the rest of his life.

Opposition and questions during Tuesday’s public hearing centered on the impact the annexation would have on Brown County’s property taxpayers. If the annexation were approved, and if the 11-cent tax rate were adopted, then the property taxes on a $100,000 would increase by $110.

Ranger College is also proposing to annex Erath and Comanche Counties into their taxing district. Currently, Ranger’s taxing district consists of the portion of the Ranger Independent School District that is located within the bounds of Eastland County.

Ranger College clarifies proposed tax rate

Ranger College officials say that the only tax on the ballot in Brown, Erath and Comanche Counties is the 11-cent per $100 valuation. In an email to KXYL, Public Relations Director Ryan Ronan explained that the 11-cent tax is the only tax on the ballot for Brown County, and there will be no debt tax, or any other tax proposed to, or voted on by Brown County voters. Brown County voters will consider being annexed into the Ranger College taxing district in an upcoming referendum election.

With that in mind, the 11-cent tax on a $100,000 home would result in that homeowner’s property tax bill increasing by $110 per year.

Previous reports of a 32.272 cent tax rate were drawn from a service plan where Ranger College reported that the administration anticipated a 21.2721-cent I&S tax rate to service debt. Ronan told KXYL that tax rate is not being proposed to Brown County voters.

Ranger College’s service plan to Brown County indicates that the school plans to expand services to Brown County if the annexation referendum passes.

A public hearing about the annexation will be held Tuesday, June 27, at 7 pm at the Ranger College campus at Heartland Mall.

Early Police and TxDOT team up to boost DWI enforcement

The Early Police Department is joining forces with the Texas Department of transportation (TxDot) and other law enforcement agencies across Texas in the impaired Driver Mobilization (IDM) campaign. The purpose of the IDM campaign is to reduce the number of DWI related crashes, injuries and fatalities through the use of dedicated DWI patrols. Alcohol related traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities continue to occur on the roadways of Brown County and throughout Texas. The Early Police Department is a no refusal agency. If someone refuses a blood test, a search warrant will be applied for before a judge and the blood sample will be taken. The IDM period begins June 25th and end July 5th where extra officers will be patrolling the streets.

“Drunk Driving crashes are completely avoidable. Lives are changed forever from a DWI fatality”. Drunk driving is not defined as way too drunk. Instead intoxication is defined as not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties, or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The average 180 lbs person becomes impaired after 2-3 drinks and intoxicated or above 0.08 after 3-4 drinks.

DWI is a serious crime and totally preventable.  A first-time conviction along with bail, legal fees, court appearances, court ordered classes, insurance increases and other expenses can total around $17,000.

 

-Contributed by Early Police Chief David Mercer

US 183/84 between Early and Zephyr to close Thursday for railroad bridge demolition

BROWNWOOD – All traffic on US 84/183 between Early and Zephyr in Brown County is scheduled to be detoured for a 4-hour period on Thursday, June 29 as crews close the highway to demolish the old railroad bridge at the Fort Worth & Western Railroad.

For the 4-hour period between approximately 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday, June 29, all traffic will be detoured between the communities of Zephyr and Blanket.

Travelers heading out of Brownwood/Early towards Zephyr/Goldthwaite will be detoured to US 67/377 to Blanket, then south on FM 1467 to Zephyr.

Travelers heading towards Brownwood/Early from Zephyr/Goldthwaite will be detoured to FM 1467 to Blanket, then into Early on US 67/377.

As the length of the detour is approximately 20 miles, travelers should allow substantially more time to reach their destinations.

Once the highway is reopened to traffic at approximately 1 p.m., traffic delays at the bridge site could be expected until mid-late Thursday afternoon while crews complete the bridge removal.

Following the bridge removal, contractors will begin construction of a new, wider bridge. A temporary bridge has been constructed to allow continued railroad operations during the construction period.

The new bridge will allow US 84/183 to be widened to four 12-foot travel lanes as the highway passes under the railroad. Currently, the highway is a four-lane facility on either side of the existing bridge, but the highway must narrow to only two lanes as it passes under the bridge. Construction of the $12.4 million project is expected to be completed in spring 2018.

Off-duty Brownwood police officer killed in accident

A traffic accident on U.S. 183 north of Early claimed the life of 42 year old Bryan Greenrock, an off-duty Brownwood police officer who was traveling with his 11-year old son. Greenrock had served with the Brownwood Police Department since 2013. Prior to that, he worked for the Coleman Police Department. His son suffered minor injuries in the crash. The driver of the other vehicle was seriously injured and taken to a Waco hospital for treatment.