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.

Two suspects named in Early vandalism cases

The Early Police Department named two suspects in the vandalism cases where racial slurs and lines were spray painted on several mobile homes and a movie theater screen in Early. Acting on a tip, Early police contacted 22 year old Matthew Allen Keefe, of Brownwood, and 22 year old Jessie Rodriguez of Abilene. Early police say the two admitted to drinking and looking for places to “tag.” They went to the mobile home park, and then Heartland Mall, where they found an unlocked door leading into the theater. On Wednesday 06/14/2017 warrants were obtained for Burglary of a building (with intent to commit criminal mischief) and Graffiti over $2,500 under $30,000.

Early ISD to consider arming staff

Early ISD will consider arming staff during their upcoming school board meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, June 19, at the administration building on Turtle Creek Drive. The board will consider instituting a “Guardian Program,” which would result in some staff members being armed.

A notice sent to Early ISD parents announced that the board will take public comments on the matter during a public hearing Monday at the administration building. Those wishing to comment before the meeting can do so by calling the Early ISD administration offices.

The announcement sent to parents states that the district has been evaluating campus safety for a long time.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the district invited Early Police Chief David Mercer to evaluate how well Early schools were prepared to respond to a school shooting. Mercer highlighted some of the district’s structural deficiencies, as well as procedures Early ISD could institute to limit campus accessibility, and response procedures in the event of a shooting.

BISD approves drug testing policy

In an effort to curb teenage drug abuse, the Brownwood ISD Board of Trustees approved a drug-testing policy Monday aimed at giving students a reason to “just say no.”

Superintendent Dr. Joe Young said the effort is designed to foster excellence in Brownwood schools by creating an atmosphere where drugs are not welcome.

“We want to create a culture where drugs are not okay,” he said, “Where people have the opportunity to say no, whether that’s what they want to do, or whether they fear that they may be tested, it really doesn’t matter why, as long as we can keep kids off drugs and be part of that solution.”

The policy will go into effect this school year. Students will be selected at random to participate in drug screenings.

Police discover narcotics during traffic stop

Brownwood police made an arrest on drug charges following a traffic stop in the 1200 block of Austin Avenue after a vehicle failed to stop at a designated spot in an intersection. Police report that consent was given to search the vehicle, which turned up a small amount of narcotics. Christopher Allen Smith was charged with possession of a controlled substance in a drug free zone.

HPU gears up for another great summer of camps

Although most students have left for the summer, Howard Payne University will be full of activity during June and July. Six day camps and five overnight camps are scheduled to take place at HPU for the 2017 summer season. The university is expecting more than 1,200 overnight campers. Also, approximately 400 campers will be attending day camps this summer at HPU.

This week, HPU is hosting the JROTC Cadet Staff Leadership Course Camp for participants ages 14-18 and the JROTC Cadet Leadership Camp for participants ages 14-16. These cadets are from more than 25 high schools across the state of Texas.

Later in June, HPU will host an overnight Band Camp and the BGCT’s Super Summer camp.

“These two overnight camps always bring lots of energy and excitement to the campus,” said Debbie Childs, director of university events. “Having camps during the summer is a unique and fun experience because we get to show off our campus to prospective students. We also have the opportunity for our staff to build leadership skills within our team and create new relationships with campers.”

HPU also hosts multiple sport camps and day camps including the university’s Summer Scholars and Young Scholars day camps to be held July 17-21. The HPU Summer Scholars and Young Scholars camps are for first- through sixth-grade students and feature innovative instruction in a variety of subjects including robotics and 3D printing.

HPU’s summer camp staff, led by Childs as well as Kathy James, special events coordinator, facilitates all of the summer camps to help ensure that all guests have fun, safe and Christ-centered experiences while on campus. The staffers for this year include Derek Anderson, senior political science/pre-law major from Killeen; Titus Brown, junior business administration major with an emphasis in management from White Castle, Louisiana; Trey Carpenter, senior Christian education major from Hamilton; Madelyn Deviney, junior accounting and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Bulverde; Darius Edwards, sophomore broadcast journalism major from Waxahachie; Djimonii Jackson, senior business marketing major from Beaumont; Lindsey Krueger, sophomore music education major from Howe; Jordan Lewis, sophomore communications major from Houston; and Spencer Wolverton, junior communications major rom DeSoto.

For more information about HPU’s array of summer camps, contact University Services at 325-649-8409.