The Somervell County Commissioners Court approved on Monday to authorize a new patrol deputy position for the Sheriff’s Office.

The 5-0 vote came after one of two executive sessions that followed the regular monthly meeting.

Commissioner John Curtis said the question of adding a new patrol deputy seemed to be a “no-brainer” to him, particularly with the increase in traffic through the area on Highway 67, and more people moving into the county.

"I’m all for the protection of the people of this county,” said Curtis, who will close out his final term on the Commissioners Court at the end of this year because he chose not to run for re-election. “The Sheriff’s Department identified the need, and they explained that need, and the court was unanimous in voting for it. The traffic on 67, it seems every day gets worse. We’re growing. The Metroplex is coming this way.”

Dwayne Griffin, chief deputy for Sheriff Alan West, told the Reporter that there are currently 12 patrol deputies, two school resource officers and four investigators employed by the Sheriff's Office.

Police Chief Buck Martin is the only police officer employed by the city of Glen Rose. Martin was hired by Glen Rose as a patrol officer in 2009. Martin was was named police chief in 2012, and has been the city’s only law enforcement officer for most of that time other than a brief period when he had a part-time patrol officer.

As a result, the Sheriff’s Office and the Highway Patrol help whenever and wherever needed. The DPS recently increased its presence in Somervell County, increasing its number of troopers from two to four, according to County Judge Danny Chambers.

Chambers noted that the Sheriff’s Office will now begin advertising that applications are being accepted for the patrol officer position. The starting salary will be within the parameters of the county salary grade system, but the exact figure offered will be determined by the candidate’s education and other qualifications.

Information from the other executive session was that Brady Martin was named to a new position — County Road Superintendent. Martin has been serving as in place of former County Superintendent Wade Busch, who resigned in late February to run for the expiring Precinct 4 position on the Commissioners Court. Busch was elected to the post on March 6, and will take his place on the Commissioners Court on Jan. 1, 2018. County Auditor Brian Watts said that Martin’s salary for the newly-created job title will be set at the Grade 14, Step I level.

“We’re using this opportunity, through natural attrition, to shrink the Road and Bridge Department a little bit,” Watts explained, noting that a pay increase coming to the commissioners came with the understanding that they would take on added responsibilities in that area.

Watts also noted that an open position for an operator job within the Road and Bridge Department will not be filled.

“That’s a good day for the taxpayer,” Watts said. “As the years roll on and we have some retirements, I think we probably have a couple more reductions that can happen in the coming years.”

In other business during the meeting’s regular session:

Somervell County Veterans Officer Linda Mallon spoke to the commissioners about free legal clinics offered by the Texas Legal Services Center.

Commissioners voted (5-0) to approve a request by the Paluxy River Children’s Advocacy Center for placement of blue ribbons and blue flags on the courthouse square for the month of April, which is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Holly Martin, community engagement director for the advocacy center, based in Granbury, along with Hood County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) representative Jean Cate spoke to the commissioners. Martin noted later that Friday, April 6 is designated as Texas Go Blue Day, to help bring even more awareness of the child abuse problem.

Commissioners voted (5-0) to approve the sale of fireworks by permit holders within the county between April 16 and April 21, 2018, for Texans who will be celebrating San Jacinto Day.

Commissioners voted (5-0) to approve the county’s interlocal agreement with the GRISD and the city of Glen Rose for the Saturday, May 5, 2018 local elections.

County Elections Administrator Christy Covey spoke to the commissioners about early voting for that election, April 23 through May 1, and they approved it, 5-0. The early voting hours at the county annex building will be from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday during that period, except on the first and last Tuesday, when the hours will expand to 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Also by unanimous 5-0 vote, the commissioners made a partial payment of $9,812.50 toward the ongoing flooring project in the annex building. The overall project, which was previously approved and began several weeks ago, is just over $24,000.

The commissioners also voted (5-0) to approve a budget transfer of $25,000 from the contingency budget to pay for previously approved equipment for the Somervell County Fire Department. The SCFD will be getting a federal grant in the future that will reimburse the county that amount, County Auditor Brian Watts noted.