Senator Kip Averitt (R-District 22) visited Somervell County last Wednesday to discuss past and future legislative sessions and local issues.
Averitt, who represents 10 counties in District 22, first stopped at a town hall meeting, which was held at 10 a.m. at the Somervell County Courthouse Annex. Two minutes prior to the town hall meeting, there was standing room only - something that greatly impressed Averitt.
“I preach that your government is only as good as the citizens involved in (it),” he said. “I hope that you find our office is always available.”
Averitt, chairman of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, addressed several residents and their concern for the future of Chalk Mountain.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is currently in the process of reviewing a permit submitted by Tommy Davis of Slick Machines. The permit seeks permission for Davis’ company to operate a rock crusher on Chalk Mountain. The last meeting with TCEQ was on Sept. 3 at the Somervell County Expo Center.
“People here know me as the guy leading the charge to ‘Save Chalk Mountain,’” Darrell Best said. “We have had three meetings with TCEQ and they need some desperate help.”
Best continued on to inform the audience and Senator Averitt that his research concluded that TCEQ’s budget was $500 million per year, with $1.9 million allocated to the air division.
“It seems to me we ought to be spending some more money on the air,” he said.
Best then requested Averitt to write a letter to TCEQ on behalf of Somervell County residents asking for the permit to be denied.
“(There is) no doubt that is the single biggest issue my office has heard about,” Averitt said. “We take our air quality very seriously.
I write (TCEQ’s) budget. Two years ago we tripled the air quality budget.”
Averitt was also informed by residents on Wednesday that in the last meeting TCEQ stated that air emissions from rock crushers were measured by placing tape on fences.
“We do use electronic monitors for ozone,” Averitt said. “Monitors don’t lie. Once we get the monitors in place, there is no arguing.”
He empathized with residents and said he faced a similar situation in Limestone County years ago.
“(Glen Rose) just happens to be a charming spot in Texas and we don’t need to do anything to mess that up,” Averitt said.
“I learned some things today at the town hall meeting, which is why we do these things. TCEQ’s methods are antiquated at best. I think I can help them,” he said. “(There is) data that will help asses if we have an air quality issue. It means we are going to have better information to base the information on.”