On Monday during the Somervell County Commissioner’s Court meeting, officials from the Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant presented a $50,000 donation to the county to be used for emergency preparedness.
Ken Peters, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer at Comanche Peak, and Patrick Allen, the plant’s chief emergency planner, were on hand to represent Luminant and formally announce the donation.
Caroline Atkins, Luminan’s manager of corporate affairs, stated, “The donation is a part of Comanche Peak’s commitment to continuing its long-standing relationship with off-site response organizations and to provide effective emergency response capacity for Somervell County communities.”
It’s the third straight year the parent company, Luminant, to make that donation to bolster security in relationship to the nuclear plant, according to Commissioner Kenneth Wood.
The money is to be used only for security-related purposes and will be shared by the Sheriff’s Office, the Somervell County Fire Department and the local EMS service.
“It hasn’t been determined yet how it will be cut up,” Wood said. “Next month we’ll have a work budget session, so that probably will come up then.”
Also during Monday’s proceedings, the county completed a switch to having its own juvenile probation officer, and the result will save money.
The old inter-local agreement for utilizing Johnson County’s juvenile probation officer was terminated. In December, local juvenile officer Heather Bachhofer had been named as the county’s chief juvenile probation officer.
“The county will do better now, even with the car and the salary,” County Judge Danny Chambers said. “We’ll save approximately $30,000 a year. It was just a good move for Somervell County. “Heather was a good candidate for the chief juvenile probation officer.”
Sheriff Alan West asked the commissioners to consider a pay raise for deputies who are certified in speaking Spanish on the job. The increase he proposed was $50 a month. The state already requires deputies to pass an intermediate Spanish test, which is just a basic course.
West told the Court that improving the level of Spanish-speaking ability among his deputies will increase safety.
“We want them to be proficient,” said West, noting that if the master level in Spanish is achieved, that proposed raise could mean an additional $1,800 per year for that individual.
After discussion, including a comment by Commissioner John Curtis that the exact cost being proposed “must be clear,” it was decided to hold off on the proposal for now.
“We’ll table it and get a comprehensive deal back to you,” West said.
Commissioners also heard recommendations from West to purchase four new patrol vehicles, and phase in others later when needed, over the next two years. West said that buying four now would prevent a repeat of what happened last time vehicles were needed, when seven were purchased at once.
“There needs to be some thought into that,” Wood noted, adding that he was surprised by the request. “That will have to be debated. We purchased eight new vehicles just a little over two and a half years ago. One of those cars (a Chevy Tahoe) has been demolished in an accident. I look for them to come back next month.”
Fire marshal Mark Crawford also discussed possible changes in starting pay for firefighter/paramedics, which would bring into play incentives based on the future certification they achieve. He told the Glen Rose Reporter that it would mean a lower starting rate, but would add monthly incentives for those who reach various levels of certification.
Crawford noted that training expenses would then be paid out of pocket by the individual firefighters, but that they could be reimbursed by the state later through grants.
“Our pay is less than those around us, so anything we can do makes us more competitive,” Crawford told the Court. “We want them to get these certifications. We want them to be better firefighters.”
That proposal will also be considered by commissioners at a later date.