The Somervell County Commissioners Court on Monday, Sept. 9 voted unanimously to approve the creation of a district clerk office separate from the county clerk.
Michelle Reynolds currently has the dual role of Somervell County’s district clerk and county clerk.
County Judge Danny Chambers said that the district judge will select the new district clerk for the job, until the next election cycle.
“The district judges are to appoint that person,” Chambers said. “They will appoint, I’m told, before the end of the quarter.”
Although the appointment will be made by the district judges for the short term, both the county and district clerk will be elected positions in the future. Reynolds ran unopposed for reelection to the dual position in 2018.
The change to having those positions separated for Somervell County was mandated by state statute because the county’s population had surpassed the mark for that requirement, according to Chambers.
Asked if the current county annex building will be able to house both the county and district clerk offices when they are separated, Chambers said it’s too soon to know that.
“That’s up in the air,” Chambers said, referring to the office’s location and cost involed. “It’s way too early to say.”
The commissioners also were unanimous in voting to appoint Judge Chambers as the “official county spokesperson.”
After the agenda item was read in the meeting, Chambers stated, “This was brought to me.”
When asked later who brought the issue to him, he declined to say other than it was “a commissioner.”
The purposed, Chambers said in an email, is “So the public would get one answer instead of many different answers.”
Chambers indicated later that the commissioners and other county officials continue to have the freedom to communicate with any news media inquiries that may arise. But now they will also have the option of referring those questions to Chambers, he noted, saying, “Any county official or county employee can send them to me for a statement or clarification on a particular item.”
Chambers said later that he will be the spokesman “When needed, and hopefully not needed very much. On important issues, I’m usually kept in the loop.”
That agenda item was specifically worded to say the appointment was for “Judge Chambers as the official county spokesperson.” When Chambers was asked in his office on Wednesday if that means that future Somervell County judges will automatically become the official county spokesperson when they are elected, he said that it would have to be put to another vote when that time comes.
“That would be up to future courts if it would be the judge or someone else,” Chambers responded in his email, which was sent to the Glen Rose Reporter as well as the commissioners.
The second of two public hearings on the proposed tax rate increase to $0.5375 cents per $100 of tax evaluation for the 2019-2020 fiscal year was held on Friday, Sept. 13.
The commissioners have a 9:30 a.m. meeting set for Monday, Sept. 23 when Chambers said he hopes they will vote up or down on the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
“Hopefully we will put the budget to bed on that day,” Chambers said, noting that he does not foresee any major problems looming. “Not at this time, I don’t.”
The commissioners heard a report from Dr. Donald Kelm, district extension administrator for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Center out of Stephenville on the vacancy in the position of Somervell County extension agent. The former local extension agent, Ellerie Jackson, resigned to take a job with the Hico Independent School District.
Interviews of candidates for that position were recently done, and the post could potentially be filled by Oct. 1.