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Commissioners Court requests Public Defense Office


A file photo of the Hays County Historic Courthouse.

At its May 3 meeting, the Hays County Commissioners Court submitted a grant application for $1,085,325 to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, Improvement Grant Program for the Hays County Holistic Public Defense Office and Managed Assigned Counsel Program, generating the request for a Public Defender’s Office.
A renewal grant application was also authorized for submission to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission for the Indigent Defense Coordinator grant project in the amount of $77,292, for which the county will provide a cash match of up to 60%.
The Commissioners Court proclaimed May 9-15 as Police Week and May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, acknowledging officers who have passed while in the line of duty.
Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe thanked local officers for their services and for keeping citizens safe.
“I truly appreciate everything that y’all do, every day that you come to do your job and put your lives on the line is certainly profound for me,” Ingalsbe says.
The commissioners also commented on keeping the families of officers killed in the line of duty, such as Justin Putnam and Kenneth Copeland, in their thoughts.
“You have to go from an enforcer to a child psychologist in two seconds, and I don’t wish those types of situations on anybody, but I know that the training and the wherewithal that you’ll have to carry with you on a daily basis is something that I could never imagine having,” Commissioner Walt Smith says.
The court also confirmed the appointment of Tate Puryear as a regular full-time Deputy Constable in the Hays County Constable Precinct 4 Office, James V. Mora as a regular full-time Deputy Constable and Gabriel D. Cunnion as a Reserve Deputy Constable in the Hays County Constable Precinct 2 Office.
The commissioners adopted two more proclamations, the first declaring May 5 as Cinco de Mayo, and the second recognizing and celebrating the contributions of the first families of Hays County in the spirit of Cinco de Mayo.
During the court’s COVID-19 updates, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra says he has reached out to local organizations, such as the Dunbar Heritage Association, to initiate additional vaccination options.
“I had the privilege of making a little video with a few folks from the Dunbar Heritage Association, taping them specifically to help create non-traditional paths of reaching out to different spaces. Because we all, all of us, can do the same thing of breathing our own air sometimes and not out reaching spaces that we are missing, we had all have an opportunity to be not as efficient as we would like,” Becerra says.
Hays County Emergency Services Office Director Mike Jones says civilians that are homebound or unable to schedule a vaccination appointment can call 833-521-2766 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. for assistance. Becerra also restates citizens can now receive vaccinations until 10 p.m. at Hays County after-hour vaccine clinics.
To create more polling locations and solidify voter distribution among the county, the court discussed the establishment of a Citizens Advisory Commission for redistricting. After further conversation on what districts the Citizens Advisory Commission would be focusing on and who would be chosen as representatives, the court agreed to table the decision until more information was provided.
The commissioners continue to show their support for HB 4618 in the 87th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature. Commissioners Smith and Lon Shell will represent the court at the Texas Legislature for the next two weeks in order to ensure the bill remains consistent with what the court deems as the greater good for the community.
“I still have a concern because of the way that this sausage is being made, and I hate to say that, but again five versions [of the bill] within two days is concerning to me,” Smith says. “We don’t know what it’s gonna look like when it comes out of committee.”
Due to the bill possibly changing in the future and the commissioners possibly deciding they want to support it again; Smith believes resending the bill would not make complete sense.
The commissioners also authorized the sale of fireworks beginning May 26 and ending at midnight May 31.
The Hays County Commissioners Court meets every Tuesday at 9 a.m. For more information, visit its website.

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