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Court passes concerns to TCEQ on Church camp sewage issue

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Wood County Commissioners Court
By JOHN SPARKS

 Meeting Friday, November 2 in regular session, Wood County Commissioners adopted a resolution calling for a public meeting or public hearing on the proposed Fellowship Church's plans for sewage treatment at their new campground and retreat center on Lake Hawkins. Commissioners also approved Interlocal Agreements for 2008 funding with the county's 12 volunteer fire departments.

Under pressure from the Lake Hawkins Homeowners Association and the Friends of Lake Hawkins, the court unanimously approved a "resolution of concern" which has been sent to officials at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The issue is an application for approval of a waste treatment facility which could discharge up to 40,000 gallons per day of effluent directly into Lake Hawkins at the eastern end of the Lake. Fellowship Church, Grapevine, is applying for the waste treatment plant permit as part of a $25-million development plan for the 1,000 acre tract.

The Wood County Commissioners are requesting a public meeting or public hearing prior to the final decision on the permit application by TCEQ. The resolution identifies five issues of specific concern as follows:

"1.) Environmental Impact: Long-term pathogens caused by the treatment process could irreversibly affect the ecosystem of the lake. Since some dangerous materials cannot be entirely removed during the filtering process, future health concerns could affect those who use the lake as a recreational facility.

"2.) Catastrophe: A surge or prolonged period of rain could cause the treatment system to overflow and malfunction with disastrous effect of allowing sewage to flow directly into the lake.

"3.) Destruction: The lake, which was originally designated as a recreational facility for the county, with fishing, swimming, skiing, and camping, could be perceived as an unhealthy environment, therefore causing citizens to select alternate environmentally safe recreation facilities.

"4.) Economics: The reality or the perception of a contaminated lake could affect future county tax revenue by the abrupt termination of the development of homes, restraunts, and other lake support industries.

"5.) Preservation: It is imperative that this natural resource is protected for generations to come. While periodic testing may reveal immediate dangers, long-term problems are impossible to predict."

The communication from County officials further suggests:

"Fellowship Church, in an effort to appease these concerns, has offered to consider alternative solutions providing they do not severely delay their building process." (Fellowship plans a summer '08 opening and camping season.) "We ask that TCEQ determine whether its permit be amended to facilitate either or both of the following issues:

"1.) Direct the flow of treated wastewater first into one of the church's property lakes. This would serve to diffuse the wastewater and serve as a stop guard to a catastrophe.

"2.) The creation of artificial wetland on their grounds that were originally dedicated as common use areas by the Lake of the Woods subdivision. This would allow for further dissipating of the discharge prior to its flowing into Lake Hawkins."

Support of Fire Departments
Commissioners approved county financial support of $350,000 for the 12 volunteer fire departments serving residents throughout Wood County. Some departments have not yet satisfied certain financial reporting requirements to the county, but those that have will receive their checks now. Hawkins Volunteer Fire Department will receive $33,181 while Holly Lake Volunteer Department receives $23,501 in such county funding. Specific distribution of the funds is the responsibility of the Wood County Fire Chiefs' Association.

In other action, the Commissioners approved:
- Payment of claims in the amount of $796,211.72 (including $350,000 in fire department grants).
- Payroll in the amount of $249,073.84.
- Employee/dependent health claims of $122,662.91.
- Contracted for election system components for three years.
- Cast all county government votes for Garry Littlejohn, for a seat on the Board of Directors of the Wood County Appraisal District.
- Setting November 30 as public hearing date for consideration of a proposal to tax personal property in transit.
- Constable reports for precincts 1 and 4.
- Report of Annual Technology Report.
- Trade-in of six Sheriff Department vehicles (Ford Crown Victorias) on the purchase of four new Police Interceptors.
- Sub-recipient Agreement for 2007 Homeland Security Grant for $45,455.
Commissioners tabled consideration of 2008 Longevity Policy.
Eleven personnel actions were approved as follows:
- Andre Jackson, resignation, Information Technology technician, Information Technology Department.
- Dachelle D. Haggerty, promotion, County Clerk Deputy, County Clerk Office, from $12.06/hour to $12.42/hour.
- Carol Denson, Joy Harris, John Sloan new hire, alternate early voting election judge (temporary), $8.50/hour.
- Maria Devine, new hire, assistant elections administrator (temporary), $9.00/hour.
- Kelly Jason Smith, resignation, deputy sheriff, WCSO, $16.31/hour.
- John D. Farmer, resignation, patrol sergeant, WCSO, $16.56/hour.
- Jimmy Gene Coleman, new hire, deputy sheriff, WCSO, $16.31/hour.
- Pamala Gail Keith, new hire, general records-temporary, WC Treasurer's Office, $9.00/hour.
- Misty Renee Burns, new hire, deputy sheriff, WCSO, $16.31/hour.

The next regular meeting of the Wood County Commissioners Court will be Friday, November 16 at 10 a.m. A special meeting of the court can be called with 72-hour public notice.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 April 2009 16:41  

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