Gray County Commissioners implement burn ban

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John Lee

The Gray County Commissioners Court met Monday morning for a regularly-scheduled meeting and The Pampa News caught up with County Judge Chris Porter to discuss the business covered in the meeting.

The Commissioners did enact a burn ban effective for 15 days in hopes to be able to come out of it before July 4 holiday.

One of the items discussed was the Perry Lefors Airport CARES Grant project list.

“We got Paul Loyd and James Bagley in the meeting and talked about some improvements out at the airport,” Porter said. “The No. 1 priority is the generator. The generator out there is from the 1940s, takes two people to start it (doesn’t have an automatic start) and it only powers the lights on the runway. So we went forward with what we could spend the money on.”

The Commissioners also discussed some re-paving and building hangars so more planes can be stored in Pampa, instead of Panhandle or Amarillo-Tradewinds Airport.

“They are going to get us some numbers on a new generator and what it would cost to put two or three hangars out there,” Porter said. “There’s apparently a program through TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) where if you build hangars they will match your money 75 percent, so hopefully in the future we will have some good additions to the airport that attract people.”

As for the fueling island, the Commissioners still see the need to upgrade it, but will have to look in other areas for the project.

“The problem we have right now if anyone flies into the airport, we load up a truck and we take it out there to fuel them with it,” Porter said. “The attractiveness of a fueling island is someone could come out and pay for it with a credit card through a credit card reader at the tank. That fuel can be pumped right there. It would enhance the ability for people to land there and take care of their fueling needs. 

“There are some grants out there, in the past (former Judge Richard) Peet has been real diligent about finding grants for Perry Lefors Airport. That (searching diligently for grants) hasn’t changed (with the current regime).”

The Commissioners also approved going out for a grant through the Help America Vote Act for election equipment.

“We are replacing all of our election equipment now,” Porter said. “Again, I’ve gotta give Judge Peet and (former auditor) Elaine Morriss a lot of credit because many years ago they started setting money aside in anticipation that we’d be replacing our equipment we currently have.”

Porter said the current equipment was purchased in 2006 and the parts are obsolete. 

“We are looking at replacing all of the pads and going with Hart Industries as the one who handles that,” Porter said. 

Porter said Election Administrator Randa Hiett brought the bids to the Commissioners meeting, with Hart being the lone submitter (another bidder didn’t submit a bid due to Gray County being not being large enough).

“We called around the area to see who had been with Hart Industries and to compare prices and they were spot on even though they didn’t have competition,” Porter said. “We are looking to make that change and have them implemented for the November election. This July run-off will be the last time we use this equipment. 

“The new equipment will have all of the bells and whistles on making things to where they are user-friendly. They implement a touch-screen instead of a rolling ball to make selections and is a better system, more technologically advanced, etc. We look forward to offering this to the citizens of Gray County.”

Porter mentioned that during the citizens to be heard, Gray County resident and former deputy, Robert Douglas, spoke to the Court against the combining of the dispatches, which went into effective Monday morning at 7 a.m.

“He is against it 100 percent and we had a spirited discussion with him over the City of Pampa taking over the County operations,” Porter said.

More than 24 hours into the new dispatch system, Porter said it had been “pretty flawless.”

“I’m pretty happy with how this transitioned,” Porter said. “We made that transition Monday at 7 a.m. and we’re rockin n’ rollin. I listened to the radio yesterday and it’s been a seamless transition. Kudos to the City of Pampa and Gray County Sheriff’s Office.”

The commissioners also approved the following items:

• Pay bills as approved by the County Auditor.

• Treasurer’s Report.

• County Clerks Report.

• Bid for Tax Property.

• Extending County Disaster Declaration. This item just brings the County in line with Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order.

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