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Commissioners' court provides direction for generosity

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ELLIS COUNTY-  Ricardo Hernandez of Ennis was the picture of both generosity and humility on the evening of Monday, Oct. 25 when he approached the commissioners’ court with an unusual request:  he wanted to donate some money to the county in order to help others. 

Hernandez spoke in Spanish, with his daughter translating.

"I am very impressed by your father’s gesture, his desire to give back to a community that is obviously important to your family," said County Judge Carol Bush. "But we want him to have the opportunity to sit down and see that there are lots of organizations with needs, to know that he can say exactly where the money should go – and we can provide you with a list of the organizations."

Bush said after Hernandez has learned about the numerous charitable organizations in the county, he is welcome to return to the court if he still desires to donate his money to the county.

Speaking then in Spanish, Bush thanked Hernandez directly for his generosity and promised to send him a list of charitable organizations.  Several were suggested verbally by those in attendance at the meeting:  Hope Clinic, Greater Ennis United Way, United Way of West Ellis County, Meals on Wheels and others.

No action was taken on the agenda item relating to Hernandez’ request.

The court took no action on several other items during the meeting as well, including the question of whether to waive, issue, or reallocate the county’s portion of the Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds and the Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

According to County Auditor Mike Navarro, a letter from the Texas Bond Review Board was received on Monday, Oct. 18 setting the deadline of Friday, Oct. 29 for the county’s response.

"The court needs to decide whether it intends to issue the bonds, let another political subdivision within the county use the funds, or let the State decide," said Navarro , noting 45 percent of the interest owed on the low-interest bonds would be paid by the Federal government. 

"It’s a cheap way to get some projects done.  You must issue the bonds by December 31, 2010."

Ennis City Manager Steve Howerton, having discussed the court’s agenda with Commissioner Bill Dodson, pct. 2, had also contacted Navarro and Bush with regard to a project that would be enhanced by the ability to issue such low cost debt; but members of the court wanted to make sure they allowed other municipalities the same opportunity.

"I think they all have plans," said Commissioner Dennis Robinson, pct. 1. 

"Even Palmer, as small as they are, they’ve got plans for improvements."

Consequently, the court took no action on the agenda item, choosing instead to set a special meeting for Friday, Oct. 29, at 9 a.m. and to contact each municipality within the county to give them the opportunity to request a portion of the reallocation.

Any municipality interested in issuing the bonds would still have to apply to the BRB for the amounts designated by the Court to be reallocated.  The application must be made on Friday, and must include the following:

· Request for Recovery Zone Bonding Authority;

· Evidence of the Recovery Zone designation;

· A letter from legal counsel indicating that the bonds will qualify as Recovery Zone Bonds.

If approved, the municipalities must issue the debt by December 31, 2010.

A third item on which the court took no action was a request to license a salvage yard at 2585 S. Highway 77 in Waxahachie.

"My constituents have been here before on a similar issue, and we had a room full last time," said Dodson.

"Before I approve one, I’d have to go back to the people and talk to them, and get their opinions."

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