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Night court is considered by commissioners

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The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE - Holding meetings at night has divided the Ellis County Commissioner's Court, but it's something citizens have wanted.

Currently, commissioners meet the first and third Mondays of each month at 10 a.m. inside the county courthouse, but residents have pushed to get meetings held at night.

But according to county attorney Lee Veness, meeting dates cannot be changed in the middle of the year. The old commissioner's court set the current agenda calendar, he said.

'Personally, I'm aga-inst it [night court],' said Commissioner Jackie Miller, who represents precinct 3. 'But a state law passed in the last legislature gives the county authority to hold meetings in different parts of the county. Denton County does it. To me, that's bringing the government to the people.'

There was a time when commissioner's court meetings were held at night, but attendance was down at those meetings.

'The people I've talked with said attendance at night [meetings] would be higher on ‘hot-button' issues,' said precinct 1 commissioner Hallie Joe Robinson.

Robinson said because of his close family ties, he would like to keep meetings at the regular time.

'When you [commissioners] were running for office, you were out at ungodly hours,' said Bristol resident Roy Callender. 'We walked the streets, put up signs, and kept us out at ungodly hours. And we missed TV and sports [to do it].'

Residents, Robinson added, would probably be busy watching television and attending sporting events, thereby limiting their time to attend meetings.

'I don't mind trying it again,' said Ron Brown, who represents precinct 4. 'I'm not sure about the attendance at night, but let's see how it does.'

Brown suggested commissioners hold an informative workshop on a Thursday evening for residents to come and voice their opinions on the proposed night court

Precinct 2 commissioner Larry Jones said he is in favor of trying out the night meetings as well.

One of Ellis County Judge Chad Adams' campaign promises was to seek a better way to inform the public.

Night court and town hall meetings, he said, are what the people told him they wanted.

'I'm an advocate for night meetings,' Adams said at last week's Taxpayers Alliance for Good Government meeting.

'I'm proud of all of you, proud to be a resident of Ellis County,' said Callender. 'I've not always been proud. I've been to meetings when two armed guards were standing out front with 150 people trying to get in. That was with the old court. This is a new court. If you have this [night] meeting, the ones who really want to get involved won't have to sacrifice money to do it. I spent half my life not getting involved.'

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