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Commissioners recognize trooper

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Diana Buckley
Ellis County Communications
WAXAHACHIE - A proclamation approved in commissioners' court on April 9 was just one of the honors afforded Department of Public Safety Trooper Rick Smith for his exceptional valor during a shootout on Aug. 20 in Midlothian.

'Trooper Rick Smith has received the 2006 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award from the National Rifle Association,' said County Judge Chad Adams, who introduced the proclamation.

'It's quite a privilege to have you here and to have Ellis County recognized - there are 3,000 counties in the nation.'

Smith was quick to share credit with his coworkers, specifically Tro-oper Bill Werkmeister.

'On Aug. 20 in Midlothian, they had three officers shot. Five from the Highway Patrol responded,' Smith said.

'We extracted the wounded police officers, and I ended up receiving a gunshot wound to the head. Three of my coworkers pulled me out.'

Smith said the NRA 'got wind of it' and asked its board to name Smith as the annual award recipient.

In addition to the NRA award, Smith also received the Texas Department of Public Safety Commis-sioner's Medal of Valor, the DPS Purple Heart, the Midlothian Police Depar-tment's Medal of Valor, and the Midlothian Police Department Purple Heart.

'Trooper Werkmeister received the Department's Medal of Valor as well,' Smith said.

Meeting attendees and members of the court gave Smith a standing ovation after the reading of the proclamation.

Smith has devoted almost 30 years to law enforcement and has been with DPS since 2001.

Commissioners also approved several items related to the May 12 Amendment and Bond election, including a list of Presiding and Alternate Judges, a request to hire 86 elections clerks, and two joint election contracts.

A proposal by Commissioner Heath Sims, pct. 3, to appoint a Citizens Oversight Committee to assist in the oversight of the construction of facilities, contingent upon the passage of the $53.875 million bond on May 12, was amended by the court.

'I don't disagree with you, but would you be willing to do this in next commissioners' court, with Staubach here?' asked Commissioner Ron Bro-wn, pct 4, after Sims introduced the measure.

'I would like to see some guidelines as far as what the oversight committee would be - some rules for them,' added Commissioner Bill Dodson, pct. 2.

Sims amended his motion to require the guidelines to be put in place before the committee could be appointed.

'It would be good to know your intentions as to the guidelines before I agree or disagree,' said Commissioner Dennis Robinson, pct. 1.

'It might be nice to get some of those things in writing,' said Adams.

'I make a motion to appoint Commissioner Sims, (County Engineer) Joe White, and the Stau-bach Group to put together a list of responsibilities for the oversight committee and bring it back to Commissioners' Court,' said Dodson.

Someone from the county attorney's office will be included in the work group as well.

Dodson's amendment was approved by the court.

In other business, commissioners:

• Approved a contract allowing the Sheriff's Department to provide law enforcement services at Lake Bardwell;

• Authorized the Sheriff's Department to obtain regular license plates for unmarked vehicles;

• Accepted the resignation of Vicki Cearnal from Palmer ESD #9 effective March 31, 2007 and appointed Marvin Rhoades to serve in her place, effective immediately;

• Discussed a potential response to the TCEQ report on Priority Groundwater Management Areas and Groundwater Conservation Districts, with no action taken;

• Discussed the condition of county roads and bridges following recent rain storms, with no action taken;

• Awarded bids for nine Panasonic Toughbook PC's, steel beams, washed pea gravel and limestone flex base under the Purchasing Department;

• Approved two rep-lats, one preliminary plat and a variance relating to road frontage under the Department of Development.

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