05 24 2015

Public Hearing On New ESD Delayed

By Terry Britt
Staff Writer
A public hearing on the proposed Van Zandt County Emergency Services District No. 3 on Thursday had to be postponed by about four hours due to lack of a quorum of the county commissioners’ court.
After a delay of about 15 minutes from the posted 9 a.m. start time, Van Zandt County Judge Rhita Koches and Precinct 3 Commissioner Bobby Chaney entered the county courtroom.
Koches explained the need for the start time postponement as being due to “two medical emergencies and one travel issue” among the other three commissioners, but did not give specifics.
She then stated that the special meeting of the court would not begin until later that day at 1 p.m.
“We cannot hold the public hearing at this time, because we cannot convene the special meeting of the commissioners’ court without a quorum,” she said to an audience of about 15 people, including several member of the South Van Zandt Volunteer Fire Department.
The proposed new Emergency Services District (ESD) would include the territory currently being served by South Van Zandt VFD. Negotiations have begun with the city of Canton to possibly include Canton’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) in the new district, if it is approved by voters in May.
South Van Zandt VFD Chief Kyle Harris said he was not discouraged by the delay in holding the public hearing.
“Things like this happen and we understand that. I’m not concerned because as of 9 a.m., there were no opponents to the ESD signed up to speak,” he said.
A sign-in sheet in the courtroom showed five people present who wanted to speak in favor of the proposed ESD.
The fire department, which covers a large land area in the south central part of Van Zandt County, has grown to 45 members SVZVFD President Tim Meredith said.
That is about a 29 percent increase in membership in the past five years. In 2010, the department took over fire coverage of an unincorporated area surrounding Canton and subsequently opened a new department substation in Canton on State Highway 64.

Photo by Terry Britt
Van Zandt County Clerk Charlotte Bledsoe, left, confers with South Van Zandt Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kyle Harris about the boundary map for the proposed Van Zandt County Emergency Services District No. 3. A public hearing scheduled for Thursday morning was delayed until that afternoon due to the lack of a quorum of the county commissioners’ court.

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