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Commissioners approve take over of road maintenance in Goforth Village area.

Residents in Goforth Village will finally have someone responsible for maintaining their roads.

In today’s meeting of the Hays County Commissioners Court approved a motion, put forth by Precinct 2 commissioner Jeff Barton, to have the county take over maintenance of the 1.8 miles of roads in the Goforth Village area, which lie northeast of Kyle in an unincorporated area of the county. There are 214 plots of land in Goforth. School buses and 18-wheelers use the roads frequently.

Photos showing stop signs that were completely faded, vandalized or fallen over, and potholes up to a foot deep, were shown to the court by Commissioner Barton. Trish Jones, a Goforth Village resident told the court that a petition of over 60 signatures had been collected to ask the county to assume maintenance of the roads, some of which were so bad, residents were forced to undertake repairs at their own expense and labor.

“We started this process I’d say roughly ten years ago,” said Goforth resident Marcella Ellensohn. She went on to describe how she had to personally go out, clean, and fill cracks and potholes in the road in front of her house.

“I’m lucky that I don’t have a school bus that goes down my street. My kids have to go to the end of the road to meet it,” said Ellensohn.

Jones and Ellensohn both attested they had seen many near vehicle collisions because of cars swerving to miss the potholes, some of which are up to a foot deep, in the area.

Upgrades to safe conditions are expected to cost $155,000, which includes equipment and labor. The county was unable to assume control and maintenance because the original developer in 1987 never submitted the needed paperwork to transfer control. In the meantime, nobody has had any formal responsibility for road maintenance as Goforth Village is without a homeowners association. The county is expected to act within 30 days to begin fixing these roads.

“The county was not as vigilant as it is now,” said Barton, referring to the situation with the original developer.

Residents were satisfied that their long term goals have finally been met and expressed thanks to Commissioner Barton and his office.

Additionally, the Village of Wimberley brought to the court plans for the county to purchase the First Baptist Church facility in order to turn it into “one stop shopping” for city, county, state and possibly federal services. Currently city, county and state services are spread out all over Wimberley.

“We all have growing pains,” said Will Conley, precinct 3 commissioner referring to Wimberley., “so we put together a committee that met once a month on the issue.”

“We’re presenting a vision today,” said Don Ferguson, Administrator for the Village of Wimberley, who brought the proposal before the court. The acquisition of the facility by the county is expected to cost 2.4 million dollars with an additional $600,000 to a million dollars for additional renovations as needed.

“I think we have to recognize the fact that our government is literally spread all over western Hays County and not just in the Wimberley area,” said Ferguson. “Our thought process is if we can find a location where we can bring all the various government services together…the citizen benefits from that, the government benefits from that, and ultimately you’ll see better services provided to people.”

The county would possibly pay for the facility and improvements, while Wimberley would make a monthly payment to the county until the debt is satisfied . Both Wimberley and the county would ultimately assuming joint ownership. Ferguson cited the expense to the taxpayer of leasing space as a major factor in favor of buying and renovating the existing location.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe asked if there were funds available for Wimberley to make the purchase themselves. Ferguson reminded the court that their resources were limited.

County Judge Elisabeth Sumter, while expressing general approval for the idea of the project, asked if the county wanted to be in a position to fund the entire project up front. Further discussion was deferred until all public comments were received, and the court took no action today. Public hearings were held on June 7th and a second public comment will be held at First Baptist Church at 7 PM tonight. Following this public input, the Commissioners Court and Wimberley will decide whether or not to proceed. Anderson confirmed that some oral commitments have been made by various governmental entities to move into the proposed facility, but negotiations are ongoing.

The First Baptist Church will be relocating into a new location in March of 2009.

The court met in executive session over the ongoing matter of Texas Heritage Kitchens and the county, but no formal decisions or actions were made at this time. Litigation between Texas Heritage Kitchen and Hays County is still ongoing.

Love was also felt in the Hays County Commissioners Court this morning as the Unconditional Love Tour stopped by to receive a proclamation and dispense free hugs to those that might need them.

Sumter, along with the other members of the court, presented a proclamation to the members of the tour, many of which were from various countries in Europe. The tour proceeded to give free hugs on the courthouse lawn before moving on to Sewell Park.