Working together for the common good

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Robertson County and City of Hearne officials share a common desire to create jobs and develop greater opportunities for county residents to work near their homes. In addition, these entities routinely explore opportunities to pool governmental resources to reduce expenses and promote the common good.

The city and county have long collaborated on trying to get and keep quality health care (Rob Co EMS, St. Joseph Express, and BVCAA) available to local residents. The county has gotten two water grants to help the city better serve rural customers south of town.

These same entities have discussed centralizing “911” dispatch service and remedying pervasive problems at Hearne’s jail. Rather than both the city and county having jails and dispatches, it makes sense to explore ways to reduce duplication costs. For example, if Hearne builds a new police station, a simple holding cell would be less costly than a new city jail. If the city’s “911” system were consolidated into Robertson County’s, a smaller Hearne police station could be built.

As the county’s only general aviation airport, the county and city helped pay the local match for a new fuel farm so local businesses, residents, and visitors could be better served by air. After DPS officials initially met with her about opening a Hearne regional commercial drivers’ license office serving eight counties, Robertson County Judge Jan Roe, Hearne Mayor Ruben Gomez, and other Hearne officials started collaborating on this joint project. The county may assist with improving a road needed for the new DPS facility. Discussions are also progressing on reopening Hearne’s drivers’ license and license plate offices to better serve city and county residents.

Have you noticed the new pavement around the ECMD (old Lifetime Doors) facility? The county helped pave a right of way so ECMD’s trucks can better enter and exit the facility. Limited use county hotel/motel taxes might even be used to help encourage overnight guests to utilize Hearne’s new Downtown Meetings & Events Centre.

Economic development efforts are reciprocal. If the county is alerted to a Hearne project, the city is contacted. If Hearne officials cannot accommodate an economic prospect that is looking for a specific type of property, calls go out to county officials to find suitable properties. Sometimes county officials are willing to consider possible tax abatements in an attempt to bring new jobs into the county.

“Team Hearne” includes city council members Mayor Ruben Gomez, Maxine Vaughn, Matt Gomez, Marc Catalina, Larry Welch, and Mike Werlinger, Hearne City Manager Pee Wee Drake, Hearne Economic Development Director Kent Brunette, Hearne’s 4A Sales Tax Board (Tracy Varvel, Melvin Arbor, Cathy Lazarus, Ruben Gomez, Angel Ramirez, and Joyce Richardson), Hearne’s 4B Sales Tax Board (Bart Lockhart, Ruben Gomez, Maxine Vaughn, James Crawford, Norris McDaniel, Andrew Seymore, and Michael Werlinger), Robertson County Commissioners Donald Threadgill, Keith Petitt, Robert Bielamowicz, Keith Nickelson, and Judge Jan Roe.

Hearne also keeps lines of communication wide open with state and federal officials. Representative Kyle Kacal attended last year’s airport celebration and nursing home groundbreaking. Often seen around the county, Kacal sponsored legislation of interest to Hearne and stands ready to help address Hearne’s state-level needs. Congressman Bill Flores’ regional staffer, James Edge, also spends a lot of time in Robertson County. Both offices routinely solicit Hearne’s input on matters affecting the city.

While the extent of these solid working relationships may not be obvious to the casual observer, there is a great deal of interaction with and cooperation among various players who are routinely working together for Hearne and Robertson County residents, businesses, and visitors.

Kent Brunette | Robertson County News

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