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Home News-Telegram News $16M jail bond issue passes in ‘light’ returns; State voters approve all 9 amendments

$16M jail bond issue passes in ‘light’ returns; State voters approve all 9 amendments

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Hopkins County will have a new jail sometime in the near future as voters on Tuesday approved a $16 million bond issue for its construction.

The county electorate passed the bond issue by a vote of 1,256 for (54 percent) and 1,070 opposed (46 percent).

Passage of the proposition was decided by early voters, who cast 492 ballots in favor (62.7 percent) and 292 against. On Election Day, voters actually were against the bond issue by a 778-764 count, but overall it passed in what was termed “light returns,” by the county clerk’s office.

The bond issue will mean an increase of about 7 cents per $100 property evaluation starting next year. It will pay for a new jail and correctional facility to house the sheriff’s office. The new structure will be built near the current jail, a block east of downtown.

Cumby voters decided on three school trustees, as Jason Hudson (144 votes), Tony Aguilar (114) and Jody Jarvis (105) were elected out of a six-candidate slate. Dawn Gray received 81 votes, Joe Salinas 47 and Carol Rose Allen 43.

Voters in the city of Cumby also elected four new aldermen to the city council. Douglas Simmerman (Place 1) and David Petty (Place 5) ran uncontested races. Cody Talley won the Place 3 seatover Monty Lacky by a 59-35 count, while Jackie Holley beat Bill Jenkins for Place 4 by a 76-20 total.

County voters also cast their ballots for nine constitutional amendments, all of which passed in Hopkins County and on a state-wide basis.

In Tuesday's most-watched decision, voters statewide approved $2 billion to finance ambitious drought-fighting initiatives meant to help ensure Texas can meet the needs of its booming population and growing economy for the next 50 years. But those in Houston refused to authorize $217 million in bonds to convert the long-shuttered Astrodome into a convention center — likely dooming the iconic venue to the wrecking the ball.

And, in the well-to-do Houston suburb of Katy, voters rejected a bond package that would have provided $69.5 million for a new, 14,000-seat high school football stadium. The failed measure went on the ballot one year after the Dallas suburb of Allen opened a $60 million high school stadium.

The election was the first in Texas under a new law requiring voters to show one of seven forms of picture ID, such as a driver's license or passport, at the polls. The measure was passed in 2011 but had been delayed by a series of court challenges.

Only about 1 million out of 13.4 million of the state's registered voters participated, but that, coupled with stronger-than-expected early voting turnout, was enough for key Republican officials to say concerns that the voter ID rule could cause voting headaches were overblown.

Democrats and civil rights groups have again sued to block the law, but the case is still pending. 

Voters overwhelmingly approved all nine proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution, including the water measure, an expansion of reverse mortgages, and tax credits for disabled veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans killed in the line of duty.

Tuesday's water referendum attracted the most visibility and campaign funds, drawing support from business and environmental groups alike. It moves $2 billion from Texas' rainy day fund cash reserves to its water infrastructure fund to help defray the borrowing costs on large-scale water infrastructure projects, including creating reservoirs, laying new pipelines and replacing older ones.

Some conservatives opposed using the state's savings account to finance large-scale construction projects while others were concerned the money could be misused.

Still, the results were far from a surprise since Gov. Rick Perry and most of the state's top Democrats and Republicans cheered the referendum — citing the ongoing effects of a punishing drought in much of the state.

Passing a proposed constitutional amendment that had to be approved by voters allowed the GOP-controlled Legislature to increase funding for major future water projects without raising taxes.

Straus said he expects the state comptroller to transfer the funds as soon as possible. Environmentalists also praised the result.




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