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By Dakota McDonald
County Judge Lee Norman addressed public concern regarding unenforced face mask mandates at the recent commissioners’ court meeting.
In public comment, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charles Morris informed the court that he had recently received calls from constituents concerning local officials’ lack of enforcement regarding the wearing of face masks in public settings.
Clerk Jim Plummer and Extension Agent Danya Peterson expressed that they had also received similar concerns from the public.
Norman assured the court that both himself and Mayor Marvin Self have actively encouraged the public to follow proper CDC safety guidelines, stating that it was now up to the community and local business owners to enforce the use of masks.
Norman additionally stated that he believed aggressive policing of face mask mandates would not be effective.
According to Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order 29, which has not yet been superseded by following executive orders 30 through 32, not wearing a mask is a fineable offense of up to $250. In GA-29, local law enforcement and city officials are responsible for enforcement of the statewide mask order.
Norman stated that he and Self looking into issuing a future joint proclamation due to the rise of Covid-19 cases.
The commissioners also canvassed votes for the past election. In the tabulator and written results, two mistakes were found with the discrepancy of a single vote.
Plummer informed the court that ballots are still being counted due to the number of provisional ballots submitted. Out of 12 provisional ballots, which allow voters whose name does not appear on the list of registered voters due to an administrative error to vote, two were approved.
The commissioners also approved an interlocal agreement in which the county partnered the Regional Public Defender Office Local Government Corporation to provide qualified, court-appointed legal defense teams to represent indigent capital murder defendants in the local jurisdiction.
Currently, 184 eligible counties participate in the program with offices in Lubbock, Wichita Falls, Terrell, Angleton, Austin and San Antonio. Through the agreement, the county is to save a considerable amount of money in the 2020-21 fiscal year, according to Norman. The program cost to the county is $1,186.
In county reports, Garza County Historical Museum Director Linda Puckett presented the annual report. Puckett informed the court that she has recently been providing gloves and masks to every visitor and shutting down when she felt needed. She also thanked the court for repairing damages to the building and reported that a new military room has been opened to the public.
The next regular meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m., Dec. 14.