ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - County commissioner's court meetings cover a variety of things that affect residents living in the area. The public is usually invited to voice opinions or concerns to the commissioners.
However, the Angelina County Commissioner's Court voted to do away with the public forum portion of its meetings at Tuesday's meeting.
"Individuals from the county let the commissioner's court know about things that are coming up in the county. I'm active in the airport and at the Noon Lion's Club," said Don Lymbery, an Angelina County resident.
"I think it's beneficial in a lot of ways," said Angelina County Judge Wes Suiter.
Tuesday morning, those public voices were muted with a 4 to 1 vote. Commissioners at Angelina County court said the public forum was turning into something other than what it was meant for.
"Public forum allows us to let the commissioner's court know of these things before they happen and invite them," Lymbery said.
"It got to be where it wasn't information or an item of interest to the court that we needed to add to a future agenda," Suiter said.
For the last time, people in attendance took the stand to say that they wished the decision to take public forum off the agenda had not been made.
"To do away with the public forum takes away the opportunity to talk to our commissioners directly," Lymbery said.
Suiter said he agreed that the forum is beneficial, but only if used correctly.
"It was more of an attack or a grievance against a member of the court or another elected official," Suiter said.
Lymbery said he understood, but, "to take it away from everybody, I think is a tragic mistake."
"They claim all we have to do is get put on the agenda. They won't put you on because I tried to get this same thing on before," said David Stua, an Angelina County resident.
Also on the agenda, commissioners agreed to charge people making public records records requests if they require over 36 hours to complete.
"I'll just keep doing what I'm doing, and I might be a little more diligent at it now," Stua said.
Though the vote didn't go as some would have hoped, Suiter said if residents ever have concerns from this point forward, they can still let them be known.
"Give us a call. Contact your local commissioner. If you have something that needs to be brought to our attention, we're here five days a week," Suiter said.
The Angelina County commissioners also learned technology upgrades could be coming to the Angelina County Sheriff's Office soon. It's all in an effort to make the deputies safer while on duty.
The County Commissioner's approved a 30-day trial of COPsync, a computer system for law enforcement patrol cars. COPsync has essential things for policing like GPS, access to other law enforcement agencies, and ability to run history check and other vital systems the deputies need.
If the system is purchased, the COPsync program would be based out of Moore County, the Texas panhandle.
"An active city is a competitive city" is a mindset the Angelina County Commissioners supported. The commissioners endorsed the "Angelina Active Living Plan."
The county was already recognized by the state of Texas with a bronze plaque for its strides in improving the quality of health here in Angelina County.
Now, the 'County and City's Health District' is going for the gold. The movement is said to have economic, safety, AND health benefits.
"We know that if we have policies and environmental changes, as far as providing multi-use walking trails that can be used to bike and walk, that people will be more physically active," said Paula Botsford, Angelina County's public health educator.
Botsford said to get moving, start by getting your heart rate up for 30 minutes a day. Kiwanis and Old Orchard Park are just a couple of Angelina County's trails to get fit on.