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Gregg County approves natural disaster response plan

By Glenn Evans
July 8, 2013 at 10 p.m.

A federally required plan showing how Gregg County will prepare for and respond to natural disasters passed another hurdle Monday with the blessing of the commissioners court.

The five-year update to the county's Hazard Mitigation Action Plan has been in the works since 2010, Emergency Management Coordinator Ronny Griffith said. The plan has gone back and forth between officials here and the Texas Division of Emergency Management and now must earn Federal Emergency Management Agency approval.

"Every city (in Gregg County) will have to adopt it," Griffith added. "It's really about natural disasters, and what you would do to reduce risk and to try to reduce damage."

In other action Monday, the court approved the purchase of $14,200 worth of bunker gear for the first-responder force at East Texas Regional Airport.

Sheriff Maxey Cerliano had added the amount to this year's budget, enough for 10 sets of pants and jackets. The gear is similar to what municipal firefighters wear, Cerliano said.

The crew at the airport is assigned to respond to crashes, law enforcement matters or disasters.

Also Monday, County Judge Bill Stoudt postponed an initial budget workshop for the 2013-14 county spending plan. Stoudt said the session was to focus on health insurance costs, which in large respect are a starting point as the court begins looking at spending needs for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

That cost is expected to climb at least $1 million as national health care reform kicks in, Stoudt said. However, the insurance agent who was to meet with commissioners was not able to attend Monday's work session.

Another budget workshop is set for this coming Monday, immediately after the 9 a.m. regular meeting.

Finally, a leader of the local Organizing for America chapter told commissions, during open the comment period, of a public forum on immigration reform at 6:30 p.m. today.

The forum, at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church on McCann Road just north of H.G. Mosely Parkway, occurs as the U.S. House of Representatives takes up an immigration overhaul the Senate passed two weeks ago.

"This is an opportunity for the public at large to hear more about the immigration reform that's being considered," Vik Verma told commissioners.

Organizing for America is a national group which formed to support President Barack Obama's agenda.



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