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Commissioner districts modified

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The boundaries of the Comanche County commissioners’ districts have been shaken up slightly as a result of the 2010 census.

The commissioners approved the changes at a regular meeting Monday morning. Central District Commissioner Ron Kirby and Western District Commissioner Don Hawthorne had competing redistricting plans, both of which had been approved by the state.    State law requires county commissioners to redraw district boundaries in accordance with census results to keep the districts more or less equal in population, along clearly defined, visible boundaries.

Courtesy Lawton ConstitutionBoth of the competing plans had the Eastern District — represented by Gail Turner — boundary drawn with a population of 40,838 people.

At issue between the plans was a small section of the county near Fort Sill — west of Interstate 44 north to the Medicine Park and Meers area. Both Kirby and Hawthorne’s plans claimed the disputed section of the county for their respective districts.

Both plans moved the county courthouse into the Central District, which all three commissioners said makes sense because the Central District Commissioner is responsible for managing the courthouse. The courthouse was previously in the Eastern District.

The two opposing commissioners were cordial with one another as they presented the plans to Turner for the tie-breaking vote.

Turner chose Hawthorne’s plan, based on his understanding of the commissioners’ instructions on how to redraw the districts from the state. He said Hawthorne’s plan did a better job of drawing a clear boundary that did not split a community into more than one district, in his opinion.

Hawthorne’s plan split the county population among districts as follows:

  • Eastern District — 40,838
  • Central District — 40,570
  • Western District — 42,690.
The previous numbers, based on the 2000 census were:
  • Eastern District — 39,428
  • Central District — 37,752
  • Western District — 37,816.

The new district boundaries passed on a vote of 2-1, with Kirby and Hawthorne each voting for their own plans.

In other business, the commissioners took the first step toward designating the Flower Mound Volunteer Fire Department as an official county fire department by setting a public hearing for 9 a.m., Aug. 29. After the public hearing, the commissioners will have the option of recognizing the Flower Mound VFD.

Kirby said everyone was under the impression the volunteer firefighters had already been designated as a county fire department. In fact, it has been treated as one for many years and has received county funds like every other designated volunteer fire department. Kirby said it was likely the fire department was recognized at some point in the county’s history, but no records could be located.

He said the Flower Mound department has been active for 25 years, has nine trucks and has been instrumental in fighting numerous fires over the years.

Josh Sullivan, chief of the Flower Mound Volunteer Fire Department, said the problem was discovered about a year ago,when it was learned the department had to be properly designated in order for members to participate in the state retirement system for volunteer firefighters. The department has been going through the process of becoing designated as a county fire department ever since.

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