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The Long Road to T. Don Hutto

Oped by Commissioner Cook

  • 25 June 2018
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 5036

A long line of protestors--some carrying signs--march around the Historic Courthouse on Tuesday, June 26, petitioning the Court to end the contract with T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor. Long before Tuesday’s vote of 4-1 in Commissioners Court to end the Taylor-based T. Don Hutto Residential Center contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and CoreCivic, Inc. (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), much has been written in newspapers and more disseminated through social media concerning this facility.

Why do we have it in Williamson County? Well its history is a circuitous, disjointed story.

Jose Orta, past president of the League of United Latin American Citizens Council in Taylor and an advocate for immigrants, said, “This facility sits on land (Welch St.) originally owned cooperatively by Mexican workers before the 1950s. Denied a place in town to park their trucks during cotton season, the workers pooled their wages to purchase the land, which also became a place to congregate and hold fiestas. Part of this land became Hidalgo Park.”

Between the 1980s and 1990s, Orta said the workers were unable to pay the property taxes and donated the land to the local Catholic Church, St John Vianney, with the understanding that the land would be parish property. Orta explained that the Archdiocese actually owned the land, and in 1995, sold part of it for revenue to CoreCivic, a private prison company.

County records show that in 1995, CoreCivic sold the land to a new subsidiary, Taylor Detention Center Corporation, to build a private minimum-security prison. CoreCivic bought back the prison the following year at the end of July. 

In July 1997, the prison became the T. Don Hutto Correctional Facility, named after one of the company’s founders. According to Orta, in March 2004, CoreCivic announced it was closing TDH, citing low inmate demand in the region. This was one of several times TDH would be “mothballed” as CoreCivic sought prisoners to house.

Protect Property Taxpayers

Billions in higher property taxes are hurting Texans. You DESERVE to know why.

  • 15 June 2018
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 5200

It's no secret that Texas relies on property taxpayers as their source of funding for more and more each year...

Texas Association of Counties

When the state does not fund its mandates, property taxpayers are stuck with the bill.

Did you know?

Property taxpayer protections can be put in the Texas Constitution.

A proposed amendment, HJR 73 by Rep. DeWayne Burns, passed the House on a vote of 127-18. Despite overwhelming bipartisan support, it stalled in the state Senate, never getting a hearing.

Similar measures already protect taxpayers in many other states.

If the Legislature acts, voters will get the chance to stop the Legislature's practice of passing costs on to homeowners.

If the Legislature believes something is important, shouldn't they pay for it? Homeowners shouldn't be treated like the state's no-limit credit card.

We can have a responsible, pay-as-you-go state government. Ask the Texas Legislature to give voters a voice in ending unfunded mandates!

Unfunded Mandates:

  • Drive up your property tax bill.
  • Drive up the size and cost of county government.
  • Remove accountability from government spending.
  • Cost Texans billions of dollars.
  • Force property tax increases that strain YOUR budget.

Take action below to protect property taxpayers:


Commissioner Cook Views Preparation of New Section of Williamson County Landfill

Work was performed to open another section of the landfill before accepting refuse

  • 11 June 2018
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 4367

Crews work quickly using an excavator to clear out more dirt from the base of the new landfill section and place the dirt onto a large yellow dump truck.Recently, Commissioner Cook visited the Williamson County Landfill  in Hutto as they were preparing a new section to receive refuse. Landfills are regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and these landfills must meet their many requirements and reviews. Did you know there are many layers that go into building these things? Their construction involves more than just digging a hole and putting trash on top of the ground. Care must be taken to release safely the methane gas that is generated by the piling up of trash and making sure that our groundwater does not become polluted from the rain runoff.

Landfills are fairly site specific, in that they are almost always located in areas that have a thick layer of clay soils, because clay is impervious to water seeping through to our groundwater. But, landfills don’t only rely on clay to keep out pollutants. The Wilco Landfill uses sail construction. 

The base of a landfill is built in such a way that moisture is collected in the middle and then removed using pumps. The clay is covered up by large, heavy-duty plastic sheeting, as a secondary buffer. The seams between sheets are bonded with heat. On top of the plastic sheeting is a thick permeable layer of cloth-like material to protect the sheeting underneath, because there cannot be any punctures to protect the groundwater. The edges of this material are actually sewn together with a handheld, industrial-strength sewing machine. A thick layer of dirt is then laid over to complete the base of the landfill.

The crews putting this together were working quickly because a storm was scheduled to come through the area in a day or two. If water had gotten under the plastic sheeting, the whole job would be ripped up and started over. A $1M job. They got it done in time, thankfully.

Commissioner Cook Asks for Volunteers for Pavilion Clubhouse in Round Rock

Pavilion Changes Lives of People with Mental Illness and/or Substance Abuse

  • 7 June 2018
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 6635

Logo of Pavilion clubhouse includes the words Pavilion and Round Rock.Commissioner Cook is actively supporting Pavilion Clubhouse in Round Rock. This organization is only eight months old. Pavilion is a place where people living with mental illness and/or substance abuse can work together and participate in their own recovery. The Clubhouse needs a little bit of time for their sustainability plan to take effect like any startup business. They have some grant proposals, such as one with the city of Round Rock, but those take a little time to get here.  Can you help right now with a little bit of your time? If so, please click on READ MORE for the information on volunteering at the Dell Diamond. You will also see a link to sign up. 

If you can help financially in this moment of need, please go to http://pavilionrr.org/support-us-donate to donate online or mail a check to: Pavilion, 4010 Sam Bass Road, Round Rock, Texas 78681. It doesn’t matter if it’s $20 or $200.

Williamson County Historical Commission Has Openings

Please see information and application links below

  • 29 May 2018
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 4624

 I want to encourage our Precinct 1 constituents to apply for consideration to serve on the Williamson County Historical Commission. The WCHC is dedicated to the preservation of the history of the county. For more information on what this organization does, please visit http://www.williamson-county-historical-commission.org/

The County will be accepting applications for membership in the WCHC until the positions are filled. Members are appointed by the Williamson County Commissioners Court and serve for two-year terms. The Commissioners Court also appoints people to fill expired positions. 

Individuals wishing to serve on the WCHC should fill out an application and submit it to their Williamson County precinct commissioner or the county judge. Voting members must be 18 years of age or older. Applications and a copy of the WCHC bylaws are available on this website at http://www.wilco.org under Commissioners Court under Historical Commission Applications or at this link http://www.wilco.org/Portals/0/Departments/CommCourt/Appointment%20Form.pdf?ver=2017-05-15-105138-293.

Below is my contact information for Precinct 1 constituents:

Precinct 1 Commissioner Terry Cook

1801 E. Old Settlers Blvd.

Round Rock, TX 78664




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