New Brown County Judge Paul Lilly presided over his first commissioners court meeting Monday morning, a smooth running event in which commissioners approved — albeit with split votes in some cases — Lilly’s personnel requests.

Commissioners approved the hiring of:

• David Creed, a retired police chief and arson investigator, as emergency management coordinator at an annual salary of $32,000. The salary, which is in the existing budget, is $6,000 a year higher than the starting salary that commissioners approved earlier. Lilly said Creed’s extensive experience and the expanded job duties he’ll have will justify his higher salary, which, Lilly said, won’t cost taxpayers any more money. 

• Amy Briley as court coordinator at the base pay for the position, which Lilly said is about $27,000 a year. 

• Bob Contreras as part-time grants coordinator on a trial basis for the remainder of the fiscal year at an annual salary of $15,000. It is a new position and the money is already in the current budget, Lilly told commissioners. Commissioners agreed to see if the position pans out over the rest of the year.

Lilly also announced that representatives of Plains All American Pipeline, whose West Texas-to-Houston pipeline crosses through northern Brown County, told him the company plans to build a second pipeline through the northern part of the county.

The company will make $1 million available for grants to public safety agencies that are within 30 miles of the pipeline, Lilly told commissioners.

 

‘We’re here to represent the governed’

Lilly began Monday’s meeting with some welcoming remarks, telling commissioners he views his role of county judge as supporting “each of you and to get you want you need, to help you be able to do your job.

“The citizens of Brown County obviously voted to make a change, and I understand that I’m the first new person to sit in this chair in right around a quarter of a century. I’m very appreciative, very respectful of that. Anybody in government service is here to serve he governed. We’re not here to represent the government. We’re here to represent the governed.”

 

Personnel and salary matters

After commissioners approved personnel changes for the sheriff’s office, Lilly presented his hiring requests.

Commissioners quickly approved the hiring of Briley as court coordinator, who won’t start until she works out her notice at her current job. Briley replaces Jayme St. Alma, who had the job under previous County Judge Ray West.

Lilly then asked commissioners to approve hiring Creed as emergency management coordinator.

Creed has more than 40 years of public safety experience, is a certified arson investigator and Texas peace officer and is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Leadership and Command College, Lilly told commissioners.

“He has a wealth of experience in just about every facet of pubic safety you can imagine,” Lilly said. “So we’re very lucky to have him.”

Lilly said the job will have a different scope with Creed’s hiring. “Emergency management is one of my highest priorities,” Lilly said. “It’s going to be a much more active position.”

Lilly said his intent is to have Creed take over arson investigations out in the county after Brownwood Fire Marshal Buddy Preston retires. The county currently contracts with Preston as a fire investigator in the county, Lilly said.

Brownwood Fire Chief Eddy Wood told Lilly the Brownwood Fire Department would like to “wind down the procedure of us calling his arson investigator out into the county,” Lilly told commissioners. “They have enough to do in the city. So eventually we’re going to have to assume those duties ourselves.”

Commissioner Gary Worley challenged Lilly’s intent to pay Creed more than the $26,000 starting salary approved earlier by commissioners. “We’ve got a starting salary set for nearly every position in the county,” Worley said.

Lilly cited Creed’s “more than 40 years of service, his multiple licenses and his wealth of experience that he’s going to bring to us.”

Commissioners court members voted 3-2 to approve Creed’s salary, with Worley and commissioner Larry Traweek voting no.

Creed replaces Mechail Cox, who had the job since 2013.

Lilly asked commissioners to approve hiring Contreras as part-time grants coordinator, who will work about 20 hours a week. Contreras, an Army veteran who retired as a state school employee, will not need to receive any benefits on top of his $15,000 salary, Lilly told commissioners.

Contreras will be a resource “for every single agency in the county, every elected official, every department head and every employee that is assigned to any kind of grant application and recovery,” Lilly told commissioners. “He would assist them with whatever the grant may be. He can help them apply for that and receive as much funding as possible.

“I would like to create that position for the rest of the fiscal year and let us see what he can do to help us, and help the volunteer fire departments obtain grants for equipment. At this point in time, we really don’t have a point person for the county that does that. There’s a ton of grants to there for the sheriff’s department as well, and any county law enforcement agencies.”

Worley said he doesn’t favor creating a new position and cast the lone “no” vote in hiring Contreras.

 

Pipeline grants

Lilly said Plains All American Pipeline representatives asked to meet with him before he took office. “They’re starting on (the new pipeline) this year,” Lilly said. “It will employ approximately 3,000 people. Some of those obviously will come from Brown County. It’s going to bring at least some jobs to our area for a considerable amount of time.”

The company will make funds available for grants “to all of the public safety agencies including law enforcement, fire and EMS, but particularly the volunteer fire departments that are within a 30-mile range the pipeline,” Lilly said.

“I have a plan to go and visit with each of the volunteer fire departments and explain to them the process of what’s gong to be available to them. My office is here to help them receive as much of the grants as we possibly can. So I want to start sooner than later.”

One of Contreras’ first priorities will be helping local agencies obtain as much of the grant money as possible from the pipeline company, Lilly told commissioners.