AP NEWS

Third time a charm for ESD 3 in election results

May 9, 2019

Denny Loonam is dancing an Irish jig. Privately, of course. Following the passage and adoption of a local sales and use tax at the rate of 1 percent, the Irish guy and board president for Emergency Services District No. 3 says he can finally breathe.

ESD No. 3 covers just south of Dayton to the county line near Mont Belvieu and provides funding for Westlake Fire Department in Liberty County.

“The third time was a charm,” he said, maybe a lucky charm.

Twice before, the district went out for a property tax. Both times the measure failed. The last time by one vote.

This time the approach was different—a sales and use tax that could be equally shared by only those who consume products at their local businesses.

“That means not just residents, but anyone who comes through here,” he said.

Loonam said with the 1 percent sales tax, according to the state they should average in the $70,000 per year range.

The amount will double their current income without having a property tax increase.

The area has 28 pipelines, two cell towers, a Dollar General, three convenience stores and multiple small businesses that should help generate a better income for the district and it couldn’t come at a better time.

“They are projecting between 14,000 to 21,000 new homes out here, and we’ll get a large portion of that,” he said.

Loonam spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to help his ESD provide for Westlake Fire Department.

“When we first opened, we had an ambulance service, but it was too expensive for us to keep and we had to let it go,” he said.

He pointed out that just to outfit a single firefighter with the necessary equipment costs the district $10,000 per firefighter.

“That’s bunker gear, air packs and it doesn’t include training,” he said.

The station itself will finally receive some attention.

“When we bought the building, it was torn down in Liberty in 1995 and reassembled here. At the time it was already 20-30 years old,” he said.

The board’s intention is to put in a substation in the Old River area.

“We’ve got a lot of plans, but we won’t be making anything until we know how much we’ll actually be receiving,” Loonam said.

The funds won’t begin to flow until next year. The tax goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020 and the state pays quarterly, meaning funds from January through March won’t be paid until April of 2020.

The first year the department was in operation as a rural fire department, they received a mere $13,000 for operations.

“And that was with three cents property tax. Here we are 27 years later with that same amount. We were in a desperate situation,” he said.

County Road 1413 will soon be cutting through the area and he knew the stress was on to get something to help preserve the fire department and the district.

Three years ago they bought a 2010 fire truck for $65,000 and they are still making the payments.

“I can breathe a sigh of relief,” the veteran firefighter said.

He has spent 52 years in fire service, 22 of them as the fire chief of Westlake but the passage of the referendum may be his best gift to his beloved department and legacy.

In other races, Ames mayor John White was returned to office. He will have three new councilmembers to work with in Emmett Albro, Brittney C. Allgood, and Audrey Harrison.

Cleveland ISD voters turned down the $250 million bond referendum by a narrow 312 for and 354 against. At the same time, voters ousted the two incumbents, Ronnie Lewis and Sharica Lewis, in favor of Willie Carter and Amanda Sandoval.

In the Dayton ISD trustee’s election, Luke Chachere was unopposed and will return to the board. In Position 2, Chris Shumaker and Barry Pruitt both finished with 283 votes each in a field of four candidates. Liberty County Clerk Lee Haidusek said she will consult the Secretary of State’s office on Monday on how to proceed.

In the city of Hardin, voters overwhelmingly out former mayor Stephanie D. Blume favoring Harry Johnson instead. He will have Chris W. Goodwin and Harvey Finley serving at his side following their unopposed election.

In the city of Liberty, Diane Huddleston, Dennis Beasley, and Libby Simonson will be returned to city council. In the special election held to fill the term of former councilman Paul Glazener, Neal Thornton narrowly defeated Ed Seymour, 178-163 for the seat.

The city of Dayton has elected their first woman mayor. Caroline Wadzeck ran unopposed and will serve with returning councilmen John Johnson, also unopposed, and Troy Barton who defeated Meadow Noyer Coward for the Position 5 seat.

All results are unofficial and will be canvassed in upcoming public meetings.

CITY OF AMES

Mayor

John White 75

Reuben Williams 37

City Council Pos. 1

Emmett Albro 62

City Council Pos. 3

Brittney C. Allgood 62

Loriane Coates 35

City Council Pos. 5

Brandy C. Pruitt 43

Audrey Harrison 60

CLEVELAND ISD

Trustee Pos. 4

Willie Carter 345

(I) Ronnie Lewis 293

Trustee Pos. 5

(I) Sharica Lewis 284

Amanda Sandoval Brooks 333

Proposition A

For 312

Against 354

DAYTON ISD

Trustee Pos. 1

L. R. (Luke) Chachere 557

Trustee Pos. 2

Chris Shumaker 283

Barry Pruitt 283

Mark Richter 32

Juan Carranco 63

CITY OF HARDIN

Mayor

Harry Johnson 116

Stephanie D. Blume 20

Phyllis Lognion Lewing 5

Heather West-Seward 3

City Council Pos. 1

Chris W. Goodwin 120

City Council Pos. 5

Harvey Finley 120

CITY OF LIBERTY

City Council Members (only 3 win)

Diane Haywood Huddleston 216

Ron W. Blake 26

Libby Simonson 181

Dennis Beasley 216

Troy D. Beasley 86

Jennifer Regen 107

City Council Special Election

Ed Seymour 163

Neal Thornton 178

LIBERTY COUNTY EMERGENCY SERVICE DISTRICT NO. 3

Proposition A

Yes 63

No 48

CITY OF DAYTON

Mayor

Caroline R. Wadzeck 383

City Council Pos. 4

John S. Johnson 212

City Council Pos. 5

Meadow Noyer Coward 177

Troy E. Barton 243

dtaylor@hcnonline.com