After a couple of weeks of debate over the new lines of the four Liberty County Commissioners Precincts, it appears they have agreed on a plan; at least some of them have. In a vote Tuesday, the court voted 3 to 1 in favor of the plan they will put forward to the public. Pct. 3 Commissioner David Whitmire cast the lone no vote, not happy over the loss of a large portion of the City of Cleveland in his area, as it takes away from the historic home base of that area.
That relationship to Cleveland for Pct. 3 is similar to the long-standing relationships of Pct. 1 to the City of Liberty, Pct. 2 to the Hardin area, and for Pct. 4, the City of Dayton, which is also seeing the lines shift considerably.
Before the vote was final, Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Wilson asked if everything had been done that could be done to protect that home area for Pct. 3 and Whitmire. Catherine Than, a representative of Bickerstaff, the firm helping layout the new precinct lines and keeping them in compliance with the law, acknowledged that her firm had considered all of the precincts populations and accounted for the historical relationships in these areas, as well as the input of all four commissioners.
"I don't like it. I don't like it, because we are going to have to take away from his home base. I wouldn't do it to you (Bruce Karbowski). I wouldn't do it to Greg (Arthur) but based on the options of what she has just indicated to me at this point in time. Yes," said Wilson before casting the deciding vote.
To say the lines have changed is an understatement, and for the fastest area of growth in the county, things will change significantly. Before the process of redistricting the county, the Pct. 3 area had seen the most significant population growth. They came in at a number of over 30,000 residents, which was far exceeding the necessary average of 21,749 that each area needs to be in the acceptable range of after redistricting.
The most significant changes in the county will come for Commissioners Pct. 1 Bruce Karbowski and Pct. 2 Greg Arthur, with both undergoing a significant geographical addition. Karbowski will take in the Hull and Daisetta areas and will take in the southern portion of the greater Dayton area. Arthur will extend further west while taking in the northwest corner of the county.
"Now we do have a map. Let me explain something that's going to happen in ten years, and I hope me and you are still alive," joked County Judge Jay Knight before going on to applaud those that made these changes.
"Whoever is the commissioner of Pct. 3 probably won't have Cleveland at all, so I really applaud Catherine's efforts, Bickerstaff's efforts, everybody's efforts in here together to work this out," concluded Knight.
There will be a public hearing to address the proposal Tuesday, Nov. 2 at 8:30 am, and the court will approve the final plan at their Tuesday, Nov. 9 meeting.