|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
Small changes needed in precinct lines
Trinity Standard -
GROVETON – While two of Trinity County’s four commissioner precincts are within federal population guidelines, Precinct 1 in the southeast has too many people and Precinct 4 in the north has too few. In his first redistricting report to county commissioners on Monday, County Attorney Joe Bell reported that Precinct 1 has to lose at least 173 people while Precinct 4 has to gain 230 in order to meet federal and state requirements. He noted that the 2010 U.S. Census listed Trinity County with a total population of 14,585 – which means that ideally each of the four precincts should contain 3,646 1/4 people. Because a deviation of plus or minus 5 percent is allowed, Bell said that to meet the requirements, each precinct had to have between 3,464 and 3,828 people. Based on numbers obtained from the Texas Legislative Council, the county attorney said Precinct 2’s population came in at 3,822 – only six below the maximum deviation allowed. Precinct 2 includes part of Trinity as well as the Westwood Shores, Trinity Cove and Pinecrest subdivisions. Precinct 3, which includes the rest of Trinity and areas north to Highway 287, had a population of 3,528, which is 64 above the minimum requirement. Precinct 4 is the largest in terms of size and includes large sections of the Davy Crockett National Forest, part of Groveton and the communities of Centerville and Apple Springs. Its 2010 census count was listed at 3,234, which Bell reported as 413 people below the “ideal” and 230 below the minimum acceptable. Precinct 1, which includes the rest of Groveton as well as the communities of Woodlake, Chita, Sebastopol and Carlisle, experienced the strongest population growth over the past 10 years. Its 2010 census count was 4,001, which was 335 more than the “ideal” and 173 over the maximum allowed. Although Bell had not yet developed a plan to redraw the precinct lines, he said the simplest solution would be to leave Precincts 2 and 3 as they are and adjust the lines to move at least 230 people from Precinct 1 into Precinct 4. While the four commissioners indicated they agreed, Pct. 4 Commissioner Jimmy Brown had one stipulation. ”When you do this, you need to do it by population and not by road mileage. I’ve got plenty of mileage right now and I don’t need any more,” Brown said. “Yes, but you get all the money for those road miles,” Pct. 1 Commissioner Grover “Tiger” Worsham joked. “Well, I’ll give you the money if you’ll take the road mileage,” Brown replied. At present, Pct. 4 contains almost half of the county’s road miles and receives almost half of the road and bridge budget. Before commissioners can approve a final plan, Bell said residents of the county will be allowed to make comments and suggestions. The first of the hearings to gather public input on the matter will be held at the Aug. 8 meeting of the commissioners. The regular sessions start at 9 a.m. in Groveton and anyone who wishes to speak on the matter will be given time. Bell noted he has been waiting for the state to complete its congressional redistricting effort before he began work on redrawing the precinct and voting box lines. He noted that in the state’s previous redrawing of their lines, they split Trinity County between District 6 U.S. Rep. Joe Barton and District 8 U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady. In doing so, the line separating the two congressional districts split a number of existing voting boxes, which in turn forced the county to make adjustments. Because the new state plan reunifies Trinity County in Brady’s District 8, Bell said they could rejoin the voting boxes they were forced to divide almost 10 years ago. Because of those forced divisions, Bell said there were cases where voters who lived within sight of one voting box were required to drive for miles to reach the box they were assigned. Another possible change in voting boxes that has been discussed by commissioners in the past would be within Precinct 2. At present, there are only two voting boxes in that precinct and commissioners have indicated it might be better to have three. While the current redistricting effort is for commissioner precincts, any changes to the lines will also be made for justice of the peace and constable precincts. While the JP and constables lines are not required to match those of the commissioners, traditionally they all change at the same time to avoid confusion.