Breckenridge Texan

County Commissioners agree to change emergency notification systems, discuss road improvement grant

County Commissioners agree to change emergency notification systems, discuss road improvement grant
August 01
16:03 2023

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Stephens County will change the emergency notification system that lets local residents know about severe weather and other threatening situations.

At their July 24 meeting, the Stephens County Commissioners voted to end their contract with CodeRed and sign on with Hyper-Reach. The decision followed a discussion with Breckenridge Police Chief Bacel Cantrell, who said he had been contacted by Hyper-Reach and had reviewed what they have to offer.

Two of the biggest benefits of Hyper-Reach are unlimited users and a much lower cost, Cantrell said.

Those who want to receive emergency notifications by email or text message will need to sign up for Hyper-Reach, once it’s implemented locally. However, emergency coordinators will have the ability to push notifications about life-threatening situations to any mobile phone in the area, Cantrell told the commissioners.

Additionally, Hyper-Reach is more user-friendly for those inputting the information, Cantrell said. That means that emergency messages can be sent out in a more timely manner.

The commissioners voted to end the contract with CodeRed in October and sign up for the Hyper-Reach service.

More details about how local residents can sign up for Hyper-Reach will be available once the new service is in place.

Breckenridge City Manager Cynthia Northrop, at podium, talks to the Stephens County Commissioners Court about the Hyper-Reach emergency notification system that the City recommended to replace the CodeRed system. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Street Improvements

The County is also working with the City on street improvements within the city limits. Stephens County was approved to receive a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant that will be used to improve streets in Breckenridge through an interlocal agreement between the City and the County. The grant stipulates that the County must contribute matching funds of $50,000, which will be provided as in-kind work, County Judge Michael Roach said.

Based on the information received by the County, the road work should begin next fall, he said.

Roach said there have been some misperceptions by some local residents about the source of the $500,000.

“For clarification, also — and I think this is important, because I think there’s some misunderstanding in the community, especially for those outside of the incorporated areas of the city — the CDBG grant — the half a million dollars … that is not ad valorem tax revenue we’re talking about,” Roach said. “… This comes from federal dollars that are block granted to the state of Texas. I guess you could make the argument all money comes from payers, which would be taxpayers. So… they just don’t produce it out of thin air. But, but this is not a tax burden. Because I think some folks think–  I’m saying this on the record — they think … that we are taxing county residents, a half a million extra dollars — and perhaps even at the lake where we can get higher property values — and then taking those those monies and coming inside the city limits and repairing roads. That’s simply not true. This is a grant, and the $50,000 we are kicking in is in-kind work, which some people may be familiar with as sweat equity… That’s what this is. This half a million dollars is not coming out of the ad valorem revenue that we get. That stays just just like it always has, and we repair county roads. … So I just think that’s important to have that conversation in public that … the half a million dollars we’re talking about is a grant.”

In an additional interlocal agreement, the County will use its new equipment to chipseal some streets in Breckenridge this fall. That work will be done on some of the streets such as Chaparral Lane that are more like rural roads than city streets, Breckenridge City Manager Cynthia Northrop said at the meeting. However, the specific streets that will be improved with the County’s equipment have not been finalized, she said.

The chipseal work will begin later this year, after the County has had a chance to use it on some rural roads, Roach said. That project is separate from the CDBG project.

“We’re very appreciative for the partnership with you guys … on all the opportunities that we … partner in,” Northrop said. “I think, you know, it’s also important to note that … even if they are in the city, they’re still county residents, too.”

Roach agreed and said that was the sentiment of the commissioners when they first considered the idea. “I think this kind of cooperation is fantastic,” he said. “I think is where we can work together while we still … take care of the basics that we’ve always taken care of. And I think this Court has shown that you can do both; you don’t have to neglect the county to come into the city and take care of some things from time to time. We can do it all; we really can work together. So it’s been fantastic.”

Other Business

In other business at the County meeting, the commissioners approved the following:

  • to allocate a portion of unclaimed capital credits from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
  • contracts for software and hardware maintenance
  • acceptance of an advance funding agreement between the Texas Department of Transportation and Stephens County for work on a bridge on County Road 146
  • the Western Surety Bond for the county attorney’s secretary
  • took no action on the Burn Ban, leaving it in place for the county

Additionally, at a special-called meeting on July 31, the commissioners approved payment of $49,899.14 to Bayer Chevrolet for a 2023 pickup for the Sheriff’s Office.


Cutline, top photo: Breckenridge Chief of Police Bacel Cantrell, left, addresses the Stephens County Commissioners Court about switching from CodeRed to Hyper-Reach for emergency notifications to community members. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


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