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Fort Bend County, At Large
By Cheryl Skinner

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.


 
Arcola, Hilton & Stavinoha—Again

It seems like almost every week there is something brewing in Arcola and this week is no exception. But it has been that way for years—kind of a sad tradition.

Once again, Tom Hilton has thrown a kink in the kilter and finally apparently made the county so dang mad that they are going to take their toys and go home.

However, the county’s toys include bulldozers and some really expensive road working machines, men, material and everything in between. We aren’t talking a tennis racquet here!

Now you either like Tom Hilton and think he is a saint for saving Arcola from the evil conspiracy between those blood-sucking commissioners and the greedy private airport owner.

Or you are one of the growing numbers of people who have nothing but disdain for Hilton, his conspiracy theories and his determination to fight the county at every turn and, apparently, all costs.

I am supposed to be unbiased and I work very hard to keep that middle of the road persona. Sometimes it is very difficult and this time it is really starting to be overwhelming.

Why? Because while doing background on some of the more recent Arcola/County stories, I looked at stories I had written on this particular issue since 2003—in eight years that is a lot of stories.

Then, I looked at a website hosted by no other than Tom Hilton to prove his various talking points about the horror of Houston Southwest Airport and those dastardly county officials.

On December 28, 2005, Hilton posted the following statement on this site:

“Again, the Judge is quoted in the FORT BEND STAR (which, by the way never allows any opposing viewpoints to be published regarding this issue) “the plan to divert McKeever Road to South Post Oak...would provide critical relief for the overly congested roadways for people living in Sienna Plantation as well as overall relief for motorists who use those roadways”. THIS IS NOTHING MORE THAN EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE DISGUISED AS A MOBILITY PROJECT. You will see for yourself in the previous link that there is no “critical relief” needed here - the traffic count for McKeever today is 200 cars/day, with a projected count of 600/day. There are many other UNSAFE roads in Fort Bend County that deserve this Mobility Bond money than this boondoggle!!!”

I remind you I had just re-read dozens of stories about the issue that I had written and believe me Tom Hilton had his say often—quite often—so the above comments of dear Mr. Hilton kind of hit a raw spot in this reporter.

If his conspiracy theories, county bashing, and other outcries to the community are as accurate as that posting—well, let’s just say that his credibility in my mind has been seriously compromised.

Others are coming out of the woodwork saying they think this is all a personal vendetta on the part of Hilton.

He may just be the greatest councilman in history, with all the best interests of Arcola in mind.

However, I think it was those trees—not the newest tree issue—the ones that Jamie Griffith and Houston Southwest Airport took down some years ago that provided a barrier between the airport and Tom Hilton’s personal property.

Things just haven’t been the same since.

Coincidence?

Those 47 vacancies at the Sheriff’s Office County officials are saying Fort Bend County Sheriff Milton Wright currently has 47 vacancies, which includes about 24 from the recently approved new positions the commissioners granted a few weeks ago.

He will have over 100 positions to fill if the budget allows for all the new people to man the new jail tower.

But back to the vacancies. I know I’m not going balmy and I distinctly remember in several public political forums, Sheriff Wright disputing the claim of his then-opponent Billie Frank Teague, who said the Sheriff had a lot of unfilled positions in the agency.

The Sheriff, if I remember correctly, claimed he had staff up to snuff and Billie Frank was just blowing smoke.

If that was true, how did the Sheriff manage to have this sudden employee shortage AFTER the November election?

Since Milton has decided not to personally talk to me, I can’t ask him pertinent questions. Like why in the heck he would say that a jailer’s job “isn’t really dangerous?

Or why a law enforcement professional of his stature would be quoted as saying he wouldn’t hire “dope heads.”

Any time you deal with criminals, there is an element of danger and the jail is pretty much full of criminals. Dealing with them can be routine but it can also be dangerous.

So, if Milton really said it wasn’t, perhaps he needs to fill one of those 47 slots and try it a while.

The county is now going to hire 18-year-old kids straight out of high school or GED classes and put them in an often stressful, and yes, sometimes dangerous position.

At least let these young men and women know what they could face when they accept the position. It’s only fair.

And, of course no police agency in the nation will knowingly hire a person who uses drugs. But, calling certain applicants “dope heads” is a bit uncouth to say the least.

If he really said these things, I’m disappointed—both in his lack of professionalism and the apparent lack of understanding of the jail positions he is seeking to fill.

 

Contact skinnerc1@tconline.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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