Leadership Temple Class of 2023 Participants: Brooke Barron, Christine Leal, & Cassidy Revis
Gaining a better understanding of County Government was the objective for the Leadership Temple (LT) Class of 2023 Bell County Day. The group not only got to learn first-hand from several key departments and elected officials within County Government, but they also heard from many of the dedicated employees of the County who are driven by caring for the community.
The first stop of the day was at the Bell County Courthouse, where Bell County Judge David Blackburn and Bell County Commissioner for Precinct 3 Bill Schuman briefed LT about the history of Bell County and their responsibilities, as elected officials, to the public.
A surprising takeaway from the Bell County Commissioners Court meeting was learning how state regulations impact County authority and budgets. The group realized a contrast to a municipal authority that can pass and enforce ordinances and penalize violations, which they heard about in their September session with City Government. The statutes imposed on County Government are often unfunded mandates. One such mandate is to operate and maintain a jail without funding or resources to support it.
The day continued with a briefing and visit with Bell County’s ‘first’-first responders at the 9-1-1 Communications Center. These individuals direct first responders 24/7, 365 days a year, and are available to answer emergency calls caused by bad weather, fires, car accidents, violent crimes, and everything in between. They are highly trained and play a primary role in maintaining public safety for the residents of Bell County.
“It was evident to me that those working as 9-1-1 call takers are driven by caring for the community through their stressful jobs,” noted Brooke Barron, BGFN and LT Class of 2023 participant. “The hearts and storks on the wall representing their assistance with CPR life saves and delivering babies was extremely touching.”
The day continued with a stop at the Bell County Jail with a briefing and tour by Bell County Sheriff Eddy Lange and members of his team.
The Pandemic had a negative and continuous impact on the operational efficiency and capacity of the County Jail system. This caused the County to resort to drastic measures to house inmates, including at other jail facilities across the state at an average monthly cost of $400,000.
In May 2021, the Bell County Commissioners Court approved the Bell County Jail expansion project. The first phase of construction is now nearing completion, and the LT class had the opportunity to see the new pod that will help alleviate some of the capacity issues.
The afternoon continued with a deep dive into the judicial system with District and County Judges and Attorneys. “I know that I am making a difference in one person’s life, which is enough. Making a difference is important to me,” said Stephanie Newell, First Assistant District Attorney.
The final stop was at the Bell County Clerk’s Office. The Bell County Clerk's office is responsible for recording our county history.
“What struck me the most was the dedication of the people we encountered, who do difficult and demanding jobs. From the call center to the jail, to the justice center - Bell County employees are dedicated to keeping the community safe,” said Christine Leal, City of Temple and LT Class of 2023 participant.