The Gray County Commissioners Court met on Monday, May 1 for a regularly scheduled meeting. The meeting began with the court approving the minutes from the previous meeting held on April 14. With no unusual bills to be paid, line item 1 ‘Pay Bills as Approved by the County Auditor’ was approved. For line items 2 & 3, ‘Consider Line-Item Transfers’ & ‘Consider Budget Amendments’ nothing was to be discussed. Line Item 4, ‘Discussion with VFW for Exemption from Gray County Game Room Regulations to Re-Establish Game Room Operations at the VFW Building’ was the most discussed item, with members over the VFW post present, along with prosecutor David Glicker, on behalf of PaceOMatic who is working with the VFW to ensure they follow regulatory guidelines. Commander, John Tripplehorn was the spoke person for the Post 1657 on the matter, stating:
“On behalf of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1657, I’d like to thank y’all for the time here today. What we’re proposing here today is some renewal of things we had in the past. There are stories of what happened in the past, which are true but we have rectified and corrected those things. This group of men are going to put our names on this, and I can assure this commissioner’s court, we will shut down a problem as soon as it comes. Hopefully, we have learned from the past. The money raised in the past was not kept by the post, it was put to use in the community. Previously problems arose, but we won’t let that happen again. This group of men here today, I would trust with anything. We are going to be transparent and have rules in place. We are not in the business of pointing fingers, simply learning from the past.”
The attorney present, Mr. Glicker, spoke on behalf of the company he works for. Ensuring the court that the company and its products could not be tampered with or used outside of the regulations they have set on them. The game that PaceOMatic offers is only for non-profit organizations and is made to not breach gambling laws. After his presentation, Commissioner Baggerman questioned how it wasn’t considered gambling stating,
“If you’re putting money into it, and getting money out, how is it no gambling?”
Glickers response explained the differences.
“What makes something a gambling device is if you put money in, and get money out, it is a game partially of chance,” Glicker said. “This game has eliminated the chance. You cannot win by chance, in the instance of the game present here today, you have to identify and play ‘tic tac toe’ in a themed game, to win anything at all. In two of the rules we’ve applied, the maximum amount to be played is four dollars. We have our compliance department make sure all of our games are being run in the ordinances we have set. We shut them down if they’re not running as they should be, we’ve done it with other places.”
The games that are being requested to be put in at the VFW are skilled based, rather than chance based. The winning amount is set a 105%, with the maximum amount to be played set at four dollars.
“What are the benefits of having these?” Commissioner Haley said. “If it’s not gambling, what is the need.’
Tripplehorn addressed the issues that arose in the past but informed the court of the reasoning behind seeking reinstatement.
“We had some problems in the past, due to not being attentive, so we strongly felt it was our obligation to come before y’all and ensure that we won’t allow those problems to happen again,” Tripplehorn said. “We want to be transparent, to show we aren’t doing anything against what we’re allowed to do.”
The commissioners’ court can shut down or deny operations in this capacity. The VFW post has at the current moment 113 members, those present at the meeting are all for getting the approval of the proposal. Tripplehorn noted that the benefits from having the small income the post would get, would allow them to continue their give-back efforts to the community.
“This will give us funds that will ease the bills we have month to month,” Tripplehorn said. “We enjoy, as an organization, having the money to help people, we’ve helped anyone that’s walked through our doors. We give scholarships to the seniors at the high schools. This isn’t money for us to become rich and famous, we just want to be able to help.”
Commissioner Haleys’ only concern was the location of the post and the traffic this would bring.
“We have a church and a resident within the vicinity of where these games are going to be placed,” Porter said. “I don’t like the idea of putting these things that we’ve had issues with in the past, back on our main street downtown.”
The spokesperson assured the court that the spot these games would be placed in would have better lighting, and cameras to allow the members of the post to watch the patrons without issue. The VFW will present a written request to the court, stating what they’re asking and the guidelines they plan to go by, to ensure issues don’t occur again.
Line Item 5, ‘Consider Approval of New Gray County Extension Agent’, Marcus Preuninger was present as the new extension agent. Preuninger graduated from WTAMU with a BS in Agriculture in Science and an emphasis in teaching and extension. Preuninger started working in Mitchell County, in Colorado City for his start and now after 10 years in the job, will move to Pampa to replace the gap left by the previous extension agent. The court approved and welcomed the newest extension agent and Preuninger will officially start the job on June 1. Line Item 8, ‘Consider Replacing an Employee in the County Clerk’s Office’, Jeannie Horton informed the court that her deputy retired and was replaced by a part-time employee, with the court’s approval on the matter, the County Clerk’s office can now replace the part-time position.
Other items discussed:
Line Item 6, ‘Consider Resolution Authorizing Participation in the TexPool Investment Pools and Designating Authorized Representatives’ was approved.
Line Item 7, ‘Consider Airport Hanger Lease Transfer from Stephen Martin to Darrell Downs’ The item was presented at the previous meeting, but with the taxes unpaid it was tabled. Now with the taxes having been paid, the matter was approved.
Line Item 10, ‘Recognize County Judge Chris Porter as a 2 Year Fellow of the Texas Judicial Academy, with Certification to be Recorded in the Minutes of the Court’ was approved.
The next commissioner’s meeting will be held on Monday, May 15 in the second floor courtroom of the Gray County Courthouse.
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