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Assisting victims of crime on the scene and beyond

Oped by Commissioner Cook

  • 16 May 2019
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 12
  • 0 Comments

Commissioner Cook showcases (left to right) Linda Sloan, volunteer; Pam Lowthorp, volunteer coordinator; Michele Kelley, volunteer; Hannah Nestorick, director, and Julia Cooper, caseworker with the Williamson County Victim Assistance Unit.

While we proclaimed April 7-13 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the work continues year-round.

The state Legislature passed legislation in 1989 requiring crime victim liaisons in law enforcement agencies and victim assistance coordinators in prosecutor offices. Both the Williamson County attorney’s and district attorney’s offices have victim services departments.

In Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick’s office, there are three full-time victim assistance coordinators who serve and care for victims and survivors of crime and their families while their cases are pending. They support the victims from the beginning stages of a case through the remainder of the court proceedings, appeals, parole process and even beyond.

The four victim advocate coordinators of Williamson County Attorney Doyle “Dee” Hobb’s office act as guides and serve as resources through the complexities of the criminal justice system, from intake to the prosecution of their cases and even aftercare.

However, my focus for this piece is the Victim Assistance Unit, a division of the Williamson County sheriff’s office and the first point of contact when emergency responders request assistance at the scene of an emergency.

After police, firefighters or EMS conduct their initial investigation of a crime, they often leave for other calls.

Following a traumatic event, people often feel helpless, confused and emotionally shocked. The unit representatives remain with victims in the immediate aftermath to provide temporary support. Hannah Nestorick, director of the victim assistance program, and two staff members work closely with 21 volunteers from the community to provide that support.

Reducing Ground-Level Ozone Regionally

by Commissioner Cook

  • 18 April 2019
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 172
  • 0 Comments

Commissioner Cook is holding her Ozone Action Day sign in front of the entrance to the Williamson County Jester Annex in Round Rock.NOTE: April 9 was the first time this year Commissioner Cook posted her Ozone Action Day signs at the Williamson County Jester Annex in Round Rock as the temperature climbed to 90 degrees.

With spring’s arrival, it’s important to remember ozone season has started and to understand what that means for our community.

Ozone is a form of oxygen with three atoms instead of the usual two.

Stratospheric ozone depletion is a global problem that was addressed through extensive work in this and other countries by banning solvents throughout the world that were believed to have depleted this layer of protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet light.

Time will tell if these endeavors were successful. So for now — remember your sunscreen.

The focus of regional air pollution control efforts is to reduce ground-level ozone, also called tropospheric ozone, and the most prevalent regional air pollution in Texas and the nation.

This ozone, the primary constituent of smog, is not emitted directly into the air but is formed through chemical reactions between natural and man-made emissions of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight.

In Central Texas, high ground-level ozone is driven by nitrogen oxides generated through fossil fuels being burned in vehicles, factories, water heaters and other combustion devices.

As a member of the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition, I’m privileged to participate in develo

Commissioner Cook Encourages Wilco Residents to Apply Now for 2020 Census Jobs

  • 28 March 2019
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 249
  • 0 Comments

See the source image                Log onto https://2020census.gov/jobs for information.

The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting thousands of people--including here in Williamson County--across the country to assist with the 2020 Census count.

Why Apply?

Earn Extra Money

Could you use a little extra income? Jobs for the 2020 Census offer competitive wages that are paid weekly. Authorized expenses, such as mileage, are reimbursed for employees doing fieldwork.

Support Your Community

Decennial census data are used to determine your representation in Congress, as well as how funds are spent for roads, schools, hospitals, and more. Help ensure that everyone in your community is counted in the next decennial census.

Fit Your Schedule

Temporary positions for the 2020 Census feature flexible hours—a perfect fit if you are looking to earn a little extra money, even if you already have other commitments.

Be a Part of History

Every 10 years since 1790, the United States has undertaken the momentous task of counting all of its residents. This is your chance to play a role.

The Williamson Central Appraisal District’s Responsibilities and Accomplishments

Oped by Commissioner Cook

  • 18 March 2019
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 314
  • 0 Comments

Commissioner Cook and Alvin Lankford, Williamson County’s chief appraiser, flank the Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration plaque the Williamson Central Appraisal District received in 2013.

The Williamson Central Appraisal District must annually appraise all taxable land, buildings, business inventories — and even billboards — for the county.

Although the WCAD is our county’s appraisal district, it is not a county government entity.

Often erroneously blamed for property tax increases, the appraisal district is responsible for certifying values for taxing units like cities, counties, school districts and others that formulate and set a tax rate based on their budgetary needs.

The Texas Property Tax Code requires the WCAD to assign a value to every property at 100 percent of what it deems the property would sell for as of Jan. 1 each year.

The Texas Comptroller audits the values assigned to property the WCAD appraises and the procedures used to determine these values.

The appraisal district utilizes sales prices obtained for homes in the neighborhood or area where the property is located that are of comparable size, quality and age.Read more

Vehicle registration, property taxes and the tax assessor-collector

Oped by Commissioner Cook

  • 21 February 2019
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 416
  • 0 Comments

Tax Assessor-Collector Larry Gaddes holds up one of the license plates stored at the tax office in Georgetown.Contrary to common belief, our county tax assessor-collector doesn’t determine the value of our homes or the tax rates applied to those values.

The county tax office is responsible for accurately calculating bills for our properties and mailing them. They also collect tax payments.

In addition, this office handles registration, renewals and title transfers of vehicles, and issues handicap placards and new or personalized plates.

In the past, tax assessors performed property appraisals. However, since 1982, state law requires that counties create single appraisal districts.

The Williamson Central Appraisal District is one of 254 appraisal districts responsible for valuing every parcel in our county.

Our tax assessor-collector, Larry Gaddes, first elected in 2016, was chief deputy for seven years leading to his election. He oversees a staff of 65. The main office is located just south of the Square in Georgetown, and the other three offices are in Round Rock, Cedar Park and Taylor.

Although most of us complain about property taxes, they are the primary source of revenue for our school districts, the county, city and other special districts. We use these funds to pay for services, such as new roads and road maintenance, emergency services, parks and flood control.

Gaddes said while property taxes account for the largest portion of funds the county collects, his offices conduct far more motor vehicle-related transactions throughout the year. Most people visiting their lobbies are there to handle transactions relating to the 450,000 registered vehicles in Texas.

 

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