Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Johnson County

December 27, 2011

Howell highlights issues of importance in Precinct 2 commissioner’s race

Burleson resident Kenny Howell cited infrastructure and animal control issues when discussing his run for the Johnson County Precinct 2 Commissioner’s seat.

Howell faces challengers Kirk Carrell and Eddy Bransom in the Republican primary that will determine which candidate will stand in the November general election. No Democratic candidates filed for the race.

Howell, a 1976 Burleson High School graduate, has operated businesses in Johnson County for 29 years.

“Howell’s Trucking and Excavating is my main company, which grew from myself and one dump truck,” Howell said. “And Co-ed Cuts [in Joshua], which we’ve had 16 years now.”

Running a county precinct is like running a business in many ways, Howell said.

“Budgets have to be made,” Howell said. “Contracts have to be signed, You have to be able to communicate with people, deal with other entities and manage and I’ve done that.

“A big thing is being a good problem solver. If you’re not a good problem solver you probably won’t be a good commissioner and I’ve been solving problems for 29 years whether it be in the area of employees, customers or vendors.”

Howell said he pushed the importance of building roads the first time he ran for commissioner, something he still calls vital to Johnson County.

“But at the same time, that’s not why I’m running,” Howell said. “We have a very good, capable crew at Precinct 2. I happen to be good, personal friends with Harold Hampton and I think he’s one of the best project supervisors the county has. He and his guys know how to build roads, but at the same time I think it’s a plus to have a county commissioner that knows how to oversee that they’re done right.”

If elected, Howell said he will be a public commissioner and available to the people.

“A county commissioners’ job doesn’t end by leaving commissioners court,” Howell said. “I think you have to occasionally visit a school board meeting, city council meeting, baseball, football and basketball games. If you’re not out where the constituents are and blending in with them, how do you know what people are thinking?

“It’s a full-time position and you need to be out there to visit with people and let them know they can come to you.”

Thanks to expected population growth — projections forecast population growing by 50 percent in 10 years and doubling in 20 — Howell called infrastructure planning paramount.

“You put that kind of traffic on our county roads as they are now and they’re going to be destroyed,” Howell said. “We’ve got to start right now in planning for that.”

Lack of a county-wide animal control system is also troubling, Howell said.

“Dogs, cats, emus, horses, donkeys, you name it are being turned loose in the county,” Howell said. “The county’s being inundated with animals, mostly dogs. Tearing stuff up, dragging trash out and killing pets. People in some areas are literally afraid to let their kids go outside after dark because of the dogs.”

Construction of an animal control facility for the county would cost about $2.8 million, not to mention the associated costs, Howell said.

“Clearly we don’t have that kind of money to spend and people would not support that,” Howell said.

A proposition approved by Texas voters in November 2010, however, may now make establishment of a Johnson County animal control system a possibility, Howell said. The propositions allows counties to enter into long-term agreements with municipalities.

“My idea is to go to [Johnson County] cities and see if we couldn’t make a deal with them for a set amount each year to use their animal control facilities,” Howell said. “All we’d have to do is get a couple of deputies who want to work animal control and a truck with a cage. I think it can be done now where before it couldn’t.”

Howell served on the Johnson County Junior Livestock board for 10 years, the Joshua FFA Alumni board for 14 and two on the Joshua High School Advisory board. Howell presently serves on the Chisholm Trail 100’s board.

Howell said if you don’t have the heart to serve and are only in it for the paycheck, you’re in it for the wrong reasons.

“I haven’t missed a commissioners court in probably nine months,” Howell said. “Sat through every court, every redistricting, every budget hearing. You have to be there to see what goes one and see everyone’s personality to see how you’re going to be able to fit in with the court, and I’ve been schooling myself.

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