Johnson County Precinct 4 Commissioner Larry Woolley paid homage to his predecessor during Monday’s meeting of the Johnson County Commissioners Court as did County Judge Roger Harmon.
Following Harmon’s invocation to start the meeting, Woolley asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of former Precinct 4 Commissioner Billy Bob Aldridge, who passed away June 1 in Grandview at the age of 101.
“He was quite an addition to this county and quite a great American,” Woolley said.
Although Aldridge began his life in Oklahoma he had resided in Grandview since he was 2.
A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Aldridge served in the Seventh Fleet during World War II and was stationed in the South Pacific.
Aldridge later served as county commissioner from 1971 to 1986.
“Billy was already off the court when I came on as county judge,” Harmon said. “But he called and talked to me several times when I was first elected and that meant a lot. He was quite a character, but he was also a very good commissioner who got the job done.”
During his tenure on the court Aldridge made three trips to Austin to obtain certification for the construction of the Grandview Nursing Home. Aldridge also played an instrumental role in the construction of the Grandview Community Center, the relocation of the Grandview ISD football field and the paving of the school’s parking lot.
Aldridge, during his tenure, paved 90 percent of the county roads in Precinct 4.
“Mr. Aldridge was in office when I moved here in 1982,” Woolley said. “We go to church with his daughter and she and I both worked for Grandview ISD.”
Woolley noted that Aldridge is survived by his older sister, Bessie Lea Hodak, who is 103. Both of Aldridge’s parents lived to 104, according to his obituary.
Serving those who serve
“I’m craving ribs all the sudden,” Woolley joked following presentation of an award to Massey’s BBQ owner Todd Massey.
AMR Operations Manager Vernon Wickliffe presented the award in honor of Massey’s service to area first responders. AMR provides ambulance service to the county.
Fire, police and other emergency offices can’t shut down on holidays, Wickliffe said, adding that, for that reason, AMR wanted to honor Massey for serving Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to first responders and their families free of charge over the past several years.
Massey said his son inspired the idea, which started out small but soon grew.
“My son Justin was a firefighter in Alvarado at the time,” Massey said. “We’ve always been strong on family especially during holidays and I remember thinking one Thanksgiving when Justin had to work that it’s not going to be the same without him here. Then it occurred to me to just invite him and his whole department to come out to eat and that solved that problem.”
Massey said that while he appreciates the recognition it’s more about the importance of love of family and area officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Jerry Stringer agreed.
“With all the idiocy and insanity we’ve seen on the news in current days it’s unbelievable where we’re heading as a country,” Stringer said. “But it’s stories like these that give me hope that things are going to be okay.”
With jury trials set to resume in the near future at the Guinn Justice Center safety is key.
Commissioners approved the purchase of — as Harmon in jest referred to them — COVID-19 killing lights. The court’s approval actually calls for installation of UVC lights in the air handler units at Guinn Justice Center. The lights kill bacteria and virus responsible for flu, COVID-19 and other ailments, court officials said.
Federal CARES Act grants will cover the $35,902 price, Harmon said.
Commissioners also approved Sheriff Adam King’s request to apply for a grant through the U.S. Department of Justice. The grant, if awarded, will be used to offset DNA testing costs for JCSO’s cold case squad.
“We’d like to revisit several of our old cases because there have been substantial improvements in DNA testing over the last several years,” King said. “The thing is, we’re hampered by the costs because those tests are expensive.”
Stringer, himself a former law enforcement officer, voiced his support noting that improved DNA testing methods have helped solve in some cases decades old cold cases in other parts of the country.