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Burnet County recognized 2nd in state vet loans

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Burnet County commissioners learned Tuesday that their county ranked second overall in the state of Texas in 2016 for land loans through the Texas General Land Office's Veterans Land Board (VLB).

Ken Wallingford, a former Vietnam prisoner of war and senior advisor to the VLB, visited the court to present a certificate of appreciation and Texas flag to honor the county for having an extremely active veterans' presence, with $4,067,064 in land loans for fiscal year 2016 in Burnet County and to praise Veterans Officer Bill Worley, who was there for the presentation.

“What is great about the Veterans Land Board (VLB) is that we receive no money from the Texas Legislature,” Wallingford said. “This program is self funded by veterans and allows them to purchase land or build housing or make home improvements with a minimum down payment. This goes back to the days of the Republic of Texas, when those who served in the army of the Republic of Texas were given land. In 1946, following World War II, the Veterans Land Board was formed to give back to our veterans in the form of land loans so they could purchase their own land.”

Wallingford said the VLB is unique in that it allows Texas veterans the chance to borrow money up to $150,000 to purchase an acre of land while requiring a minimum down payment of five percent. Since 1946, more than 200,000 VLB loans have been funded for Texas veterans.

“One of the great privileges of serving as Land Commissioner is serving our veterans and their families,” Land Commissioner George P. Bush said in a statement. “Every day, in ways large and small, our office provides help and hope to our heroes — and we're grateful we've been tasked with this work. It's our way of making a small payment on a debt we can never fully repay.”

Commissioners also heard an annual report from Burnet County Child Welfare Board President Caroline Ragsdill. The purpose of the Child Welfare Board is to make Burnet County residents aware of neglect and abuse of children in the county and to assist the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to ensure the safety of children within the county.

Ragsdill said there were a total of 306 completed investigations of alleged child neglect or abuse in Burnet County in fiscal year 2016 with 79 removals of children from home. Each removal involves all of the children within a family, meaning the total number of children removed could be much higher. There were also 105 cases that went to Family Based Safety Services, where the department feels it is safe to leave a child within a home under caseworker supervision while services are offered to the family. Statewide, there were 166,753 family investigations by DFPS and 19,079 removals completed, according to statistics furnished by Ragsdill.

Burnet County gives $5,000 in funding per year to the Child Welfare Board, with which the organization provides clothing and other items to children removed by DFPS. The board also raises money throughout the year to pay for other things, including birthday cards and gift cards for all Burnet County foster children, Christmas gifts for children, educational and graduation expenses when necessary, back to school clothing and supplies, birth certificates when needed to place a child, mattresses and linens, baby beds, car seats, driver's education for children in the foster care system, and clothing and supplies for the DFPS “Rainbow Room.”

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month for the Child Welfare Board and a Child Protective Services appreciation luncheon will be held in May.

In other action Tuesday, commissioners voted to proclaim March 2017 as Youth Art Month in Burnet County. Samantha Melvin told commissioners there will be a reception at Happy Scoops in Burnet on Thursday, March 23, to honor students from Burnet CISD, Marble Falls ISD and Faith Academy who are taking part in the Courthouse Art project.

The county will hold a BOPATE (Batteries, Oil, Paint, Antifreeze, Tires & Electronics) Household Waste Collection event on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at a place to be determined after action by commissioners Tuesday.

Accepted waste at a BOPATE event typically includes automobile tires (up to 24-inch rim size), lead-acid batteries, cell phones and telephones, computer components and parts, televisions (no wooden consoles), used motor oil and filters and latex paint (no oil-based paint accepted).

The event will be financed with funds from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as well as contributions from municipalities within Burnet County in addition to county funds, said Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery.

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