By ZAK WELLERMAN
Directors of the Wood County Industrial Commission (WCIC) voted last week for a reduction in membership, term limits and a new name.
The proposed changes – all of which must be approved by county commissioners – come after the board reviewed recommendations from a blue ribbon task force created by Wood County Judge Lucy Hebron. In July, the WCIC board had discussed the task force proposals and planned to take action this month.
After considering a variety of options, WCIC directors chose to revise bylaws for a membership of up to 18 directors, compared with the current 23 directors. Under the old bylaws, the board consists of three representatives each from Quitman, Mineola, Yantis, Winnsboro, Alba and Hawkins, up to two from Jarvis Christian College, one from Golden and two from Holly Lake Ranch. The proposed new bylaws call for a representative nominated by each county commissioner, two representatives nominated by each municipality that contributes money to the commission, and two representatives nominated by Jarvis Christian College.
Several directors agreed that representation from a city would depend on whether the city contributed its population-based fee to the commission.
As it stands, cities in Wood County pay a fee based on population, which goes toward the WCIC executive director’s salary. For each resident, a city pays $1.57. For fiscal year 2018-19, Alba paid in $1,000; Hawkins, $2,006; Quitman, $3,187; Winnsboro, $5,391; Yantis, $609; and Mineola, $7,089.
The task force had suggested a seven-person board as well as eliminating population-based payments by cities in Wood County. Recently, Mineola and Winnsboro have expressed interest in not contributing to the WCIC or participating on its board.
Martha Scroggins, a representative for Quitman, said she believed a city should not have a vote on the WCIC board or serve on a board committee if the city doesn’t pay into the organization.
Last December, the board recommended reducing to two representatives from each city and one each from Jarvis, Golden and Holly Lake Ranch. This change was tabled by the commissioners and the matter has not been raised since.
Chairman Gerald Elliott noted having a smaller board size would give the directors a greater sense of responsibility and improve efficiency within the WCIC.
Under the newly proposed bylaws, terms of directors would be limited to three consecutive ones. Each term is two years. A board director who has served three terms consecutively can be nominated again to serve, but they must first be off the board for a full two-year term.
The name of the organization was also addressed. The task force had suggested changing it to the Wood County Economic Development Alliance. Board directors agreed to incorporate the phrase “economic development” into the name, but they wanted to retain the word “commission.” The board voted to rename the body the Wood County Economic Development Commission.
In a separate matter, WCIC Executive Director Kiki Bettis told the board that she will be working with the Alba Economic Development Corp. to help revitalize downtown Alba through assistance from the Texas Downtown Association.
The economic development committee will meet soon to discuss Unclaimed Capital Credits (UCC) fund project applications. UCC funding goes toward business retention and expansion projects within the county.