Texas Master Gardener, 4-H Roundup awards reported to commissioners

AgriLife Extension Agent Micah Holcombe introduced 4-H Club members at the Milam County Commissioners Court Monday, outlining the awards won by the group at the recent state 4H Roundup.

During his report to the Commissioners Court Monday, AgriLife Extension Agent Floyd Ingram presented the Texas Master Gardener Association’s 2015 Outstanding  Master Gardener award to Jackie Thornton, a charter member and former president of Milam County’s Little River Basin Master Gardeners.


By Curtis Chubb

The county courtroom was alive with 4-H’ers, Master Gardeners, and their supporters at Monday’s meeting of the Milam County Commissioners Court. 

One of the reasons people were gathered was to honor Jackie Thornton from Rockdale for being selected as the “2015 Outstanding Texas Master Gardener.” 

As Milam County AgriLife Extension Agent Floyd Ingram summarized her extensive volunteer service to the Little River Basin Master Gardeners Association, it was easy to understand why the State of Texas had selected Thornton for this honor.

There also were four outstanding and upstanding 4-H members in attendance whom humbly stood near the north wall of the courtroom while their long list of accomplishments and awards were recited by Micah Holcombe, Milam County AgriLife Extension Agent. 

The young people provided solid examples for why the 4-H program in Milam County is flourishing and fulfilling the ‘4-H Vision’ of a “world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change.”

Other major events noticed at the commissioners court meeting were related to the remodeling and rebirth of the Milam County Health Department. 

First, the commissioners court approved structuring the Milam County Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) as a separate organization separate from the health department. The new Milam County WIC program is totally funded by federal programs administered by the state and will now report directly to the commissioners court. The program’s director will be Debbie Olbrich, R.N.

Second, the new Milam County Health Department director was introduced. After interviewing multiple candidates in workshops during the past two months, the commissioners court selected Robert Kirkpatrick as the new director. He will start on July 1. Kirkpatrick is currently employed by the Texas Department of State Health Services – the state department which administers many of the contracts that fund the services of the Milam County Health Department. 

His current duties at the state health department include ensuring that local health departments have operational Strategic National Stockpile Plans in place for receiving and dispensing medical countermeasures. Countermeasures are actions or devices designed to stop or prevent something bad or dangerous. So, “medical countermeasures” includes vaccines, antiviral drugs, antibiotics, and antitoxins.

Kirkpatrick has also actively served as a logistics officer in the Texas Army National Guard. In total, he brings 20+ years of experience managing programs and projects to Milam County.

Kirkpatrick stated that he “looks forward to working and serving the people of Milam County.”

The third event associated with the health department was when Milam County Judge David Barkemeyer announced that Erica Reyes had been hired as the department’s Financial Administrative Assistant. Reyes who had previously worked for Cameron ISD started in her new position on May 31.

In other business, the commissioners court:

• Tabled the consideration of an agenda item dealing with a right-of-way easement within Precinct 2;

• Approved the deputation of James Pratt for the Milam County Sheriff’s Office;

• Approved the deputation of Esther Vargas for the Milam County Tax Assessor-Collector Office;

• Continued their review of the roads in the county and approved the designation of 14 new private roads covering all four precincts with the ultimate goal of improving emergency response times; and

• Approved changing the number designation for that segment of County Road 443 extending between FM 486 and its intersection with County Road 437 – that segment of County Road 443 will now be designated as County Road 463 in order to improve emergency response times.