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Sheriff’s plan will increase coverage in Lantana, area towns

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As part of a new plan to create six districts within Denton County and assign deputies to patrol each district, Randy Plemons, assistant chief deputy with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, recently updated Lantana officials about how the plan would affect the community.

“Our plan is to take care of the whole county, but we want to take care of you,” said Sheriff Will Travis, who joined Plemons along with Precinct 4 Commissioner Andy Eads to talk with board members of Fresh Water Supply Districts 6 and 7 at a joint meeting in September.

“We’re looking at getting a substation for this area,” Plemons said, adding that it would allow the deputy assigned to the district where Lantana is located to have a place to meet with people as needed. In addition, the sheriff’s office plans to have extra patrol vehicles on hand in case the deputy’s vehicle has problems and a need for changing to another patrol vehicle becomes necessary.

“We don’t want them having to leave the district and drive back to get another patrol vehicle,” he said.

The sheriff’s office hopes to find an office space free of charge to curb expenses for patrolling the district.

Officials have said Interstate 35E construction and high traffic volumes could have delayed response to calls for service under the current system of four districts with all deputies based out of the Denton complex. The substations would eliminate the need to navigate the interstate and traffic to respond to calls.

The plan also calls for a corporal and sergeant to rove through the six districts, responding as back-up in high priority calls such as incidents involving firearms.

Plemons said the sheriff’s office handled 303 fire and EMS calls from Lantana for a one-year period as well as a total of 2,021 calls for service including self-initiated response by deputies patrolling the area.

Donna Robichaux, board member for Fresh Water Supply District 6, said she was impressed with the plan and appreciated the county’s plans for delivering timely service to Lantana residents.

Denton County will spend about $150,000 for each deputy and patrol vehicle for a total estimated cost of $900,000, not counting a storefront.

Eads said the county also is spending an estimated $9 million to upgrade radios for 9-1-1 service and has opened a new district court at a cost of $1 million.

“This was a big public safety year,” Eads said. “And we’ve been able to reduce the tax rate by a penny.”

Robichaux said the plan and the estimated $1 million in dedicated funds to patrol the unincorporated areas of the county as well as the other upgrades go a long way to showing Lantana residents their money’s worth for paying county taxes.

“This was a very good step to close that gap,” she said.

In other business during the joint meeting, board members:

*Approved an annual salary increase of 3.5 percent for district staff and voted to seek quotes on a compensation survey. The last study was completed in 2010.

*Erin Venell with Adkins Elementary School reported attendance at the new campus was 295.

*General Manager Kevin Mercer told board members that he has submitted a letter to the Denton Independent School District’s transportation director to reconsider transportation plans for Lantana. The northern section of the Adkins school zone is approximately 2.6 miles by vehicle from the campus and he would like the district to consider offering bus transportation for students living in those neighborhoods.

* Larry Stipes, Lantana contracts manager, offered a report on management of the landscape in Lantana, adding that 5,800 trees have been planted since Lantana opened not including cedar elms that were transplanted from a tree farm on the site or replacement trees on the site. Recently, wax myrtles have been removed and will be replaced with 38 crape myrtle, live oak, cedar elm and eastern red cedar trees throughout the development, he said.

*Fresh Water Supply District 7 board member Steve Spence presented the pros and cons of Lantana attempting to incorporate as a municipality. Spence concluded that there was no major economic advantage to incorporate nor the threat of another city annexing Lantana anytime in the foreseeable future.

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