County forward planning committee discusses current, future initiatives

May 3, 2013

Shown at the Nolan County Forward Planning committee meeting are Kim Alexander, Superintendent of Roscoe ISD; Jeff Posey with Bitter Creek Water Supply Corporation; Nathan Ehlert, business manager for Sweetwater ISD; Terry Pittman, Superintendent of Sweetwater ISD; and Gail Lawrence, President of Texas State Technical College West Texas. (Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez)

Rounding out the Nolan County Forward Planning Committee meeting last week at the Sweetwater Country Club, the entities presented discussed their current initiatives while looking ahead to how the Cline Shale oil development will impact them.
The local TSTC (Texas State Technical College) West Texas campus is gearing up for a new program in the fall as studies involving the oil and gas industry are on the rise. The school has also been asked about programs regarding CDLs (commercial drivers' license).
While the cost of equipment for these courses are being considered, TSTC is hoping to collaborate with companies to work toward training and education. Sweetwater ISD (Independent School District) is planning to work alongside TSTC as well in order to hone in on students who desire to enter the workforce.
However, SISD is waiting to learn about the decisions made from the state legislature in regards to state-mandated tests, among other issues. In addition, the Roscoe Collegiate Independent School District has seen an increase in enrollment, as well as continued progress within the district.
The City of Roscoe is also seeing progression, as four new businesses recently opened. They are also looking at the possibility of further housing development in the city.
Likewise, the City of Sweetwater is discussing infrastructure, development and budgeting, while also looking at better facilities for the local police department. Solutions for water are also being considered, while activity in City Hall continues in regards to ordinances and hotels.
Sweetwater is also working with the Cline Shale Alliance, while a strategic planning meeting is planned for the future.
Nolan County, as a result of Sweetwater and Roscoe's progression, has seen evident growth and is ready to offer assistance as needed. Their two big projects — the courthouse and jail construction — are coming up, with the courthouse renovations scheduled to begin on May 6.
Additionally, the Nolan County Foundation is also at work with current and potential donors. The entity encourages Nolan County non-profit organizations to request funds for their needed projects.
Regarding healthcare, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital continues to work on their infrastructure, as the current construction project is slated to be completed by this June. Also this summer, following decisions by the hospital district's board of directors, they will also begin construction on a new cardiac rehab building.
In the meantime, the hospital is working toward access to healthcare and is actively recruiting doctors. They continue to examine their services in the emergency room (ER), and expect for 100% of the workers in the department to be qualified by this summer.
Furthermore, RPMH is initially looking at what direction to take for campus security, following several concerns over the past several months.
Beyond Nolan County, the Workforce Solutions in Abilene is in the initial stages of working on several grants. One grant would assist with online technology and dual credit courses, while another grant would allow for a partnership with colleges located in the Cline, Eagle Ford and Permian Basin oil development areas.
Along with the Concho Valley workforce board, the Workforce Solutions will meet later this month to work on a Cline Shale Consortium. Also, the Sweetwater Career Day has been scheduled for Friday, May 17, featuring over 30 exhibitors during the morning event.
And in Fisher County, they are looking at addressing the concerns with the upkeep of FM (farm to market) roads as well as present water issues. The Bitter Creek Water Supply Corporation is also looking to begin construction in the near future.
But with all of the updates from the respective organizations, SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) representatives urged the groups to determine the future steps of the committee. Meetings will still take place, but they were asked to decide if tougher issues should be presented by taking the meetings to a higher level.
Thus, the planning committee decided that they wanted to have a public forum, sometime in June, so that people would have the opportunity to ask questions and learn how everyone will be affected by the incoming venture the area.

This article is the final story in a four-part series detailing the April 2013 meeting of the Nolan County Forward Planning Committee and their efforts to learn about and prepare for the Cline Shale oil development.

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