Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

December 12, 2012

Pinotti: Commissioners fixed the maps

Years in the making, the many informational mistakes on Precinct 3 maps have been corrected

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

RUSK — After years and years of haggling, the Commissioners Court voted Tuesday to impose much-needed changes to Cherokee County Precinct 3 maps.

"This is a absolutely a victory for the people who live in my precinct – finally!" said Precinct 3 Commissioner Katherine Pinotti, who has long campaigned for the changes. "There are people who didn't know their road wasn't recognizable on the map until recently when they needed emergency services or medication. The only irony is – oh my goodness – we could have done this so long ago. But I guess now is the time."

Pinotti's specific request was to correct the listings of county roads that were mis-numbered or left off the map altogether. Specific county roads that were corrected include 3306A, 3305A, 1905A, 1804A, 1804B, 3821, 3161, 3303A, 3138, 3915, 4117, 3215, 3332, 3329, 3438, and 3209.

Pinotti estimated she has been trying to get the changes imposed for about four years. She laments that along the way, she had to bump heads with other commissioners several times about the proposed changes.

Byron Underwood, Precinct 4 Commissioner, and Steven Norton, Precinct 2 Commissioner, did not immediately answer their office phones Tuesday afternoon and could not be reached to comment.

But Cherokee County Judge Chris Davis  said the changes took a long time to impose because there were a lot of them to make. Commissioners now will continue to make similar changes in the remaining districts, Davis said.

"When you do it, you want to do it right," Davis said.

Pinotti is passionate in her belief the changes were necessary.  

In April 2009, a 7-year-old boy who lives in her precinct died of smoke inhalation after emergency responders had trouble making it to his home because road signs in that area were incorrect.

Her attempts to do a good deed did not go unpunished. Around March 2010, she landed in front of a Cherokee County grand jury after she argued with other county commissioners about whether Patterson Lane was a county or privately-owned road.

She was accused of misuse of county funds and investigated by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department for resurfacing Patterson Lane in Mt. Selman in August 2010.  

She had authorized more than  $26,000 to be spent on those renovations, which included dirt, gravel, a new culvert,  use of county equipment and employee hours to pave the road because she contended it belongs to the county.

In September 2010, her case went before a grand jury, but the jury declined to prosecute her for abuse of official capacity of more than $20,000, which would have been a third-degree felony had she been indicted.

On Tuesday, Pinotti was content her efforts had paid off.  

Thanks to the necessary map changes, Monday's meeting wasn't  short by any means. It went on and on as commissioners tweaked and corrected and corrected and tweaked. All the while, the officials looked around at one another to make sure everyone was on the same page with the changes.

Pinotti said the changes were a bear to impose.

"Really, what took so long was trying to determine how to correctly put the information in the court minutes," she said. "We were all eventually on the same page in our determination to word it correctly."

Now that the corrections have been made, the changes will need to be processed on a copy of the minutes, which probably won't be available until after Christmas, Pinotti said.

Afterward, she will try to plug the information into the county’s map book, which was made by Austin-based law firm Allison, Bass & Associates in 2007. This in turn will be fed into GPS systems.

Afterward, there's still more map-correcting to do, the county judge cautioned.

"We still have three of our precincts to go,” Davis said. “Precinct 3 took awhile because there were a lot of changes to make and their map really needed fixing. But this is important for us to do. Someone 25 years from now will want to know about these roads and we owe it to them to leave a good record."