Smith County commissioners on Tuesday reached a consensus to send two county animal control officers to the police academy to earn peace officer’s licenses.
The item on Tuesday’s commission agenda did not require a vote, but commissioners had to reach a consensus in order to give direction to Amber Greene, animal control and shelter supervisor, said Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran.
The issue of animal control officers becoming licensed peace officers came up in December. The discussion centered around the benefits, cost and how many should be licensed.
At the December commissioners meeting, Greene said her employees are responsible for loose animals, animal bites and animal cruelty cases, adding that officers protect residents and property.
She said with those duties and others, it’s important for animal control officers to be well trained to better serve the community.
As licensed peace officers, animal control officers would be able to handle issues such as animal cruelty cases from arrest to prosecution rather than bringing in other departments, such as the sheriff’s office, she said.
Right now, animal control officers have to request assistance from a deputy to investigate possible animal cruelty cases.
“This is twice the time needed to prosecute a crime and twice the expense,” she said. “This is all time and money spent which could be cut in half if the (animal control officers) could do it all.”
Training for the animal control officers to become licensed would be done through the East Texas Council of Governments, meaning there would be no cost to the county, Moran said. However, some costs such as equipment and pay increases would arise on the back end.
“I think the animal control officer, by (becoming) peace officers, will allow them to do their jobs more effectively,” Gwen Coyle with Angle Paw Advocates said during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting. “It will also allow that abuse and neglect that we see pretty much on a daily, hourly basis to be more effectively handled.”
JoAnn Hampton, Pct. 4 commissioner, said she does not have an issue with allowing animal control officers to receive a peace officer’s license. However, she said she believe only two of the officers should become licensed at this time.
Hampton said licensing the entire animal control department could lead to some officers going to different departments once certified.
“I would like to try two and see how many cases it grows,” Pct. 2 Commissioner Cary Nix said. “If it’s taking more and more time, then maybe we can look at adding more over time, but I think the director and one other (should be licensed) and see where it goes from there.”
After discussions during Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners agreed that Greene and one other employee from her department could obtain a peace officer’s license. If more officers need to become licensed in the future, the issue can be brought back to the court.
“This is actually a nice step for your office and something that will provide a lot of added benefit without all the added cost on the backside,” Moran said.
Thursday was a day to promote local businesses as the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its 27th annual Business2Business Expo at the Green Acres Baptist Church Crosswalk Center.
From 1 to 5 p.m., attendees mingled and exchanged business cards and information with businesses who attended the event and set up booths.
There were more than five rows with booths on each side, where local businesses showcased their latest services and products.
According to the chamber, over 5,000 people attend the event each year to learn about local goods and services and to network with others in business.
There were over 20 sponsors, including KETK FOX51/NBC, ETX View Magazine/Tyler Morning Telegraph/M. Roberts Digital and Office Barn as corporate sponsors and Bailey’s Lawn & Tree Service, Better Business Bureau Serving East Texas, Conterra Networks and KLTV-7 as platinum sponsors.
Prime sponsors included Alpha Media East Texas, Azalea Orthopedic & Sports Medicine, Baylor Scott & White Texas Spine & Joint Hospital, Inkredible Sounds, KYTK-TV-CBS, Manpower, Nolan Farms, LLC, Oncor, Proforma Horizon Total Source, Reynolds Radio, Southside Bank, Townsquare Media and Tyler Today Magazine.
Parents will no longer need to travel to Dallas or Houston to address their child’s pediatric surgical care thanks to a partnership between Christus Trinity Mother Frances and Pediatric Surgical Associates.
The partnership makes the Tyler hospital the first healthcare facility in East Texas to offer around-the-clock, dedicated pediatric surgery services to patients with the capacity to offer many procedures with board-certified pediatric surgery specialists in Tyler.
Pediatric Surgical Associates surgery services include, but are not limited to, abdominal and abdominal wall surgery, thoracic surgery, genitourinary surgery, head and neck surgery, skin and soft tissue surgery, laparoscopic surgery, birth defects and prenatal counseling. The team of providers has more than 100 years of combined experience and are committed to the safety and well-being of children entrusted to their care.
Physicians will provide 24/7 hospital coverage, ambulatory surgery services and an outpatient clinic located at 417 Saunders Ave., adjacent to the main campus.
“Pediatric Surgical Associates is a highly-respected and experienced group that will be here serving Christus Trinity Mother Frances, offering scheduled and on-call surgical services, as well as a walk-in clinic,” said Lynn Wyllie, Registered Nurse and Certified Surgical Services Manager and associate vice president of Perioperative Services at Christus.
“Previously, outside of the Ear/Nose/Throat procedures, children would need to travel to Dallas or Houston to receive surgical care. Now, they can stay in town – which is better for the patients, for their families and for their care,” Wyllie said.
She added that as partners, Pediatric Surgical Associates aligns closely with the hospital’s mission with how they operate. They will be using the same Epic Electronic Health Record as well, so that families will be able to use MyChart and will also allow for Christus pediatricians to send direct and easy referrals for care.
The group of surgeons is based in Dallas, but several members have ties to East Texas. Dr. Jay Roden, medical director of Pediatric Surgical Associates, said he grew up in East Texas.
“This is a growing community with a need for pediatric surgery and we want to serve that need. We love the mission of Christus Health and we are excited to join together in this effort with Christus Trinity Mother Frances Health System to allow kids to be cared for in their community, close to home,” Roden said.
Pediatric Surgical Associates utilizes a collaborative, team-based approach to the diagnosis and management of each patient’s surgical condition. They actively involve members of the family, patient’s primary care physician and other members of the health care team throughout each step of the process to achieve the highest quality outcome.
Jason Proctor, ministry president of the Tyler hospital, said the health system takes pride in being able to provide access to high-level care.
“The key factor here is that we can offer these critical pediatric surgery services right away, without having to go out of town for a surgery: consultation, clinic visits, surgery – all right here. Giving our patients that continuity of care is exciting and because it’s not only convenient and related to improved recovery and outcomes, but because it allows us to further our Mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ,” he said.
“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalms 118:5-6)