Additional Documentation Requested For Verification Of Petition Requirements
Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom this week, in a letter, responded to the petition calling for a Dike incorporation election, requested additional documentation for verification of petition requirements.
The judge indicated the letter, addressed to Kirk Reams who presented the petition Aug. 15 during Commissioners Court, was drafted and mailed based on recommendations from legal council.
In the letter, Newsom advises Reams that “additional documentation” is required to provide “satisfactory proof that the petition meets the statutory requirements” for a Type C General-Law Municipality” as proposed. He said the petition failed to provide detailed documentation establishing the number of inhabitants and territorial requirements for incorporation as outlined in Chapter 8 of Texas Local Government Code.
The letter calls for a detailed map or adequate descriptions are needed to tailor ballots for the registered voters within the proposed boundaries. The map submitted, according to Newsom’s letter to Reams, fails to provide adequate details in order for the Hopkins County Clerk to identify the registered voters within the proposed boundaries.
Once satisfied with documentation, Newsom said that would be used to research the cost of holding a special incorporation election and notify him of the cost estimate. Funds would have to be paid in advance to prepare for the election, and a draft order calling for an election would be needed as well.
Reams said while frustrating, he is not surprised that his request for the judge to call for an incorporation election was not immediately approved. He feels the documentation submitted on behalf of the Dike residents already contains the necessary information, but anticipates the community stepping up to meet the request.
Reams, who signed the petition as acting interim mayor, said when seeking signatures for the petition, Dike voters who knew their voter ID information were asked to include their voter numbers. Community members went down the list, then researched a voter database to obtain voter information for the rest of the names on the list. Reams said Dike residents anticipate submitting to the county as proof that 10% of qualified voters in Dike have signed the petition.
Residents and property owners in Dike community began researching incorporation out of a desire to control what goes on in their community after they learned the Commissioners Court had approved tax incentives for a solar project planned in the Dike community.
When speaking up in Commissioners Court and a community meeting hosted by Engie and Hopkins County failed to achieve the goal of residents seeking to stop the solar project from coming to Dike, an attempt to get an injunction and other legal action also was sought. The Dike residents opposed to the solar company leasing private land and installing a solar facility in their community organized.
Initially, the Dike residents voiced a hope to incorporate before construction of the solar project began, but were not able to do so. Michael Pickens, spokesperson for Save Dike from Solar, advised the Commissioners Court and County Judge in July that the residents in opposition to the solar facility were working on the requirements to make Dike an incorporate area, so that Dike residents have a say in decision-making that impacts their community.
During the Aug. 15, 2022, Commissioners Court meeting, Kirk Reams read a letter asking County Judge Robert Newsom to order an incorporation election, and appoint two election judges, and publish or post notice of the election as required, in accordance with Chapter 8 of Texas Government Code Chapter. Reams then presented the letter, along with what he identified as signed petition and a map of the proposed area of Dike to be incorporated to the county judge.