County officials took their turn in the spotlight Friday during the legislative luncheon series hosted by the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce.
District Judge Dennis Morris and Special Judge Thomas Baldwin, along with Carter County commissioners Joe David McReynolds and Dale Ott, each addressed those in attendance and took turns answering questions.
Morris outlined his position as District Judge and the responsibilities that go along with it. Splitting cases with Associate District Judge Lee Card, Morris said he is in charge of the district budget and splits half of the misdemeanor cases and felony cases with Card. He also takes all of the deprived juvenile cases and specializes in other sorts of cases.
“I take all the oil and gas cases because of my background, and I get to hear all the medical malpractice cases,” Morris said.
Of the deprived juvenile cases, Morris termed them emotional in determining the future of a family and children. He also said there are more than 150 active deprived cases and 250 children in the system in Ardmore.
Baldwin also described his duties as a special judge. He discussed the role of a judge in that they do not give out opinions and are left to work off the facts of a particular case. As special judge, he advises those before him of their constitutional rights, sets bail and a court date.
“We see 2,200 people a year, although some of them have multiple events,” Baldwin said. Baldwin also discussed the bail procedure, noting it is meant to ensure against a flight risk rather than as a punishment. He said there are a fair share of people who do not show up for court with a number of varying excuses, but typically there might only be one person a year that attempts to flee.
McReynolds discussed his first year in office and said it had been a blessing serving as the District 1 Commissioner.
“I’ve been more blessed this past year than in my entire life,” McReynolds said. “Thank you all for electing me to do the job.”
McReynolds explained the position of commissioner often deals with fundraising as he finds himself talking to the chamber, legislative leaders and the Chickasaw Nation.
“Every cent they give is another we can use on roads,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I’m doing everything I said I would when I got in office. My door is always open if you ever need to talk to me.”
Ott discussed the role of commissioners in dispersing county general funds and ad valorem funds. Both Ott and McReynolds highlighted XTO’s generosity in providing funds for road repair. Ott also talked about the strides the county has taken during his tenure.
“When I first started, we had five dump trucks, and one of them turned over because the brake lines were cut,” Ott said. “It has taken several years to get the roads in shape and the equipment in shape.
“We have been able to do a lot, and we appreciate you guys.”