FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2014
Austin, TX - Today, Senator Robert Nichols and Representative John Otto applauded the actions of the Office of Violent Sexual Offender Management (OVSOM) and their decision to terminate the contract with GMW & Associates to construct a transitional center for high-risk, violent sex offenders in Liberty County.
"I am pleased with the decision to terminate the contract with GMW,'' said Nichols. "There is no doubt this is an issue the State must address, however, it should not be at the cost or safety of the citizens in Liberty County. This facility would create a burden for a rural county with limited resources, as well as create unnecessary anxiety for families living nearby."
Liberty County expressed concern that the county is not logistically capable of handling a transitional home such as this. The Liberty County Commissioners Court passed a resolution on April 22, 2014 opposing the facility, citing it would create additional strain on the county's mental health services, transportation system and Indigent Healthcare Program. The resolution also expressed concern for the safety of the citizens living in the county.
"I would like to thank the Governor's office, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Comptroller's office for assisting Senator Nichols and me in arriving at the right solution to this situation," said Otto. "The Legislature needs to address this issue in the upcoming session so that a solution is arrived at with an open and transparent process."
All parties concerned, including community leaders, state and local officials, were not given notice of this pending contract. Previously, the OVSOM cited a provision of law, which it claims, exempted the agency from holding a public hearing regarding the location of the facility.
"I believe the community should have been notified in advance of the contract being awarded," said Nichols. "Representative Otto and I want to ensure this does not happen in the future and will work on legislation requiring public notice in any future placement of transitional homes."
Nichols and Otto will continue to monitor the issue and maintain their work in representing the interests of those in East Texas.
"Most importantly, I would like to thank the citizens of Liberty County who contacted our offices and spoke for the community through petitions and town hall meetings," said Otto. "Ultimately, this is about ensuring the needs of the community are protected."