Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

March 13, 2013

Grant settles in as county commissioner

By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — There is no question about Jason Grant’s enthusiasm for his new job.

“I love it.”

Grant took office Jan. 1 as the newly elected Navarro County Commissioner of Precinct 1. Since then, its been nearly 90 days of non-stop work doing what he loves best — serving the public.

Grant, who left his 22-year career in law enforcement for his first run at elected office, reflected on the first three months of his new job in an interview Wednesday with the Daily Sun.

The transition, and the new role he serves in now, are much to his liking.

“Everyone’s been nice, and helpful, and patient,” he said. “It’s been a good experience.”

Grant got to work early on the educational aspects of his post, attending two conferences and a day-long educational seminar to prepare him for the world of working in government.

He attended a seminar for new county commissioners held by the Texas Association of Counties, and a workshop on the workings of the Texas Commissioners Court put on by the V.G. Young Institute of County Government and Texas AgriLife. Both opportunities have helped him in transitioning from law enforcement to county government.

“All of them have been fantastic schools,” Grant said.

One of the pleasant surprises, he says, has been the feedback he’s received since taking office — generally positive and supportive, he said.

“The biggest surprise is the amount of phone calls I’ve gotten that have said ‘thanks,’” he explained. “Everybody’s been very positive.”

One of Grant’s first projects, while taking advantage of some rainy days when road work wasn’t an option — was a clean-up of the Precinct 1 barn, on a highly-visible corner at 45th Street and State Highway 31.

“We hauled nine or 10 trailer loads of junk, burned a bunch of brush ... we cleaned up our precinct barn and made it look really nice,” he said. They are still working on eliminating the pile of tires at the location (although many have been removed already), and he’s improved the office area for his precinct workers to work on reports.

Still, his crews have spent plenty of time “on the road,” though, as has Grant.

He said since taking office they’ve put in several culverts, addressed some bridge concerns, and this week is wrapping up some asphalt work in the Chapel Hill area.

Grant is hoping in the next budget cycle he’ll be able to add some equipment to the precinct, including a backhoe and a dump trailer, both helpful in maintaining county roads.

He’s also made some changes in his crew structure, moving some part-time help to full time, giving him “more boots on the ground” to get projects done.

His boots are also “on the ground” more than they are in his courthouse office, he said.

“I really like being out in the barn and on the job site,” Grant said. “I get to talk to more people that way and address their concerns.

“I do a lot of ‘phone jockeying’ too,” he said, adding “it’s much nicer to talk to them on the side of the road or at their house.”

Grant said his fellow commissioners have been very helpful to him as well as he settled in to his new post, answering his questions and providing advice.

The work of county commissioner, as opposed to a police detective, is “different, but it still serves the public” he said. The change, though, has been good for him personally.

“I don’t miss (police work) one bit,” he said. “I’d much rather be called out at night to get a tree out of the road than a dead body.”

Grant encouraged his Precinct 1 constituents to “call me anytime” when they have a need or a question.

“I ran on the ticket of being service-minded and a strong work ethic,” he said. “Feel free to call to compliment or complain anytime.”

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Bob Belcher may be reached by email at bbelcher@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.