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Neve taken to hospital during session

Burnet Bulletin of Burnet, Texas

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Burnet County Commissioner Bill Neve, whose reputation for bombastic and sometimes confrontational behavior during commissioners court meetings is well known, ended up in Seton Highland Lakes Hospital after a contentious session Tuesday.

Neve; 63, was resting comfortably in a room at the hospital after complaining of chest pains and feeling disoriented during the morning meeting.

"I'm feeling okay," Neve said at about 2 p.m. "It actually started a couple of nights ago. I was totally disoriented and feeling chest pains and decided I was going to the emergency room."

Commissioners court coordinator Jeanne Emerson drove Neve to the hospital.

Burnet County Judge Donna Klaeger and the three other commissioners and others in the courtroom did not realize the extent of Neve's problem and carried on with the meeting.

The episode happened after Neve grew frustrated during a discussion after Big Chief RV Resort owner Alan Warren asked the commissioners to be allowed to increase the fee he can charge people to launch their boats from his boat ramp.

Neve clashed with Precinct 3 Commissioner Ron-ny Hibler who expressed opposition to allowing Warren to increase the launch fee from the $5 it has been for several years.

"What do we care what this man charges and how he chooses to run his business. No other business has to get our approval," said Neve, who nevertheless made a motion to allow Warren to increase the fee to $8.

The county has to approve the launch fee for Big Chief by virtue of language in a contract that dates back to owners of the property before Warren.

Neve's motion initially died for lack of a second, but Klaeger finally seconded it and called for a vote.

That appeared to irritate Precinct 2 Commissioner Russell Graeter, who seemed to be ready to vote in favor of the motion but wanted further discussion and expressed his displeasure with Klaeger for proceeding too quickly to the call to vote.

Neve, talking over Graeter, then insisted that there be no further discussion and that a vote be taken immediately.

As Hibler again appeared to begin to restate his opposition, Neve snapped, "That's because you're a fisherman and don't care about his (Warren's) business."

The argument about whether to proceed to a vote without further discussion continued, at which point Graeter said, "Fine, no!"

The formal vote was 3-2 against Neve's motion with Klaeger siding with him and Graeter, Hibler and Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery voting no.

The commissioners then took a recess and a visibly upset Neve left the room.

Shortly afterward, Emerson told a reporter she was driving the commissioner to the hospital.

Neve said a Seton doctor said he should stay in the hospital until Wednesday.

Prior to the Big Chief boat launch fee discussion, Neve also grew animated during a discussion that began as a request from Burnet businessman Vol Montgomery for $20,000 from the county's Hotel/Motel tax fund that grew to include complaints from Montgomery's neighbors.

Montgomery asked for the $20,000 to help defer expenses for the Texas Tactical Police Officers competition to be held at his Reveille Peak Ranch Sept. 18-24.

The competition will not be open to the public and the only people in attendance will be the competitors from Texas and other states and possibly one international team, Montgomery said.

But those competing will bring family members and friends with them who will stay at hotels and motels in the county for multiple nights, he said.

The commissioners expressed concern that Montgomery's request does not fit the criteria for being eligible for the Hotel/Motel tax funds because it does not qualify as a public event.

After verifying that it did not meet the requirements, the commissioners later voted, after Neve had departed, 4-0 to reject Montgomery's request.

After Montgomery made his request, two of his neighbors urged the commissioners to reject it.

"We have had a lot of problems with him," Michael Threadgill said.

In addition to staging heavily attended triathlon and other endurance-style events, Montgomery for the past several years has contracted with United State's military agencies to conduct exercises on his ranch that often involve loud explosions, low-flying helicopters and men in SWAT-style uniforms driving black SUVs and carrying military assault weapons swarming the countryside.

"They often put up barricades across public roads and prevent access to our property," Threadgill said. "The entire neighborhood is unhappy with him (Montgomery). He's kind of ruining that entire lake area out there."

Another neighbor, Jim Montgomery, began to list several of the same complaints before Klaeger said that the discussion was improper because the issue at hand was Vol Montgomery's application for the Hotel/Motel tax funds.

Neve said he has warned Vol Montgomery several times after getting reports that people participating in the training exercises had closed a gate across CR 115.

"I've told him not to do that and if they're still doing it I will have that gate torn down by the end of the week," Neve said.

After being cut off by Klaeger, Jim Montgomery said, "I am opposed to government money being used for Reville Peak Ranch."

Vol Montgomery left the meeting after he spoke and before his neighbors made their comments.

Also Tuesday, Klaeger said the Public Facility Corporation, the county-created private entity which oversees the operations of the Burnet County Jail, has lost another of its five directors and likely will lose another because of an inability to obtain risk insurance for them.

Directors James Oakley and Gene Ehler resigned from the board last week after Neve, who is chairman of the PFC board, said insurance could not be obtained for them.

Monday, board member Calvin Boyd, the Precinct 2 justice of the peace, also resigned for the same reason.

Neve said Tuesday he planned to resign from the PFC board Tuesday evening before having to go to the hospital and would do so Wednesday.

Klaeger and county auditor Karen Lester worked Monday to try to solve the insurance dilemma but said the PFC insurer said it would insure the corporation's directors only if it was given the county's other risk insurance business.

That was unacceptable, Klaeger said.

Burnet businessman Jim Fletcher, the only other PFC director, said he plans to remain on the board because he has sufficient personal insurance coverage.

"I don't know what the next steps are," said Klaeger, who planned to speak to the county's attorney and others involved in the PFC operation later Tuesday.

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Original Publication Date: July 9, 2014

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