Outgoing Burnet, Llano county judges reflect on service

CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF

Burnet County Judge Donna Klaeger, the first female judge for the county, presided over her last commissioner's court meeting Dec. 16. She is one of two local administrative judges who did not run for re-election. Pictured with Klaeger (center) are commissioners Bill Neve, Russell Graeter, Ronnie Hibler and Joe Don Dockery. Courtesy photo

Burnet County Judge Donna Klaeger (second from left), the first female judge for the county, presided over her last commissioner’s court meeting Dec. 16. She is one of two local administrative judges who did not run for re-election. Pictured with Klaeger are commissioners Russell Graeter, Ronnie Hibler and Joe Don Dockery. Courtesy photos

BURNET — Two county judges who preside on commissioner’s and county court-at-law benches reflected on the successes of their tenures as they prepare to turn over the reigns to their replacements Jan. 1.

Burnet County Judge Donna Klaeger and Llano County Judge Wayne Brascom both decided not to run for a third term and have spent their last days laying the groundwork for new judges.

Klaeger presided over her last commissioner’s court meeting Dec. 16. She reflected on her service as well as her decision to embark on a new career.

“It’s bittersweet. I’m ready to go, ready to retire to handle some consulting work,” she said. “The last few weeks have been harder than I expected, saying goodbye during meetings.”

Klaeger, the Burnet County’s first female county judge, served for two terms as an administrative judge after being sworn in Jan. 1, 2007. Before that, she served two terms or eight years as county treasurer.

Llano County Judge Wayne Brascom will preside over his last commissioner's court Dec. 23 after two terms in office. He is being replaced by Mary Cunningham, the county's first female court-at-law and administrative judge.

Llano County Judge Wayne Brascom will preside over his last commissioner’s court Dec. 22 after two terms in office. He is being replaced by Mary Cunningham, the county’s first female court-at-law and administrative judge.

During her tenure as judge, Klaeger also handled some criminal misdemeanor court cases.

She said she leaves the county with a positive outlook for the future.

“The highlight is that (the county) will be debt-free in 2016,” she said. “I can’t say enough about how the commissioner’s court and the elected officials, the surrounding counties and cities have worked together to do a transportation plan, a strategic plan, our water infrastructure plan.”

Other accomplishments include an updated emergency management plan and lending her voice as an advocate for the county on drought and water issues for the upper Highland Lakes before the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Burnet County judge-elect James Oakley will step into the position Jan. 1.

“I wish him the best, and he has everything it takes to be successful,” Klaeger said.

Brascom, who also served as a court-at-law judge, will preside over his last commissioner’s court Dec. 22. He will be replaced by Llano County Judge-elect Mary Cunningham, the county’s first female county judge.

“I think she will do a great job as county judge,” he said

He complimented the cooperation of county employees, the commissioners, business leaders, municipalities and agencies to craft a strong fiscal outlook for the county.

“We have a great collection rate on our taxes. I think our county is in good financial shape,” he said. “We have one of the lowest tax rates in the state. I would assume that will continue.”

Achievements include an upgraded emergency management tower tied into the greater Austin system; several technological updates to the criminal and civil courts; work with the Texas Department of Transportation to improve roads and bridges; and the transition of the Llano County Hospital Authority to the private ownership of Baylor Scott & White Healthcare System.

“I think we did achieve a number of goals from when I began as county judge eight years ago,” he said. “I am very proud to have served the citizens of Llano County.”

Both judges served on a number of agency boards, including the Capital Area Council of Governments, the Capital Area Rural Transportation Planning Organization and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

connie@thepicayune.com

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