Wood County Pct. 2 Commissioner Jerry Gaskill has announced his intention to seek his fifth term serving the citizens of the county.
Gaskill began serving as Wood County commissioner in 2003 upon the retirement of Kenneth Wilson. He had worked his way up from laborer to supervisor and then was given Wilson’s endorsement when he ran for commissioner. Upon the retirement of Pct. 3’s Roger Pace last year, Gaskill is now the senior commissioner on the court and at times has conducted the commissioners’ court sessions when the county judge is unavailable.
Over the years, Gaskill has learned it is important to “always try to work with the citizens.” He said that even if their requests are not something he can do, he will take them under consideration and go to the location and look at it before making a decision.
“My number one thing is just to always listen to the taxpayers and what their concerns are. Because when you get in the mode of thinking you know it, all it’s time you should get off,” the court, he said.
The Pct. 2 commissioner has gained a reputation for his willingness to cooperate with interlocal agreements with the other governmental entities such as the city and school district to help with road work. Gaskill is willing to help when he can, he says, because those same citizens who are in the school district and city, also pay county taxes. He points out that Pct. 2 is the smallest precinct in the county, and he doesn’t mind that, even though he gets less money. There are fewer roads to have to maintain and “I like it that way,” he says with a grin.
As far as maintaining of the county’s roads, Gaskill said normally three months are spent each summer building, rebuilding or maintaining. But this summer, due to the amount of rain, his crews got half as much road work done as they usually do – until September. This is the second year the crews have been able to continue work into that month which was dry this year.
“I do feel good about our infrastructure of Pct. 2,” he said. He said he doesn’t know of any road left in his precinct in the county that he hasn’t gone on and done at least some kind of work. He said his crews’ road working process has advanced over the years.
Pct. 2’s commissioners said that he and his fellow commissioners work together sharing their equipment when possible as well as helping with work when needed.
“It’s a twofold job,” Gaskill said of serving as a county commissioner, continuing that involves taking care of the precinct he represents and to make decisions that benefit the entire county. He noted none of the county’s commissioners work other jobs and in addition to attending their twice monthly session “we’re on our jobs every day.”
Road work is not all that the county commissioner oversees, although it is definitely an area he knows from the ground up. As far as the county’s financial status, Gaskill said, “I feel real good about our county as far as finances. We’re not in debt. I look at other counties and I’m thankful we live in a good place.”
Gaskill also said that “Our commissioners court works well together.” One of the efforts with which Gaskill is very involved is the Friends of Lake Holbrook Fish Fry that was recently held. He noted that all of the other three precinct commissioners attended, supporting the event at the lake.
Gaskill makes maintaining Lake Holbrook a regular part of his crews’ routine twice a week and the lake conditions have improved steadily over the years. One of the most recent improvements was the planting of about 30 cypress trees around its banks to help prevent erosion. He is grateful for the help from the people who support the lake, Friends of Lake Holbrook, and says that the money raised from their annual event helps meet expenses that don’t have to come out of the county budget.
Lake Holbrook, as well as Lake Quitman, Lake Hawkins and Lake Winnsboro are assets in this county commissioner’s eyes.
“We’re the only county in the state that has four of its own lakes,” he said. He noted they were built for recreation and flood control, and he said that keeping access to the Lake Holbrook beach free to the public is important for families. The area around what is known as the Golden boat ramp has evolved and now has a park-like atmosphere with picnic tables and grills.
“It’s looking more like a family-oriented place,” he said of the lake overall. The public has bought in to the ownership, and he even receives calls now from people who report when they see someone damaging things there.
Gaskill also represented Wood County on the regional water development board for this area until the term limits would no longer allow him to serve on it.
The county commissioner is a member of the Mineola Kiwanis Club is one of the small army who do the physical work for their popular flag subscription service. Gaskill has a route on which he is responsible for putting the American flags out and then picking them back up after the holiday is over and transporting those to storage.
Aside from serving the county, Gaskill said he loves living in the country where he does, being just four or five minutes from Mineola “where I can get just about anything I want. That’s hard to beat.”
He and his wife Hope have four adult children, Jer-Ray, Haley, Hannah and Heidi and have given a home to and adopted five more children. Gaskill enjoys fishing and he and his family are long-time members at Sand Springs Baptist Church.