LANDGRAF: Fighting for first responders

By State Rep. Brooks Landgraf

As we commemorate the 22th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11th, a day that forever changed our nation, we are reminded not only of the unbreakable spirit of America but also of the remarkable dedication and sacrifices made by our first responders. It is a day of profound significance, a day when we honor their courage and selfless commitment to protecting our communities. Coincidentally, September 11th is also celebrated as “Texas First Responders Day,” a fitting tribute to the heroes who stand ready to serve us in times of need.

On this day, we pause to remember those who rushed toward danger while others sought safety, those who put their lives on the line to save others. We salute our brave law enforcement officers and healthcare workers who have stood tall in the face of adversity. It’s a moment to express our deep gratitude for their selflessness, resilience, and dedication.

I also take this time to remember the sacrifices that some of our own have made. In January of 2022, Deputy Sheriff Lorin Readmond of Loving County tragically lost her life in the line of duty. She was en route to assist another deputy during a traffic stop when a fatal collision occurred. Deputy Readmond was not only a dedicated public servant but also a U.S. Navy Reserve veteran who exemplified the commitment to service and bravery that defines our first responders.

Deputy Readmond served with the Loving County Sheriff’s Office for almost three years and had previously served with the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office for over four years. Her sacrifice serves as a stark reminder of the risks our law enforcement officers face every day to keep our communities safe. They are the guardians of our communities, and it is our duty to ensure they have the support and resources they need to carry out their noble work.

In the Texas Legislature, I have been privileged to champion the causes of our first responders and bring meaningful results for them. For example, I proudly supported SB 22 to establish the Rural Sheriff’s Office Salary Assistance Grant Program and the Rural Prosecutor’s Office Salary Assistance Grant Program for counties with a population of 300,000 or less. The bill allows for increases in the salaries of sheriffs, prosecutors, and their staff and provides the ability to hire more staff, as well as aid in the purchasing of necessary vehicles, firearms, and safety equipment.

Improved roads also mean safer roads for our officers to drive on. That is one of the reasons I’ve continued to use my position on the House Transportation Committee to advocate for even more transportation funding in our region.

I’m proud to report TxDOT has invested well over $500 million for projects in the Odessa TxDOT district this year — the largest amount ever. And in August, the Texas Transportation Commission approved a 10-year plan that will send $4.3 billion to the Odessa district, the most ever by over $1 million. This includes funding to continue the complete rebuild of I-20, make safety improvements to SH 191, widen SH 302, and build and improve intersections and overpasses on Loop 338, including the interchange at US 385.

This funding will undoubtedly go a long way to improve the safety and quality of West Texas roads traveled by the first responders in our region and the citizens they protect. And it is important to note much of this funding comes thanks to severance taxes from oil and gas production in the Permian Basin.

God Bless Texas!