Runnels County Clerk Julia Miller selected as next Runnels County Judge. Current judge, Barry Hilliard, retires on May 31.

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register
Runnels County Clerk Julia Miller was selected by the Commissioners Court to replace retiring County Judge Barry Hilliard.

RUNNELS COUNTY, TX- Runnels County judge Barry Hilliard handed in his retirement letter in April. Hilliard's replacement, selected 3-2 by the commissioners court on May 25, is Runnels County Clerk Julia Miller.

The Commissioners Court interviewed the 6 applicants on May 18. The applicants were Tim Timmerman, Renne' Fulton, Ryan Lange, Cindy Winchester, Julia Miller and John Glass. It was fairly clear that the two front-runners were Miller and Timmerman. One of the key questions asked of each applicant was if they were selected, would they run for reelection in the primary. The majority of the applicants said that they would run in the next election. Timmerman has experience as a deputy prior to spending the last 18 years as the juvenile probation officer. Miller has been with the county since the day Hilliard was elected.

The commissioners took a week before selecting Hilliard's replacement. During the May 25 meeting, Juan Ornelas, commissioner of precinct 4, made a motion to select Timmerman as the new county judge. The motion was seconded by precinct 1 commissioner Carl King. In nominating Timmerman, Ornelas said that he'd "like Julia Miller to remain as County Clerk." The nomination was shot down, 3-2, when Hilliard, as well as commissioners Brandon Poehls (precinct 3) and Ronald Presley (precinct 2) voted against it.

Runnels County Clerk Julia Miller and Runnels County Judge Barry Hilliard share a moment after Miller was selected by the Commissioners Court to replace retiring Runnels County Judge Barry Hilliard.

A few moments later, Presley made a motion for Miller's selection. The motion was seconded by Poehls. The nomination passed, 3-2. Hilliard, Poehls and Presley voted in favor of the nomination, while King and Ornelas voted against the nomination.

Hilliard has been the Runnels County Judge since January 1, 2011. His decade in office has been well enshrined in conservative and consistent management of the county budget. The jail, alone, taps the county budget for over $1.3 million. While commissioners have come and gone, Hilliard has remained steadfast in his commitment to operating within the budget, discussing at length any proposed budget amendments. The relationship between judge and commissioners has been one of mutual respect since Hilliard's first day in office.

Officially, Hilliard's last day will be May 31st. He will remain to help transition the new judge into the role. Miller brings a great deal of experience and familiarity to the position due to her decade working for the court and as county clerk.

Meals on Wheels Plus, Inc., presents award to Hilliard

Betty Bradley, executive director of Meals on Wheels Plus, Inc., in Abilene presents an award to judge Barry Hilliard for his continued support of the program that brings meals to the elderly in Runnels County.

Betty Bradley, executive director of Meals on Wheels Plus, Inc., presented Hilliard with an award for his efforts in helping to bring meals to the elderly of Runnels County, "Years ago the county decided that they could no longer afford the meals program. A pastor from Winters contacted me and asked if we could expand to Winters. I went to a meeting with that pastor group in Winters and Barry was there. He's always been very supportive of the program. He spoke with a friend of his who is a musician and asked if he'd play a benefit concert. We've had 3 events since then at the parish hall in Rowena. Barry has always supported the program. I've never had a judge as supportive as judge Hilliard."

The award presented to retiring County Judge Barry Hilliard by Betty Bradley, executive director of Meals on Wheels Plus, Inc., in Abilene.

Hilliard accepted the star-shaped award that was inscribed with JUDGE BARRY HILLIARD SERVANT LEADER Meals on Wheels Plus, Inc. 2016-2021.

In other Commissioners Court news

The commissioners and judge voted 5-0 to move $2,700 from "conference expense" to "office expense." The reason for the move is to cover the cost of the new computer for the judge's judicial assistant, Chrissy Gosdin. The county had budgeted for the computer and system, but the budget was below the final cost.

County Auditor, Cindy Winchester, stated that the sales tax revenue was "really good." Hilliard agreed, stating, "It's scary good."

Brandon Poehls asked for a budget amendment to move $4000 from one department to equipment so that he could purchase a new shredder for his precinct. King also asked for a budget amendment to move $2,500 from "machine operators" to "salaried part time." Both amendments were passed.

The county unsealed several sealed bids for property around the county. There was 1 property in Miles, 2 vacant lots in Winters, 1 property in Ballinger at 708 N. 10th Street and another property off of FM 2887. The bids were approved.

Miller asked for the court to approve restoration of a JP docket book discovered during work at the sheriff's office. The docket runs from 1893-1896. Miller said that the book consists of 320 pages and needs to be restored, "I think it's something valuable that we need to protect," Miller told the court. The County Clerk's office has restoration projects budgeted every year, thus there was already money for the project. She only needed Commissioners Court approval. The cost to restore that piece of Runnels County history is estimated at $2,650.

Names were drawn by Hilliard for the 2021 Salary Grievance Committee. Some of the names drawn were Mark Halfmann, Martha Pinckney, Lora Sellers, Patricia Okane and Diane Miree, along with 4 others.