Ken Geeslin, Henderson County's senior member of the Commissioners Court died at a Dallas hospital on Tuesday after an illness.
The Ohio native, who had served as Precinct 4 Commissioner since 2011, was 71.
"He was a good friend and will be missed," County Judge Wade McKinney said.
With County Judge Wade McKinney assuming the duties of County Judge, Geeslin, began his third term as the longest tenured of the four Commissioners and also became the county's representative on the East Texas Council of Governments.
McKinney the said county has benefitted for the past eight years from Geeslin's expertise gained during his military service. It proved invaluable in the search for a new communications system, selected by the county in the summer. Geeslin chaired the committee that did much of the legwork during the search.
"This is not to say that the current program doesn't work, but the new program will be a lot better," Geeslin said at the time.
McKinney said Geeslin also watched county dollars on smaller items, such as water bills and even the sprinklers at the courthouse.
"He realized that all of those things add up," McKinney said.
In 2018, Geeslin helped the owner of Pierce Creek Station in Larue get a crossover from the eastbound lanes of U.S. 175 after TxDOT's original plans did not include one.
"They have established a bulk feed facility there with the scales," Geeslin said. "So, you're going to have a lot of ranchers coming in with trailers getting bulk cubes from this facility. They, too, are going to have to do the same U-turn."
During his time in office, Geeslin was constantly upgrading the Precinct 2 headquarters in LaRue to help his crew better keep up the more than 242 miles of roadway in his care.
With the county budget tight, Geeslin knew the improvements would take some imagination, hard work, and a knack for finding a good deal on a needed piece of equipment here and there.
“It’s a balancing act,” Geeslin said. “We’ve been trying to improve things here, but we also have to make sure the roads are maintained.”
One of the first changes was to put a concrete floor in the Precinct 4 garage. Geeslin also upgraded the vehicles used in the repairs.
Major changes were also done at the precinct dump. The drive up to the place where the trash is unloaded was and a new wall was built beside the dumpster. Geeslin said it was built from concrete blocks used along highways as retaining walls.
Geeslin was also able to find a new office building for the attendant who takes payments from those who come to dump trash at a bargain price. The building had been bought by the Federal Emergency Management Agency during floods in Missouri. Geeslin found it, unused, for $5,500. Geeslin said utility costs are down bout 75 percent from the old building.
In July, 2011, the precinct began offering Single Stream Recycling, free-of-charge to citizens who separate all the recyclable materials from the other trash they bring to the dump.
Geeslin's first attempt at Henderson County office was in 2006, when he lost a bid to unseat Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry West. Geeslin won the seat in 2010, and was re-elected in 2014. He took the 2018 GOP primary, winning over Kelly Harris by 1,819 votes to 1,227.
"I want to thank all of the voters in Precinct 4 for their confidence in what we've accomplished over the last seven years, Geeslin said in his victory statement. "I'd like to say a special thanks to my wife, Katherine, for all of the support and hard work she's been doing putting up signs and campaigning for me."