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The Henderson County Appraisal District told the Commissioners Court on Tuesday about the benefits of the Graphic Information System.

"It's not just pretty lines," HCAD Drafting Director Christy Turner said. "It is data at our fingertips."

The presentation was in reference to national GIS Day, Nov. 13.

"When requests are made by property owners or entities, we want to pull that date at a moment's notice," Turner said.

The system gives HCAD access to overhead pictures of all of the properties in the county, and detailed measurement of structures. The company providing the aerial imagery not only takes pictures from the top down, but at oblique angles showing the sides of the structures.

Turner gave some examples of when the GIS system had been vital in emergency situations in the county. On Feb. 10, 2016, the Appraisal District assisted the Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee, Henderson County Sheriff's Office, Texas Rangers and law enforcement from outside the county in a standoff with a man who had shot and wounded his neighbor.

"Due to the location, the law enforcement agencies were unsure as to who was having jurisdiction," Turner said.

The Henderson County Tactical Unit went to the scene, along with the Texas Rangers' Special Response Team, where they tried to persuade the shooter to come out of the residence. The standoff went on for several hours, before the suspect engaged law enforcement and was shot to death.

Another incident involved the fire at a warehouse that stored fertilizer in Athens, north of the city square.

"At the time County Judge Richard Sanders needed, immediately, a five mile radius of the area with all of the property owners and their properties," Turner said.

HCAD was able to quickly provide the information.

Turner said she and her team are constantly updating the records. The plan calls for new aerial pictures to be shot every three years. The schedule is to do fly over again in 2020.

"Each time, the data is better," Turner said.

The technology was introduced in the county when the state wanted the appraisal district to visit all of the rural properties for accurate agriculture valuations.

County Judge Wade McKinney said, the system has enabled HCAD to locate a $4 million residence that was not on the tax rolls.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin said GIS is a national issue.

"Collectively," Geeslin told Turner, "your team has done a marvelous job here in Henderson County to improve our mapping system and I couldn't be prouder."

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