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When the East Texas Council of Governments Executive Committee meets on Thursday, one of the agenda items is discussion of plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization.

The East Texas Council of Governments was established in 1970 as voluntary association of counties, cities, school districts and special districts within a fourteen-county East Texas region.

Henderson County 4th Precinct Commissioner Ken Geeslin represents the county on the executive committee. The county usually chooses its senior commissioner as the representative on the committee.

Wade McKinney served in that capacity before he became county judge in January.

ETCOG meetings are held at the headquarters in Kilgore.

A major role of the council is as a pass through organization. Funds coming from the state of Texas or the Federal Government are allocated to meet needs in the 14 counties served by ETCOG.

The 2020 ETCOG budget is $57,478,000. Of that, more than $39 million comes from the Federal Government and more than $9 million from the state. More than $35.7 is passed through to meet needs within the 14 counties.

ETCOG assists local governments in planning for common needs, coo perating for mutual benefit and coordinating for sound regional development. ETCOG and its contractors also build the 9-1-1 emergency call system, provide peace officer training and homeland security planning services; and deliver rural transportation services, business finance programs, grant writing services and environmental grant funding for the region.

In addition to the Henderson County, the cities of Athens, Brownsboro, Chandler, Eustace, Gun Barrel City, Mabank, Malakoff, Star Harbor, Tool and Trinidad are ETCOG member governments. Local school districts are also represented.

Another role of ETCOG is giving its counties a larger voice in important issues. Henderson County is one of 254 issues in the state, but has more clout as a member of one of the 24 regional councils in the state.

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