Honestly, I don’t know what to believe any more about the Washington County budget and the Air Ambulance program.  The Spectator program on Monday and Tuesday was based on quotes from the County Judge, a County Commissioner, the EMS Director, and an independent auditor. Quotes that were taken directly from recorded audio by those folks.  Now, what I quoted is being called false, speculative and “Fake News” by those same people.  Elected officials calling their own words “Fake News”.  I’m inclined to believe they are right about that. 

As I said during Monday’s editorial, I am not against the Air Ambulance program.  All I want, and the public deserves, is for Judge Durrenberger, the County Commissioners, and EMS Director Kevin Deramus to tell us the real numbers for the program.  Don’t tell us that the only expense is what is paid to Metro Aviation for the helicopter and pilots.  I’m certain there are trained paramedics onboard those flights too.  Commissioner Candice Bullock says the total budget for the EMS Department in 2022 was $5.66 million.  This week the Commissioners Court approved a budget of $9.26 million for the EMS.  I guess costs are rising extremely fast as just a month ago Commissioner Kirk Hanath said the EMS budget was $8 million. 

During Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting, the public comment portion of the meeting was dominated by county officials blasting me for using their own words against them…saying that’s not the “true story”.  Even Deramus chose to do the same in a presentation to the Burton City Council, telling them I should have had a private meeting with them to learn the true numbers as I did before the program started.  Come on guys…I’m using the words and figures that you are giving to the public.  No wonder you just approved $100,000 for a Public Information Officer.  Not everyone gets to have a private meeting with you. Just come clean with the real numbers for the Air Ambulance program and the EMS Department.  That’s all I’m asking for…the “true story”.

At least that’s all I’m asking on the present subject.  Next week we’ll get into the cancelled contract for the approved security fence for the jail, the ongoing 3 year generator project for the county jail, and the new county justice center that has never been built.

And that’s the way it looks to this Spectator.

What’s your Reaction?


  1. If I remember correctly it was said that the air ambulance would not cost the county taxpayers a dime in the beginning

    1. It was but that was under Reach Air Medical

      The only non reimbursed expense was the No out of pocket membership which was -250k. Not chump change but for no out of pocket for all County residents it wasn’t bad.

      But after Reach took over the program after Deramus interference with everything Reach had to go. Consequences didn’t matter cause Reach had crossed a line.

      That was after Deramus ran off a bunch of the initial flight crews and multiple air managers.

  2. This seems to have a simple solution. Publicly release Mr. Crane’s audit and the 2022 and 2023 budget for the county line by line, including all the numbers for the helicopter and EMS budget. There is nothing in there the tax payers should not be able to see. After all, it’s our money they are spending. If the commission will not release the documents, how can the public not suspect they are hiding something?

  3. Time to drain the swamp!!!!!!!! There seems to be no accountability for these people.
    Citizens speak up. It’s our tax dollars that they are blowing it without our knowledge.

  4. Mr. Whitehead. You stay on them. You are doing your job to inform us. They are not. They were lying for years now. We back you not them. I personally want to thank you for your tireless efforts. They now seeing the people are waking up and the rats are in a trap.

  5. Guys & gals we might need to back off a bit. NOT! We may have to fly some of our elected county officials and the EMS director to have their hands looked at when they had the lid to the cookie jar slammed on them!

  6. I’m more than happy to see the leaders of this county in the hot seat! Thank you Spectator! I agree with all the post above as we continue to line their pockets with tax payer money! Our cost of living expenses are over the top with the cost of food, housing, electricity, fuel & Taxes! This system is broken as it only works for those who make the decisions for the rest of us!

  7. Is there an individual or group of people that would be interested in organizing a county-wide meeting, perhaps at the Fairgrounds, in order to publicly discuss how to control our County Judge and Commissioners. If we just let them continue their rampage of overspending, you can bet that we the citizens are doomed. We need to ACT !!! We just need someone to guide us in the right direction. Perhaps the Spectator can help us find the right person or group.

    1. Dear Alarmed,
      That is a sound idea which has some merit. Unfortunately, they can only be controlled in one way, vote them out and create a balanced court. As long as voters continue to choose from a single party who all have the same mindset and are beholding to the people who got them elected, nothing will change. The state house has been promising to fix all Texas problems for more than two decades and the majority of the problems still exist. Each election they promise, but don’t deliver. But yet we still make the same choices.
      Have that community meeting ( not at the Cannery Kitchen) and find new qualified people to replace them who have a record of public service. Not because they have money, or the right last name, or they know “ someone”. Create a balance of political factions to work together to create the best for all.

      1. exactly– “not the right last name”. It’s been going on like that for far too long.

  8. Thank you Spectator for your information . With all the money these jokers spend on frivolous stuff, why doesn”t the commissioners court authorize a private company to do a county wide mail in survey on each member of the court individually and as a whole court and let the results be a part of the courts regular public meeting presented to the court by a representative of that company. This would allow the court as well as the public to see what kind of a job these 5 people are doing These people are in it not for the people of the county but for themselves, the recent pay raise says it all . Remember this on election day regardless of promises made then . If they lie today they will lie tomorrow.

  9. Strong work Mr. Spectator. It’s refreshing to see the media holding elected officials accountable instead of carrying their water. Keep it up.

  10. Maybe the ones calling this “fake news” are the ones that we need to look at a little closer. The truth is there, all you have to do is request a FOIA report on anything the county does. Let’s look at some of the pay that is spread around the county officials and some of the employees.

  11. Well said spectator (aka uncle Jesse)! Way to put boss hog and his cronies (including deramus aka Rosco P. Coltrane) in their place!! I’m kinda like crazy Cooter, I might be crazy but I ain’t dumb!! Something isn’t right!!

    1. Yes we’re behind you. Can’t get an honest answer for anyone especially the judge. Apparently the EMS director is our King. We just haven’t been told the truth about that either. They all seem to bow down and give him anything he wants. The cash cow aka taxpayers have had enough. We didn’t get a big pay raise. Someone, anyone run against these jokers. We need someone who understands we don’t have millions of dollars in our pockets. We’d like to put money back for retirement, spend money to fix up our house, take our family on a nice vacation, etc. Instead we need every penny to pay taxes so the EMS King can get what he wants. By the way there is never money to fix our roads, but we have a multi million dollar facility.

  12. So I will be right back….. Going into the kitchen to make some popcorn to watch the commissioners crawfish on all these truths!!! Anyone need anything??!!

    Thank you spectator!!!!

    Come on Mr.Hanath!!! Please try and explain where the spectator is wrong…..

  13. Thank you spectator you must be over the target thus the push back! We have the most ridiculous budget in the state for EMS service for a county of 33 thousand and its in your grill. There is absolutely no need for a county run air bus ambulance service in Washington County. In fact the whole bunch needs to be gutted and put back in a reasonable affordable compliance. We the taxpayers have been told and sold a lie. Medicare has been on to the air bus scam for sometime now and they are reluctant to pay for the 40 thousand dollar ride as the insurance companies too. Kevin needs to go he is unelected and we can not afford to keep him employed in this county. Walker County does not spend what we spend and its more than twice the size of Washington County and they have an interstate highway and a college. Its wasteful spending pure and simple and needs to come to an end now.

    1. Also Walker County is not only home to a major university and interstate, but also headquarters for the prison system TDCJ where the county holds over half a dozen prison units . Keep comparing the budget of Washington Co. EMS to other counties in the hundred mile radius. The helicopter is wonderful but expensive and those true costs must be revealed in the actual operational budget.

      Thank you to Spectator for keeping the taxpayers and journalism a priority.

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