It was an emotional meeting Dec. 27 as Austin County commissioners met for the first time since Precinct 4 Commissioner Doug King died tragically in an on-the-job accident just 10 days prior.
“We normally ask you for wisdom and understanding to help us make decisions,” County Judge Tim Lapham said in the opening prayer. “There are some things we just can’t understand. We just have to trust your guidance and your judgment. There’s been some sad days here. Last week you took one of our brothers … We can’t expect to understand that. Lord, you needed him more than we did. His job here was done.”
King’s seat was filled by Chip Reed, who has served as Precinct 4 foreman for 18 years and was on site with the late commissioner when two moving pieces of equipment closed in on King while conducting repairs.
“It was a huge loss,” Reed said.
While Reed did not participate during any votes at the Dec. 27 meeting, he sat alongside the commissioners to gather information and said he is interested in holding the commissioner’s seat permanently. King, 49, had recently been re-elected to a third term, running unopposed.
Lapham said he plans to research the process of appointing a new commissioner and expects he will be able to provide more information at the next meeting of Commissioners Court.
Commissioners appeared comfortable working alongside Reed during the most recent meeting.
“We’ve thrown him out of the frying pan and into the fire,” Lapham said.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Mark Lamp, whose in-laws Bernice and Aldon Schiller were murdered in the Racoon Bend Murders of 1996 and 20-year-old daughter Alyssa was killed by a drunk driver 10 years ago, couldn’t hold back the emotion when describing how he heard of King’s passing.
“It brings me to tears every time I talk about it,” Lamp said. “We’re going to dearly miss him. He has three kids who are just precious. Doug was for everybody, not just the county but the Boy Scouts and the [Knights of Columbus]. This county is going to miss him.”
King’s wife Lori preceded him in death just three years ago. The couple has three children: Marisa, 13, Racy, 12, and Symantha, 9.
“I worry about the children,” Lamp said. “I hope this community takes care of them.”
By all accounts that’s already in motion. Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Rinn, who worked alongside King for eight years, noted the late county official’s love for his children.
“He was a very supportive father to his kids,” Rinn said. “He was there for the people. He was always willing to help the other precincts. He’s going to be missed greatly not only by his family but by the whole county.”
Precinct 3 Commissioner Randy Reichardt said moving forward without King by his side – literally; the two sat shoulder to shoulder at every meeting – will be difficult.
“I’m going to miss him,” Reichardt said. “We were compadres. Being killed in the workplace surrounded by your people … it doesn’t make sense. You either believe in God and you trust Him or you don’t. Life doesn’t make sense.”
A full obituary for Commissioner King appears on page 2 of this edition of The Sealy News.