2009-03-04 / Front Page

Sheriff authorized to buy 2 new patrol cars

Willacy County deputies will soon be patroling in style with the approval Monday of two new patrol cars at the State bid price, paying for them with budgeted funds.

Sheriff Larry Spence explained to commissioners that he is trying to get rid of old high mileage vehicles and replace them with new ones.

Spence said he recently got three new pickups from the Texas Border Coalition and expects to get three more from the governor's office.

"We used to buy cars regularly but for the past five years we didn't buy any new cars. We got two old ones from Kenedy County for a dollar apiece."

Interim judge Aurelio "Keeter" Guerra supported Spence.

"If you are in need to bring your dept. up to par, bring it to the commissioners court. I'm in favor."

In reply to a question from Pct. 3 Commissioner Alfredo "Fred" Serrato, Spence said he has about 16 vehicles, eight or nine patrol cars, two each for the investigators, civil processors and the chief deputy and himself, plus two jail vans."

Serrato suggested buying three new vehicles each year. That way if you have nine patrol cars you will be able to get a tradein," rather than waiting until they are too old and have too many miles to trade.

Tabled to be decided at a special meeting on Friday was a request by the sheriff that his deputies who live within 15 miles of the county line be allowed to take their cars home with them. This might apply for instance to a deputy living in Harlingen.

Spence said this will require an exception to the county policy and that if approved the vehicles will be used to travel to and from work only.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Eddie Chapa said that he has contacted the Texas Assoc. of Counties (TAC) the county insurance provider to see if the vehicles will be covered under the county policy when they are parked outside the county, but he had not yet gotten a reply.

Keeter Guerra said, "There are pros and cons, when people see them parked in a neighborhood it prevents crime, even though it may be outside the county. Crime is crime. And, it will be an incentive to make up for low wages."

No decision was made.

The Sheriff announced the resignation of jailer Maria Davis and he has hired a replacement from his pool of applicants at the rate of $22,000. The new jailer, Juan Carlos Lopez.

Spence got approval to get prices on eight radios for the jail for in house communication only, giving the jailers privacy and preventing inmates from overh- earing conversations.

Lastly, the sheriff asked for a phone allowance for himself, his chief deputy, two investigators and sergeants.

County auditor Ida Martinez said the matter should be brought up at budget time unless the money comes from the drug seizure fund, or another budget item.

Commissioner Chapa's motion to allow $50.00 monthly to the above mentioned officers was approved.


Frank Torres was appointed County Fire Marshall so that he can enforce the county burn ban advertised in this newspaper. Torres is also Raymondville Voluntee Fire Chief and head of the EMS.

The Pct. 2 Constable was authorized to trade in his 1996 Ford Explorer with 180,000 miles on a vehicle he is planning to buy.

Pct. 1 Commissioner Eliberto Guerra got approval to hire Abraham Villarreal a sanitation worker, and heavy equipment operator.

Lasara Volunteer Fire Dept. will buy two oxygen tanks and masks at a cost of $900 to $1,200 for use in structure fires.

Pct. 3 employee Ambroso Mata resigned and Commissioner Serrato said he will hire from his pool of applicants.

A motion to ask TXDOT to provide directional signs to the local detention facilities was approved, after Commissioner Keeter Guerra said he has been asked several times by visitors how to get to the prisons.

"That way they can look around and see what we have, that's where we are getting most of our money," he quipped.

Guerra also wants a sign identifying the county courthouse.

Commissioner Serrato said he wants to see speed limit signs around the jail complex. If they are in the city limits the city would have to put them up another commissioner suggested.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Chapa was given the okay to begin the process of buying a backhoe.

Commissioners voted to sign an agreement with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Commission to improve the roads to the two refuges located in the county to make them more accessible to the public.

Finally, commissioners appro- ved a recommendation from Auditor Ida Martinez to buy $100,000 insurance police for all employes not required to post bond. The insurance will have a $5,000 deductible in each case of theft or misappropriation of county money.

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