2009-06-10 / Front Page

County to remodel old jail for office space & spend $32,500 to patch courthouse roof

Pct. 2 Commissioner Edrasmo "Eddie" Chapa told commissi-oners Monday about plans to remodel the old jail across the street from the courthouse and turn it into office space for the county and for rent to the public.

Interim Judge Aurelio "Keeter" Guerra cal1ed the idea "an investment for the county rather than letting the building sit there and deteriorate. We don't foresee a lot of expense and we can use the building to move our offices while we remodel the courth-ouse."

He said the roof of the courthouse leaked badly during the last rain storm.

Guerra said, "We need to repair the courthouse roof on an emergency basis. Rain leaked into the second floor district courtroom, he said, in addition to seeping into the basement.

County Attorney Bernard Ammerman advised that the project should be advertised if it is going to cost more than $25,000 unless "it is truly an emergency."

Ammerman said there is "a hole in the roof that causes the water to go right down the stairwell."

Guerra said, "I can't see it as anything but an emergency." He said he got an estimate of $32,500 to do a temporary fix good for maybe two years. Veteran Commissioner Alfredo "Fred" Serrato explained, "The roof is very old, the wall is higher than the roof and you always have standing water. It loosens the asphalt. At some point we are going to have to go with a different type of roof."

County auditor Ida Martinez said it would take three weeks to advertise and accept bids. Commissioners decided to go ahead with temporary repairs.

Commissioners decided to do without bids on an emergency basis and Paul Garza roofing company of Brownsville will do the job , according to Martinez.

IN OTHER BUSINESS:

Manuel "Manny" Armenta of Port Mansfield told commissioners that he is the new owner of the Port Mansfield Marina and he is in favor of closing the dedicated road that crosses his property.

"I am investing a lot of money and a lot of traffic and potential business is passing me by," he said.

The county has twice tabled the question of closing three unused roads in Port Mansfield, as proposed by the Willacy County Navigation District. Guerra promised Armenta, "We will expedite it,"(the vote on the issue')

Commissioners agreed to apply for a $68,700 Criminal Justice Grant to provide equipment for the Sheriff's Dept. There is no matching requirement.

Dowson Geophysical was given permission to do seismic testing north of FM490 during the coming six weeks.

Wagner Oil Company got the okay to put concrete pipe under county roads #2800 and #155.

Representatives of EON Corp. told commissioners they are interested in building a wind farm in the county and are hoping that tax abatements will be forthcoming.

"We are bringing a significant investment," one said.

William "Bill" Rusteberg of Brownsville was hired as an insurance consultant at $1,200 monthly to seek competitive bids for the county health care insurance policy, which is up for renewal on Oct. 1.

"This opens the door for different opinions, maybe we can spend less for insurance," said Judge Guerra.

Commissioner Chapa said, "I've been looking at a self funded program and checking with other counties that have made the change.

Rusteberg will work monthto month and either party can end the agreement with 30 days notice.

The county turned down an offer of $2,301.28 for a house and four lots, tax delinquent since 1984. The property was offered twice at tax sales with no offers, although it was once valued at $47,000. Taxes owed total $14,154.52.

The property is in Linda Vista subdividion and is known as Tax ID#R17857.

The offer represented 16¢ on the dollar owed the county.

"I recommed we reject this offer and get more people involved, said Chapa.

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