2018-05-16 / Front Page

Safety director proposal debated; heated discussion at meeting

BY ALLEN ESSEX
Reporter


LYFORD CITY COMMISSIONERS ALBERT CAVAZOS, left; Maggie Quilantan; and Rick Salinas take the oath of office from Willacy County Judge Aurelio “Keter” Guerra. 
(Photo by Allen Essex) LYFORD CITY COMMISSIONERS ALBERT CAVAZOS, left; Maggie Quilantan; and Rick Salinas take the oath of office from Willacy County Judge Aurelio “Keter” Guerra. (Photo by Allen Essex) Tempers flared Monday night during a Lyford city meeting as a proposal to elevate Police Chief Andy Maldonado to public safety director was addressed. The new title would also give him authority over the fire department.

Commissioner Rick Salinas said a proposed job de- scription for the new position includes many duties, perhaps too many extra responsibilities. Having to perform police duties such as patrolling, going on fire calls and taking on new chores such as code inspection and fulfilling requirements of the Federal Emergency Management Agency might be too much for one person.

Maldonado bristled at the mention of patrolling. “I don’t have time to patrol. If you would like to see the reports, grant paperwork and other stuff I have to do, you’re welcome to look at it.”


LYFORD MAYOR PRO TEM TONY CHAVEZ receives his oath of office from Willacy County Judge Aurelio “Keter” Guerra. 
(Photo by Allen Essex) LYFORD MAYOR PRO TEM TONY CHAVEZ receives his oath of office from Willacy County Judge Aurelio “Keter” Guerra. (Photo by Allen Essex) Maldonado pointed out he would not be serving as a firefighter. “I would just be tak- on the fire department to help out, I’m not going to be fire chief. It has more to do with grant (applications), reports and things they don’t have time to do.”

He was not asking for additional pay for taking on the extra duties, Maldonado said.

“The fire chief and firefighters don’t have time to do lots of paperwork and recordkeeping,” Maldonado said. “These guys have jobs, too,” he said of their regular employment. Handling fire calls and maintaining their trucks and equipment takes a lot of time.

Fire Chief Gerald Cantu said he would welcome Maldonado’s leadership and assistance in getting funding for equipment and handling paperwork.

Commissioners tabled the proposal to promote Maldonado until the next meeting.

Mayor Jose G. “Wally” Solis and Maldonado have clashed in the past over the chief’s job duties. Solis complains that Maldonado is often in Raymondville in a city car, not patrolling in Lyford.

“He wants to get employed and be paid,” Solis said Tuesday. Maldonado does assist other police agencies when requested, commissioners said.

As police chief, Maldonado does need to go to the sheriff’s office and courthouse.

Solis said a town the size of Lyford with only three police officers can’t afford to have one who doesn’t patrol.

A retired Texas Department of Public Safety trooper, Maldonado is paid by Lyford $47,000 a year plus benefits, in addition to his state retirement, the mayor said.

During the Monday meeting, Solis said he had spoken to Rio Hondo Public Safety Director William Bilokury, who said he does police patrols and goes on fire calls as well as paperwork and attend meetings.

In other business, four city commissioners who were just reelected, were sworn in for new terms by Willacy County Judge Aurelio “Keter” Guerra. The commissioners are: Mayor Pro-tem Tony Chavez, Albert Cavazos, Maggie Quilantan and Rick Salinas.

The mayor and Commissioner Pablo Morales will be up for reelection in the next term, if they choose to run. Jesse Castaneda ran for commissioner in this month’s election but the top four vote-getters were the four incumbents, Chavez, Cavazos, Quilantan and Salinas. IN OTHER BUSINESS:

Commissioners discussed the need to educate people who apply for the federally funded HOME program, which replaces dilapidated houses with new ones, about the many requirements of the program in order for them to qualify for a new house. Flood insurance, windstorm regulations and other city and state rules must be followed by contractors, who also must use city trash bins and obtain all required permits.

Police Chief Maldonado explained plans for a June 13 hurricane awareness program at City Hall.

Commissioners also discussed details of placing additional speed bumps and stop signs around the city.

Improvements and costs of the new Central Park project were reviewed.

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