Bee County agencies asks Congress for $43 million to stimulate economy
by Scott Reese Willey
Feb 18, 2009 | 1531 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Civic leaders in Bee County compiled wish lists of projects they would like to see the federal government fund with the proposed $787 billion economic stimulus package.

The people who run the City of Beeville, Bee County, Bee Development Authority and Bee County Sheriff’s Office submitted wish lists totalling almost $43 million.

They gathered at the county courthouse on Tuesday to discuss the wish lists.

The lists of projects will be forwarded to the office of U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, which is to forward it to the proper committee charged with parceling out the economic stimulus funding.

To be eligible for funding, the projects must be “shovel ready,” meaning all engineering, architecture and cost analysis have already been completed and the project is simply awaiting funding.

President Barack Obama signed the stimulus package, called The American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill, into law on Tuesday.

“The economy is in such trouble that, even with passage of this package, unemployment rates are expected to rise to between 8 percent and 9 percent this year,” said Dave Obey, D-Wisconsin, who chairs the House Committee on Appropriations. “Without this package, we are warned that unemployment could explode to near 11 percent. With passage of this package, we will face a large deficit for years to come. Without it, those deficits will be devastating and we face the risk of economic chaos.

“Tough choices have been made in this legislation and the fiscal discipline will demand more tough choices in the future.”

Bee County commissioners did not submit a wish list but called the meeting because the lists must be submitted through the county government.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Carlos Salazar said last week that even though the county may not submit a list of projects, the county will benefit if the economic stimulus projects by other government agencies in Bee County are funded.

“I don’t know how much we’re going to get but if we get something it’s better than what we have right now,” Bee County Judge David Silva told those attending the meeting.

Beeville Mayor Kenneth Chesshir agreed the city may as well get in line for some of the funding.

“I think it’s a good idea, obviously, if they are going to be slinging some money around,” he said of the federal government. “I think it’s going to be a long process before the time it finally gets to us. We might as well throw our projects in while we’re thinking about it and get it to Mr. Hinojosa’s office.”

Also attending the meeting Tuesday were County Commissioners Susan Stasny, Eloy Rodriguez and Ronnie Olivarez; Joe B. Montez, executive director of the Bee Development Authority; Erasmo Rodriguez, BISD assistant superintendent of facilities; Beeville City Manager Ford Patton; City Councilmen John Fulghum, David Carabajal, Mike Scotten and Jimbo Martinez; Beeville City Secretary Tommy Saenz and Beeville finance director Bobby Aguilar; Bee County Jail Administrator Mike Page; and Chris Garcia, who is on Congressman Hinojosa’s staff.

Here’s what the sheriff’s office, BDA and city of Beeville included on their wish lists:

Bee County Sheriff’s Office

Amount requested: $10,574,885.

Big ticket item: new jail. Estimated cost: $10 million.

Justification: “Our current facility is outdated for many of the security needs that are dictated by the current number of violent gangs in our community. With the staggering number of gang members as well as the sheer number of different gangs in our community, we are unable to house these individuals safely and efficiently in our current facility.”

Other items on the sheriff’s office wish list includes: Five additional patrol officers, $354,505.

Justification: “Bee County lies directly in the path of several drug, currency and human trafficking corridors coming in and out of Mexico. The sheriff’s office has participated in several operations granted by the Department of Homeland Security. This has allowed more patrol officers to infiltrate these corridors with overwhelming success. The sheriff’s office is asking for five full-time officers as well as patrol units and equipment so that these assets can immediately be utilized.”

In addition, the sheriff’s department is asking for $136,335.93 to purchase 25 portable XTS2500 Motorola radios, 26 XTL2500 in-car 100- watt Motorola radios.

Justification: The portable and in-car radios will provide Bee County deputies with the means to communicate with other state and national law enforcement agencies. “Communications operability and interoperability is of primary concern to the state of Texas and Texas public safety agencies and is necessary to fully support the state and national efforts to secure the international border of Texas.”

The sheriff’s office also requested $84,045.12 to purchase 18 Digital Ally in-car digital video systems.

Justification: “These systems are state of the art and are very reliable, which will solve the problems encountered with our current video system. This project’s objective is to enhance the ability of our agency to apprehend, and more importantly, prosecute, the criminal element.” The digital video camera systems will “prevent the possible loss of important criminal cases due to a lack of evidence.”

Bee Development Authority

Amount requested: $29.1 million.

Big ticket item: New hangar, $10 million.

Justification: “Sikorsky Aerospace Management is leaning toward asking us for a new hangar. If we build this new hangar, it will bring in additional employment, maybe 200-300 new jobs.”

Other items on the BDA’s wish list includes: renovation of four hangars, $12 million; restoration of other buildings, $2 million; site improvements, $2 million; drainage improvements, $800,000; improvements to runway and taxiway, $2.5 million; perimeter fencing, $200,000; parking apron improvements, $200,000; lend-to buildings, $65,000; expansion of warehouse, $400,000; paint booth improvements, $300,000.

City of Beeville

Amount: $2.8 million plus.

Big ticket items: sump pump and elevated water storage tank for Veterans Memorial Park, $1,658,000; replace two elevated storage tanks, $1 million; additional ground storage tank at FM 351 pump station, $200,000; water treatment plant expansion, cost unknown; dredging and modifications to raw water intake structure at Lake Corpus Christi, cost unknown; widen South Tyler Street from Cook Road to Moore Street to include curbs and gutters with sidewalk, cost unknown; widen Jones Road from Inez Street to FM 351, cost unknown.

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