Pictured: Pct. 1 JP Alonzo Villarreal explains to the court why he is resigning his position. The County Judge and County Commissioners agreed Villarreal has served the county well over the last 23 years. Photo by MAURICIO JULIAN CUELLAR JR.

Pct. 1 JP to stay on through Aug. 31

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Jim Wells County Commissioners accepted the resignation of Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Alonzo Villarreal on Monday morning during a special court meeting.

Villarreal said because of his back injuries, he is only able to work half a day, and that he is unable to sit for long periods of time.

"I can only work half days, and my doctor said not to sit all day. This is a very busy office…that's the reason I'm retiring," Villarreal said.

Commissioner Zenaida Sanchez said there has been a lot of transition in the last few months, with JP Elois Barham leaving and then the passing of Constable Alonzo Lozano. She said that Villarreal's resignation is certainly a great loss to Jim Wells County.

Commissioner Oswald Alanis said Villarreal is a model for the county, and will definitely be a tough judge to replace.

On that issue, Villarreal once again stated, as he had in his resignation letter last week, the court should appoint Ramiro Saenz to serve the rest of his unexpired term.

Villarreal's resignation is effective Aug. 31, and County Judge L. Arnoldo Saenz said the court will consider several options during the commissioner's court meting held one week before the resignation date.

Commissioners said several people have already expressed interest in the position.

Along with Saenz, the court is also considering Alice City Council member Juan Rodriguez, who lost to Villarreal in the last election and expressed his desire to take the soon to be open JP position. Ramiro Saenz and Rodriguez were both present at the meeting.

Judge Saenz said there are several options to consider. The commissioners said they will consult with the county attorney's office to see if it will be necessary to hold an election for the unexpired portion of Villarreal's term, since there is more than 50 percent of his term remaining.

If so, an appointee could fill in at the position until the next possible election date in 2008.

Saenz said it is possible the court will decide to leave the position open until the next available election, and have another JP fill in for Villarreal's duties for a few months' time.