Christopher Maher, Jim Wells County Correspondent

The Jim Wells County Appraisal District announced the results of the election for the board of directors Wednesday, and the board will have one new member when he takes the oath of office next month.

Chief Appraiser J. Sidney Vela announced that the elected board will include incumbents Newell Atkinson III, who received 1,369 votes; Javier Garcia, who received 910 votes; Guadalupe "Lupe" Martinez, who received 835 votes; and Wallace Burgeson, who also received 835 votes.

The board will be joined by newcomer Dr. Ruben Garcia, who received 1,017 votes.

Other nominated individuals included R. David Guerrero, who received nine votes, and Betty Lou Garcia, who received no votes.

Incumbent chairman of the board Charles Galindo was not re-nominated.

The 4,975 votes cast in the election were distributed by 10 of the 11 taxing districts. The City of Premont, which had 25 votes it could have used in the election, did not cast any votes. The new board will be sworn in during the first meeting of the new year on Jan. 16.

In action items, the council approved an agenda item to "readopt and ratify all prior actions taken by the Appraisal District Board of Directors at all previous meetings in the 2007 year." Vela said the item was a "housekeeping measure" the board passed every year on the advice of legal counsel.

Under informational items, the board was updated on the merger of the law firms Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson, L.L.P. and James Erck. Both firms have provided separate collection of delinquent taxes for taxing entities including the City of Alice, the Alice Water Authority, the Alice ISD, La Gloria ISD, Jim Wells County, the Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco ISD, the City of Premont, the Premont ISD, the City of Orange Grove and the Orange Grove ISD.

Under the terms of the merger, the two firms will now work together to collect delinquent taxes in the area.

"We're very optimistic about the merger between these two companies," Vela told the board Wednesday. "We think it's going to be good for the county."

In other business, Vela also informed the board that a settlement had been reached in a lawsuit filed by the San Diego Creek Apartments against the appraisal district. That lawsuit was filed protesting the appraised value of the apartment complex, set at $1,362,900 for the 2007 tax year. In its suit, Vela said, the owners of the apartment complex had requested a value of $793,378.

Vela said both parties had reached an agreement setting the value of the apartment complex at $1,048,000 for the 2007 tax year.

Although both sides agree on the final number, that agreement still needs to be presented to a judge for approval before the suit can be dismissed, Vela said.