Duval Crime Victims Program advocates Geraldita “Tita” Martinez and Ninfa Garcia addressed county commissioners and the county judge last Monday during the regular monthly meeting in regard to the recent closing of the program.

State grants that provided funding to pay salaries were denied this year, causing Priscilla Lane and Martinez the loss of their jobs as coordinator and clerk of the victim’s aid program.

Garcia voiced frustration, saying each year they verbally applied for grants, but always received low ratings from the Coastal Bend Council of Governments.

“They (CBCOG) never gave us an answer how they came up with the scores; what they were based on. Yet we even service people in Jim Hogg that don’t have a Crime Victims there,” she said.  “They never take that in consideration; we provide a lot of help.”

Martinez said, “I am requesting that funds be provided by Duval County so that we can continue to serve the victims.”

She then passed out copies of her resume with attached copies of her bachelor’s degree to the commissioners.

Documentation was distributed listing compensation from the state victims in Duval County received from 2003 to 2007, which totaled $338,700.11.

All compensation to victims is received from the Attorney General’s Office, and is not paid by the county, Garcia stressed.

Compensation covered crimes that included substantial threat of physical or emotional harm or death, including sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery, assault, homicide and other violent crimes as well as vehicular crimes.

Expenses covered included those for medical treatment, psychiatric care or counseling, relocation, loss of wages, care of a child, funeral and burial costs and attorney fees.

Martinez also informed the commissioner’s court that the office was in the process of obtaining 10 protective orders for victims when the office had to close its doors.

“We are still having people come by and calling about a protective order,” she said.

She said they had finally been able to arrange for counselors to come to Duval County to help crime victims, when the program dissolved.

“We have a lot of victims here that need counseling. This program is needed badly here,” Garcia said. “This county cannot afford not to have this program.”

Since they spoke during the comments portion of the meeting, no action was taken.

In other business, commissioners unanimously approved a proposed tax rate of .77 per $100 value for the 2008-2009 year.

Last year’s approved proposed tax rate was $1.02 per $100 value.

“This will be a considerable savings for taxpayers,” Duval County Judge Abel Aragon said.

A resolution for submission of a grant application for the Central South Texas Texas Criminal Investigation Unit of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division for the 2008-2009 year was then approved.

Afterward, Valley Telephone Cooperated Inc. was authorized to bore across County Road 245 to construct, reconstruct, lay and maintain a utility line along the road near Benavides.

Valley Telephone Cooperated Inc. was also granted authorization to bury a telephone communication cable to parallel the west side of the east right-of-way on County road 256, to be buried at approximately 42 feet at a minimum about 2.8 miles south.

Following discussion, Aragon was authorized by the commissioners to obtain a letter of credit for $30,000 from the First State Bank of San Diego, and to pledge a $30,000 C.D. as a security agreement with an expiration date of Sept. 30, 2009. First National Bank of Rio Grande City, Texas was named as beneficiary.

Approval was also passed authorizing Aragon to execute a contract with Alsay, Inc. of San Antonio for the rehabilitation of three San Diego Municipal Utility District water wells under the County Road 303/Farm-To-Market Road 1329 Water Improvement Project.

San Diego Municipal Utility District will be reimbursed for any expenses for work included in the performance statement of the contract. Commissioners unanimously accepted the 2009 Duval County Sheriffs and constables fees.

Attending the meeting were Com. Pct. 3 Nestor Garza, Com. Pct. 4 Gilberto Uribe and the judge.