Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

By an overwhelming margin, voters in Alice approved a $9.6 million bond issue Saturday to fund repairs to the city's water and wastewater infrastructure.

Voters approved the bond proposition by a vote of 1,551 to 447, responding to a call from city officials to authorize the first phase of a multi-million dollar project.

Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez said she was grateful to the community for approving the bond.

"I want to thank the community for supporting it," Saenz-Lopez said. "It's going to make it a lot easier on the council to move ahead on these projects for the next three to five years to take care of our water and wastewater."

Mayor pro-tem Juan Rodriguez Jr. said he was excited about moving forward on the bond.

"We couldn't afford to continue putting it aside, we needed to address it," Rodriguez said. "We're going to go forward with this and make sure we identify and clearly earmark all our expenditures for our public, so they know where every last penny is going."

By a vote of 1,033 to 990, voters also approved an item on the ballot to allow the creation of a Civil Service Organization for the Alice Police Department.

Sgt. Matt Cooke, the president of the group who worked to pass the issue, said Saturday he appreciated the community's support.

"It shows a lot of people are supporting their officers. They support what we do and what we're here for," Cooke said. "We won every polling place today, and that shows me we have a lot of support from our citizens."

Cooke said he planned to meet with representatives of the Alice Fire Department's Civil Service OrganizatioN and with representatives of a state-wide organization from Austin to determine what steps to take next. The changes that do come to the department next, Cooke said, will make it a better place to work.

"It's going to make it a more professional police department, it's going to take politics out of law enforcement," Cooke said. "There's going to be guidelines on punishment. If two people do the same thing, one's not going to get a slap on the hand while the other gets suspended. It's going to be fair across the board. It's job security as long as you're doing the right thing."|