Commissioners hired a lobbyist to advocate for Jim Wells County in hopes of economic development growth and acquiring state and federal grants.

Ernie Gonzalez Jr., EMC Strategy Group, LLC president and CEO, was contracted as governmental and legislative affairs consulting relating to community issues and representation at the 2017 State Legislature.

The consultant fee starts at $3,000 a month for the rest of the year and would increase to $3,500 monthly in January 2017.

Gonzalez waived his travel and meal expenses to assist the county in its financial hardship.

“I know we are cutting and cutting, but Jim Wells County has been the same way...and it needs to change,” County Judge Pete Trevino said.

Commissioner Margie Gonzalez agreed.

“We need to have someone to advocate for us,” she said.

The motion carried with a 3-0 vote. Commissioner Ventura Garcia did not attend the meeting.

In another item, District Attorney Carlos Garcia requested the court to approve four positions for reserve investigators. He said the funding of the reservists would come from asset forfeiture funds. Garcia said he is not planning on filling the positions, but will be available if the need arises.

“I want the reserve positions open in case something happens this year or next year,” he said. “This is more of a backup plan.”

The motion carried with 3-0 vote. 

The court also approved a memorandum of understanding between the sheriff's department and the city of Alice to apply and receive monies from the 2016 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which will be utilized to purchase equipment. The sheriff's department also moved $30,000 in funds to cover jailer and dispatch overtime for the rest of the year. 

A 5K run was approved for Sept. 17 under the direction of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

Volunteers Cindy Rios and Raymond Castellano asked the court for $12,000 for the implementation of a drug abuse program at the West Alice Youth Center for the children of the Rancho Alegre community. The court approved the funds.