Authorities say clean-up crew may have caused damage

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Jim Wells County Correspondent

Alice Police Department investigator David Valadez said on Wednesday the damage done to a law enforcement communication tower at the Jim Wells County Fairgrounds was considered reckless damage that was accidental and not intentionally done.

He said the joint communications tower was damaged with a sharp instrument of some kind over the last year and wasn't noticed by law enforcement officials until he checked the structure as part of a communications project.

"When I inspected the area, I called concerning the damage to the tower, and the county said 'what damage?' There is a lot of high grass around the area, and during clean- up sometime in the last year, the tower was damaged, and it wasn't noticed until I inspected the area. It wasn't a deliberate act," Valadez said.

After looking over the area and speaking with sheriff's department deputies, it was determined the damage wasn't part of a criminal act, but simply reckless damage done during a clean up.

Alice Police Chief Danny Bueno said earlier this week the damage could cost as much as $8,000 to repair, and the cost would probably be absorbed by the four entities who use the communications tower, including APD, JWC Sheriff's Department, Orange Grove Police Department and the Premont Police Department.

Bueno said although there had been some problems with the tower recently, it wasn't until last month that the department noticed the damage.

He said the repairs will be a joint effort and that nearly eight feet of the tower may have to be replaced.

A construction company out of Corpus Christi is currently running an estimate of the cost of the project.