Alice mayor, county judge see continued economic growth

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Those in the position of leadership around the area have an optimistic view of what's to come in 2007.

The City of Alice and Jim Wells County experienced much growth in 2006, with new businessed either starting or set to start in the coming year.

Alice Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez sees a continuation of growth and economic development in Alice.

"The increased number of businesses and the increase of the sales tax revenue will only help to enhance our growth. The city council will continue to promote new growth in every direction of the city," she said.

The Parks Master Plan, which is currently being created, will go a long way toward bringing all park facilities up to par around Alice, she said.

"We're in the process of hiring a new Parks and Recreation Director, and having plans done for a parks master plan. We'll be heading in a new direction, with our parks and ballparks being brought up to par," she said. "I am looking forward to working with the new assistant city manager and the future city manager. I also am looking forward working closely with Mr. Kruckenburg and the EDC for the benefit of Alice. I see only good things to come in 2007, even better than 2006."

She is also eager to pursuing and supporting the bond issue for improvements of the city's infrastructure.

"Our infrastructure study has said we need at least $10 million to replace our water lines, I'll be looking forward to really pushing the bond issue during election time, because it is badly needed for the city," she said. "I really look forward to the voters supporting me and the council on this. We cannot expect to have future growth if we don't have good infrastructure, so I look forward to pushing for it this spring."

The mayor was very pleased this year with the community development department. She said they are looking to seek out abandoned, substandard properties, and take them before the codes and standards board, to help improve the city's image.

"We're hitting it hard. We're looking to where we can clean the properties up or have them demolished," she said. "The renters, who have substandard properties, we want to bring them up to code, and make those areas safe for people to live in and improve neighborhoods' overall appearance. All of this work goes a long way to help make the city cleaner, which is very important," Saenz-Lopez said.

For the surrounding county area, JWC Judge L. Arnold Saenz sees continued growth on the horizon for 2007.

"We're always looking for good things to come in 2007 for Jim Wells County. We're very optimistic about the outlook for economic growth," he said. "Our oil and gas industry, along with the health care industry, are the backbone of the economy of JWC and we see another strong year in 2007."

One area of focus for the county this year is plans for the courthouse renovation project.

Saenz said he is determined to continue to make the courthouse a source of pride for the people of JWC.

"We'll continue to build on our fund balances for the county in anticipation of our courthouse renovation project. The courthouse of any county is a government icon, and we want to make sure ours reflects the character of our constituents - strong but friendly," Saenz said.