Sanchez: 'I'm glad to see AISD has seen the light'

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Orange Grove Journal

"We're not there to arrest anybody or scare the students. We're there to help the teachers and the students," Sheriff Oscar Lopez told Jim Wells county commissioners before they approved the agreement between the sheriff's department and the Alice Independent School District to have deputies in Alice High School and William Adams Middle School.

Starting Sept. 1, AHS will have a deputy stationed at the school, alongside security personnel.

The sheriff will also hire another deputy to serve at William Adams Middle School.

AISD is paying for the two officers during this initial year of the program.

According to the agreement, the cost for the first year to the district will be $65,670 for the two deputies.

This amount includes their salaries, which are $26,000 each and $4,000 in equipment costs per officer. There is an additional $5,670, which will go to supplement a portion of the COPS in Schools gemeral fund, which is currently being paid through a combination of county funding and school district supplements.

Several of the commissioners felt the time had come for the program to expand into AISD, the largest district in the county.

"I'm glad to see AISD has seen the light. This is a very important program," Pct. 1 Commissioner Zenaida Sanchez said.

In addition to the new deputy for WAMS, Lopez said he might hire two additional officers to fill positions for Orange Grove ISD.

Sgt. Rey Aguilar, who was the deputy stationed at Orange Grove High School, was injured in a motorcycle accident last weekend, and is currently in the Intensive Care Unit at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Memorial in Corpus Christi.

COPS in School Supervisor Lt. Cosme Castillo said Aguilar will be out for several weeks, and he would fill in, along with another deputy, at OGHS, until the department hired another deputy until Aguilar returns.

Lopez said a possible agreement between the City of Orange Grove and OGISD for a police officer to be stationed at Orange Grove Intermediate School has not come to fruition.

Lopez is not in talks with OGISD to provide a second deputy for the district. The COPS in Schools program has been active in JWC since 1989, Lopez said. Officers are stationed at Orange Grove, Ben Bolt and now Alice.

Commissioners also received a legislative update from State Rep. Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles (D-Alice).

Several changes in the budget passed after this session, which could have an affect on JWC, Toureilles said.

A total of $96 million was moved from the Parks and Wildlife budget to the Texas Historical Commission, which is in charge of handing out funds for courthouse restoration projects. JWC is in the running for such funds.

Another $73 million is going toward the Help America Vote Act, which will help with funding during the May elections next year. The budget also called for $5 million in insurance assistance for rural fire departments.

Baldo Cantu Jr., interim public works director for the City of Alice, visited the Commissioners' Court to discuss ways in which the two entities can work together on drainage issues and maintenance.

A letter sent by Cantu to County Judge L. Arnoldo Saenz says, "along with manmade ditches, the major drainage ways such as Lattas Creek, San Diego Creek and Zenon Creek…within the limits of the county are also in great need of maintenance."

Cantu said during the meeting it is unclear who is responsible for what.

Commissioner Javier Garcia said the court had been in discussions with the city on this issue as far back as 10 years ago. He said three years ago, after speaking with state officials on the issue, they agreed to make the drainage larger.

Commissioner Wally Alanis said there were several occasions when the county was ready to clear out those ditches and get the areas cleaned up, but the city failed to show up.

"They don't say no, but they don't do anything," Alanis said. "We're willing to help, but we need some in return."

Cantu said the city is ready to cooperate and work together on a solution. Sanchez suggested that Cantu meet with the commissioners out at the drainage sites to see exactly what needs to be done in those areas.

The court tabled the item, to allow the commissioners a chance to meet with Cantu.

Commissioners decided on seal coat bids Friday, selecting Ronald R. Wagner and Company, after reviewing the bids and on the advice of the county surveyor Bob Owen. Wagner's bid totaled $201,264, which included 36,000 square yards of double seal coating and 80,000 square yards of single seal coating. The project will cover parts of several county roads around JWC. The other bidder, Carroll Weaver, bid $16,000 higher than Wagner.

As part of the agreement, the county will push for the work to be completed by Oct. 1, Saenz said.

And, the judge also stated his desire to see seal coating done at the JWC Fairgrounds.