County accepts water board resignations, nominations
By ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN
PRESIDIO COUNTY – Presidio County Commissioners Buddy Knight and Carlos Armendariz, along with Presidio County Judge Paul Hunt, accepted the resignations of three members of the Presidio County Underground Water Conservation District Board at Tuesday’s county meeting.
After a falling out with the Presidio County officials, members of the water board expressed their disappointment and their intent to resign in a letter to the editor in The Presidio International and Big Bend Sentinel in July. At issue was the appointment of two new board members, Presidio School Board President Carlos Nieto and Marfa City Administrator Jim Mustard, who replaced Johnny Surratt and Robby Cabezuela, whose terms were up. Surratt and Cabezuela, along with water board members Terry Bishop of Presidio, Ike Livingston of Marfa and Jim White of Marfa and water board manager Janet Adams didn’t find out about the replacements until reading about it in the Sentinel and International and responded to the county, likewise, in the newspapers.
“We made an effort to patch things up to keep them on,” Hunt said Tuesday of Bishop, White and Livingston, but that “a resolution (to the matter) was not proving practical.”
Knight said he had spoken with Bishop, White, and Livingston, reporting that they would come back to the board if Surratt and Cabezuela were reappointed.
Hunt made it clear it was the county commissioners’ court that had sole authority in appointing members to the county water board.
“I believe it’s appropriate that an elected body make the appointments not that they make the appointments,” Hunt said, referring to the water board members’ ultimatum.
He said Nieto and Mustard were already appointed and there was no way to recall them other than in the event of some sort of wrongdoing on their part.
“They’re not willing to serve,” Knight said in reference to Bishop, White and Livingston.
Hunt then made the motion to, “accept with regret” the resignations of Bishop, White and Livingston. The motion was seconded and the resignations were accepted by a unanimous vote.
The Texas Legislature mandates that the water board have members to represent both urban and rural interests.
Mustard and Nieto represent the urban interests of Marfa and Presidio, respectively.
The next task for county commissioners was to appoint members to represent the rural interests and to replace the members who resigned. Hunt suggested David Williams, son of Presidio County Treasurer Mary Williams. Williams, Hunt said, “will be an excellent candidate,” citing Williams’ work history on area ranches, adding, “I can say with confidence that David Williams will be great for the board.”
Another nomination suggested from the public audience by George van Ettan who represents the Lely Ranch in south Presidio County. George van Ettan suggested Bradley Anderholm, Vice President and General Manager of Cibolo Creek Ranch.
Anderholm, who was in the audience, stood up and accepted the nomination, saying he was eager for the water board to “get things moving.” He also noted that the water
board needed to focus some of its energy toward the Rio Grande Mining Company in Shafter and its use of underground water.
Hunt took the floor again, saying he had another candidate for the board but would not name him publicly yet until the mystery nominee gives Hunt a definitive answer.
Knight also has two interested individuals, who still need to make up their minds before going public. With that, the commissioners voted to accept the nominations of Williams and Anderholm but tabled any action on appointing anyone to the board until more nominees are heard from.
“I’d like to see this resolved at the next meeting,” Knight said.
In a related matter, the county sought to nominate someone to represent Presidio County on the Far West Texas Water Planning Group. That group, which is larger and regional in scope, will make the ultimate decision on who represents Presidio County on that body but will entertain suggestions from commissioners.
Previously representing the county was former Presidio City Administrator Brad Newton, who left that position to take a job in Breckenridge.
“It would be wise to nominate a new representative,” Hunt said, adding that the nominee be a county commissioner but with seemingly little interest from present members, an audience member spoke up,
“If you’re looking for someone who might be interested, let me tell you about myself,” said Rudy Garcia, a retired international petroleum geologist, former Marfa City Council member, former gas board member, and longtime Rotarian.
Garcia spoke to commissioners of his past career as a geologist, his time in the petroleum business and the 11 years he spend on the Brazos River Authority.
“I’d like to be considered, as a geologist, I’ve always been interested in water,” Garcia said. Garcia added that studying water policy is a hobby of his and quite frankly that,
“When you retire you need something to keep you from dying.”
A motion was made to nominate Garcia for the water planning board, a second was heard, and a unanimous vote to nominate Garcia was made.
In other county business, commissioners:
Heard two proposals to provide health care to inmates at the Presidio County Jail. Don Culbertson, head doctor and owner of the Marfa County Clinic made his case, informing commissioners that he provided health care for inmates from 2006 until the jail’s closing. Culbertson noted that his previous work providing health care for inmates offered him insight into the inner workings of inmate healthcare and that he was able to make many useful observations for future improvements in delivering inmate healthcare.
Elva Torres, CEO of Presidio County Health Center addressed the court, explaining the history of her institution, which began in 2004 as a non-profit organization. Torres cited the Presidio County Health Center’s close relationship with the county, including provided free flu shots to county and city emergency personnel. The court took no action yet on a contract but will continue to discuss the issue and receive more information on costs to the county from the two health organizations before a contract is awarded.
Listened to a presentation by Scott Pryor of FRV Enterprises, a solar energy company who is working on a 10-megawatt solar project two miles north east of Presidio. The project would use photovoltaic technologies to harness the sun’s energy. The company has projects throughout the United States, Spain, Italy and France. Pryor told commissioners that once the facility is in place the property value of the land it is on would significantly increase, generating new dollars for Presidio ISD, Presidio County and the hospital district. County Judge Paul Hunt will announce a public hearing on the solar project in the near future.
Voted in support of a proclamation in support of Binational Health Week in October.
Voted in support of a resolution proclamation for National 4-H Week.
Accepted new rules for Presidio Lely International Airport which were outdated and contrary to the mission and goals of the airport.