City officials from Charlotte, Jourdanton, Pleasanton and Poteet, along with Atascosa County Judge Bob Hurley met with a panel from Atascosa Citizens in Action (ACA), Thursday, May 7, from 11:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
The session was an opportunity for ACA to listen to and assess avenues they are developing to seek grants for projects in Atascosa County.
ACA was developed here in Atascosa County with the University of Texas in San Antonio (UTSA) through their Eagle Ford Shale Community Development Program (EFSCDP).
ACA members have been in workshops since early this year, beginning in February, being trained by representatives from UTSA on how to work in grant request selections.
In support of the ACA mission, and to facilitate the pursuit of grants for community members in Atascosa County, ACA member Carolina Martinez, Librarian for the City of Pleasanton, is submitting an application for the Pleasanton Public Library to become a Funding Information Network (FIN) Partner of the Foundation Library. “As a network partner, we will have access to Foundation Center databases, publications and services. “The nearest partner location is 39 miles away in San Antonio with limited hours of availability during the week. By establishing a grants resource library here, we are better able to serve the needs of the people,” said Martinez.
Atascosa Citizens in Action has been created to do grant work on behalf of all cities in Atascosa County and the county itself in funding pursuits.
Meeting with the ACA panel from Charlotte were George Zuniga, Public Works Director and Gracie Garcia, Charlotte City Secretary.
From the City of Jourdanton, Mayor Susan Netardus and City Manager Dan Nick appeared before the ACA panel.
Representing Pleasanton was Bruce Pearson, City Manager and from Poteet, Scott Moore, City Manager, represented that community.
To begin the meeting, Atascosa County Judge Bob Hurley was called on to address the panel.
Judge Hurley mentioned the county will likely be hiring an architect for a new justice center building because the county needs a net of two new courtrooms.
“We’re looking at, for this justice center, a cost somewhere in the 5 to 8 million dollar range. So it’s really important that we spend the money wisely…. The number one responsibility in my view and I don’t think it’s really disputable, is that the county government provides a prompt and well-run justice system. That is our job to have courtrooms and have judges and a system that works….a well-rounded sheriff’s department. We do a lot of things that are important for the county but I don’t believe anything is more important than a well-run justice system and we are simply out of space to work with the increasing growth here.
County animal control was another issue brought up by Judge Hurley early in his address.
“We are going to have a program and it is going to happen and I am hopeful that we’ll have it open, in place, by January 1 (2016),” said Judge Hurley, “I’ve spent a lot of time on this. The many projects we’re working on now and the money is in place for them, I should get no credit for any of that. That’s my predecessor, Judge Bautista, and the Commissioners. These plans have been in place for this courthouse annex and buying property during the last year, at least, maybe two years, has taken place, so we’re proceeding with that and my role is to make sure we spend our monies as wisely as possible.”
George Zuniga said that the City of Charlotte had just completed a wastewater project. He mentioned the city is in the process of addressing its infrastructure, saying, “We’re about 90 percent done on water and probably about 85 percent on sewer.”
Zuniga mentioned lift station rehab, saying, “Given the fact that Eagle Ford has provided additional income for the city through sales tax, that’s where we have done a lot better. We actually have the means now to address different areas. One of the issues we’re looking at now is animal control. Streets, roads are also a big issue right now. We’re also looking for avenues to be able to fund these issues.”
Jourdanton Mayor Susan Netardus said, “The big project we’re working on right now is our sports complex.”
Additional grant(s) for the sports complex and, possibly, security lights at the Jourdanton City Park were mentioned.
Jourdanton City Manager, Dan Nick said, “During the 17 years he’s been city manager, there has been accomplishment in the infrastructure in the city and miles and miles of water lines and sewer lines have been laid. We just moved into a new 13 thousand square foot city hall. We’ve put in a new waste water treatment plant…with all the new water lines, sewer lines and other accomplishments we can easily double our population without affecting anything.”
Nick mentioned that there is a solar farm erected behind the new city hall where a lot of their energy needs are satisfied and some of the energy is being sold back to Karnes Electric.
Back in 2014, a national magazine picked the Jourdanton city hall as number one in design in the United States.
The ACA panel doing the interviewing was composed of Ben Garza, senior certified business advisor with UTSA who resides locally and deals with small business development; Justin Witherspoon, financial advisor with MassMutual Financial Group. He resides in Northern Atascosa County near Somerset. Justin says his heart is with everything in Atascosa County; Claude Aaron, retired, 45 years in banking, former school board trustee; Leon Zabava, Oil and Gas Editor for the Pleasanton Express; James Horton, Market President at Texas Champion Bank in Pleasanton. Horton has been in banking for 43 years. He wants to make Atascosa County a great community to retire in. He grew up in a small oil town, Kilgore, Texas. He has served as a bank examiner; Carolina Martinez, Pleasanton Public Librarian; Jenny Moore, General Industry Coordinator at Coastal Bend College and very active in community projects.
Bruce Pearson, Pleasanton City Manager mentioned that critical infrastructure is the very first thing we look at in the City of Pleasanton. “Right now we’re under construction with a 6.4 million water project funded totally by the rate payers of the City of Pleasanton,” said Pearson. This will serve water needs for the city for the next 20 to 25 years. A water transmission line is being developed to link all five present and an additional water storage unit being constructed, presently, to make it six pumping facilities connected surrounding Pleasanton. The city developed a master plan in 2012. Street reconstruction is on the upcoming agenda. A feasibility study has been finished for a new fire station at the Pleasanton Municipal Airport. The city is speaking with the county about EMS and Airlife for a helicopter present 24-7 instead of just 10 hours a day. The city council has given direction to build the new facility at the airport to be an asset not only to Pleasanton but the entire county. Also we’re working to get our airport runway extended to a little over 5 thousand feet. There’s a quality of life program beginning where a complete parks master plan is underway.
Scott Moore, Poteet City Administrator, said, “We’re on the bubble with a lot of good items on our agenda. We’re in the position to replace 18 plus miles of water lines and add additional fire hydrants for fire protection reasons. That will be a plus for the community. Rate payers want to do the right thing and be able to look back 30 to 40 years from now and know what they did is good. We’re working on other things for our youth regarding parks and recreation.”
Poteet is looking at a water park idea that would see hiring of young people, especially during the summertime. “Not every family can afford to take their kids to San Antonio, Corpus Christi or wherever. Atascosa County would be a good, ideal place to do business and raise a family. We’re trying to attract venues in this area that are positive for the youth.”
Moore talked about a plan for a water park venue called Hawaiian Falls Water Park that is considering locating in Poteet. Hawaiian Falls Water Parks are attractively designed and have been built in Forth Worth, Garland, Waco and Pflugerville, Texas.
Atascosa Citizens in Action will be meeting at the Pleasanton Civic Center on Thursday, May 21 from 1:00 until 2:00 p.m. They will be reviewing information obtained from the cities of Charlotte, Jourdanton, Pleasanton and Poteet and from County Judge Bob Hurley. LEON ZABAVA is the Oil and Gas Editor for the Pleasanton Express. He can be reached at 830.281.2341 or firstname.lastname@example.org