Judge pledges help for Vela with light project
If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
“I AM THE BLACK SHEEP”
Frio County commissioners dueled last week over an ongoing light project on the north side of Pearsall.
Commissioners had voted in late March to install five new street lights along Vaughn Road after learning of repeated reports regarding undocumented immigrants traveling along the poorly lit thoroughfare.
The illumination of Vaughn Road, located along the city limit line on the far northwest side of Pearsall, is part of a three-stage lighting project Pct. 3 Comm. Raul Carrizales proposed while the county’s budget was being drafted.
According to Carrizales, five of the six safety lights have been installed along Vaughn Road.
“I decided to take on the light project in Precinct 3 and it is similar to the one [Pct. 4 Comm. Danny] Cano is taking on in Dilley,” the commissioner said during the Tuesday, April 25, meeting.
Once the final light is placed along Vaughn Road, Carrizales plans to add three lights to Nolan Road and then one to CR 1151.
Carrizales said he is being cost-efficient by placing safety lights on light poles already equipped with transformers.
“The lights that were approved last meeting are already up,” the commissioner said. “I immediately got calls thanking the court in its entirety for the lights.”
Frio County Judge Rochelle Camacho noted that during the recent precinct meetings, the biggest concern has been lighting.
Carrizales reiterated the project included extensive research into locating a plot for the north Pearsall area, doing test runs on electrical poles and finding funding for the three-phase project.
“We did have an issue with that area because we could not find a plot for the subdivision, so it took four to five months,” Carrizales said.
“We are allowed to put street lights up because we are within 150 miles of an international border, but it has to be in a subdivision,” Joseph Sindon, legal counsel for the county, said. “A house in the middle of nowhere – probably not.”
Pct. 1 Comm. Joe Vela expressed his opposition to the project, saying he needs additional lighting in his precinct.
“We need to start on my precinct,” Vela said. “You are putting so many lights in one precinct. You should put a limit like three or four a year, not twenty in one year. You are putting more lights than a football field.”
“I need to address this,” Carrizales said. “Last budget year, I specifically sat up here and I budgeted for five thousand dollars for design and ten thousand dollars for construction. That is what I am allocated; that is what I am allowed with permission from the court. Commissioner Vela asked for fifty-five thousand dollars for his light project in Derby. If he brings it to the commissioners’ court, I am one hundred percent sure we will agree, but nothing has been brought to this court.”
Vela told the court he was going to start the project but was unsure from whom he needed approval to begin the job.
“I was gonna do it but I do not know if I have to talk to Crystal [Marquez, county auditor] or Medina [Electrical Cooperative] to approve lights in Derby,” the Pct. 1 commissioner said.
Carrizales encouraged Vela to begin his project in the near future, noting that funds for the effort need to be spent by the end of this year’s budget.
“We have until this fiscal year to spend this money, so I am asking you, Commissioner Vela, to please bring some projects,” Carrizales said.
“If you know what you are allowed in the budget then you can move on it,” the judge said. “You should know the amount you have for your precinct.”
“I am the black sheep,” Vela said. “And it was Mr. [Jose] Asuncion who was fighting for those lights for two years.”
“We are going to pull your budget and help guide you,” the judge said.