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2011-05-25 digital edition

JUDGE WANTS HIS $300 “DONATION” BACK

Text: T T
Willacy County Day in Austin bills start to show up
BY TONY VINDELL
Reporter

The Willacy County Day in Austin, a trip a group of local people took earlier in April, has been described as a success by County Judge John F. Gonzales Jr.

But now that the party is over, the expenses incurred from the trip are in the process of getting paid.

A total of $ 3,650 was donated by individuals and businesses for the trip that included a one-night stay for a dozen officials and friends at the Drury Inn & Suites in Austin.

Among those who stayed at the hotel were Gonzales, County Commissioners Noe Loya, Dora Perez and Aurelio Guerra, Catalina Ozuna, the interim director with the Development Corp. of Raymondville Inc., Constable Mario Salazar, Justice of the Peace Yesenia Rosas and Raymondville Mayor Orlando “Lonnie” Correa. and Raymondville Police Chief Uvaldo Zamora.

The total hotel bill came out to be $1,488.40, and it was paid by Joe Garcia.

Each room cost $120.70, and included local and state taxes.

Garcia is a principal owner with The Garcia Group, a lobbyist the county hired back in February under a $54,000-a-year contract.

The Garcia Group was given the contract after the county decided not to renew a contract it had with lobbyist Sally Velazquez, with Texas Horizon. Her contract was for $35,000 a year.

The $1,448.40 hotel bill Garcia paid from the Willacy County Day in Austin has been submitted to the county and it could come up in the list of claims at this week special meeting.

Garcia’s name wasn’t in the list of donors that contributed money for the trip.

He did not return a message left in his Austin office.

The name of the donors and the money they donated for the Willacy County Day in Austin are:

Joe Wetegrove, $1,000.

Raul Flores, $350.

John F. Gonzales Jr., $300.

VTX, $1,000.

Naismith Engineering, $500.

AEP, $500.

Gonzales, however, has submitted a claim to the county auditor’s office for the $300 he donated.

But in an interview last week, he said he threw the money into the pot to cover some of the expenses just in case there wasn’t enough money to pay for the trip.

“I have not been reimbursed yet,” Gonzales said. “We are still waiting for another donor.”

2011-05-25 / Front Page

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