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2017-06-28 digital edition

County 8-liner meeting a waste of time

Text: T T
BY TONY VINDELL
Reporter

“Blah, blah, blah” is how some people reacted to last week’s meeting of the Willacy County Commissioners’ Court.

The commissioners were to take action on regulating the eight-liners in the unincorporated areas of the county. Instead, they spent much of the time discussing when to hold a public hearing on the matter.

Eddie Gonzales, the Precinct 4 commissioner who lives in the eight-liners stronghold of Sebastian, made a motion to take no action.

He then recommended a public meeting, which was suggested earlier by County Judge Aurelio “Keter” Guerra.

At issue was a petition signed by about 50 people, asking the commissioners’ court to regulate the eightliners and to enforce building, fire and electrical safety codes.

Guerra applauded the people behind the petition drive and added he would like to get input first from the public and from county employees.

“I have read a bill (passed to regulate the eight-liners) but I don’t think we are prepared to do that,” he said. “We can address this in a public forum.”

In the meantime, Guerra said they can start looking at what other counties have done without a commissioners’ court intervention.

But Stanley Gonzales, Cheto Garcia and Joe Salinas said the commissioners’ court is treating the issue as something unimportant.

“Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr counties have been doing their share,” he said, referring to the numerous raids on eightliners. “Why couldn’t we do that here?”

Gonzales said an armed robbery and a shooting have taken place inside the casino parlors.

“One is too many,” he said. “It’s true this is a local enforcement issue but, on the other hand, this could be a joint effort to regulate the maquinitas.”

After the meeting, the three said they were not impressed on how the meeting went.

“A public hearing,” Salinas said. “That is not going to do a thing.”

Meanwhile, two new eightliners have opened in the county.

One is Silver City along I- 69E where an old fruit stand stood previously.

The other has opened inside the old Tucker’s BBQ building along Business 77 in Lyford.

The eight-liners are not giving up by any means, but now that the county is starting to look at how to regulate the industry, that could change.

Ryan Guillen, a member of the Texas House of Representatives and sponsor of a house bill that gives Willacy County authority to regulate eight-liners, said it’s up to the county to do so.

2017-06-28 / Front Page

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