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EDINBURG — The Objective Watchers of the Legal System (OWLS) revisited its concerns July 31 regarding Hidalgo County Commissioners’ Court decision to move open forum to the end of the meeting.

OWL Frank Traver told commissioners that he just doesn’t understand why open forum is at the end of the meeting to save time when award ceremonies and individual recognitions take up a huge amount of time at the beginning of Commissioners’ Court.

“This thing seems to drag out more and more. The second verse is the same as the first. It could have gotten better, but it’s going to get worse,” Traver said with a sly smile. “I’m having a hard time understanding why it’s at the end. I guess to save time. But we need to look at what took all the time. There is a tremendous influx with award ceremonies and individual recognitions in large groups, and on other occasions where there are large numbers of presentations, and some can take a half hour by themselves.”

He said open forum never takes longer than 30 minutes.

In April, County Judge Ramon Garcia told the Progress Times the change was made to accommodate television viewers who watch the court recording Tuesday at 10 p.m. on KMBH.

“What we were experiencing was a number of people complaining that they couldn’t see county business because of items like open forum, proclamations and honoring of community members,” Garcia said in April. “That does cut into some of the time. We’re trying to balance things out.”

Traver countered that statement July 31 by saying he knows a number of people who watch the rebroadcast and are disappointed that open forum was moved to the end because they cannot stay up to midnight to watch it as county meetings are typically two to three hours long.

Garcia said the court is working to give people a meaningful opportunity to express themselves about relevant issues.

“You wanted to be able to discuss concerns before we voted. Mrs. Townsend did that three times today, and I feel that was giving her a meaningful voice today,” Garcia said referring to OWL member Virginia Townsend.

In Precinct 3 business, the court:

  • Approved L&G Engineering’s bid for on-call services relating to Texas Department of Transportation projects;
  • Approved change orders that involve an increase or decrease in costs of $50,000 or less to be made by the precinct commissioner or a designee in the interest of expediting a project’s progress;
  • Approved an interlocal cooperation agreement between the County and Peñitas to expand Tom Gill and/or Liberty Road corridor from U.S. 83 to 3 Mile Road to a four-lane roadway.

In other business, the county:

  • Appropriated $10,000 to the Courthouse Security Fund;
  • Appropriated $95,568.26 to the Precinct #4 Drainage Improvement Project for March and April 2012 labor reimbursements;
  • Appropriated $50,000 to Precinct 4 for reimbursement from Edinburg for the Seminary Road re-construction project;
  • Approved an estimated cost of $397,469 for engineering services required by Precinct 2 for Dicker Road Improvements, with TEDSI Infrastructure Group, Inc.;
  • Approved a $9,662.44 work order from L&G Engineering Laboratory for construction materials testing, on an as needed basis, for projects in Precinct 4;
  • Approved an invoice from Modern Technology-Modern Environment for application and implementation of TCEQ Incinerator permit in the amount of $3,994.49;
  • Approved a contract with L&G Engineering and Laboratory with a proposed fee of $2,732.98 to provide construction materials testing services for Pct. 1’s Border Colonia Round III La Milpa Subdivision Project;
  • Approved a contract with DOS Logistics, Inc. to provide plans, specifications and estimate and construction inspection for Hidalgo County Pct. 4 Border Colonia Access Program Round III projects in the amount of $76,643.73
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