By Kenneth Roberts
At their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 20, the City Commission of Rio Grande City approved a bid and okayed a contract regarding the construction of needed utilities at the massive commercial retail area on the east side of the city that is pending development and construction.
The city commissioners voted to approve the lowest bid for the St. Ives Utilities to carry out supporting work under EDA Project 08-01-05074 for the large scale commercial area on the north side of U.S. 83. City engineer Gilbert Guerra noted that three bids were submitted, with prices ranging from roughly $295,000 to $478,000.” The exact amount of the low bid was $295,773.39.
Guerra added, “This project will involve seven hydrants. Even with the addition of over $28,000 (for additional hydrants), the project is within the amount budgeted.”
The commissioners also voted to award a contract to Five Star Clarke Construction, LLC for St. Ives Utilities to support work on the Commercial Center under EDA Project No. 08-01-05074.
Guerra later explained that the project involves water and sewer lines and “the main drive for the major new commercial center. Basically the contract is to extend municipal services. There could be businesses actually opening in the upcoming summer (of 2020).”
A groundbreaking ceremony for the large mixed-use retail site was held on Nov. 4, with many local, state and federal officials on hand. The project was in the planning and design stages for more than seven years and is expected to create hundreds of new jobs and expand the tax base by hundreds of millions.
The commission voted to authorize the city manager to negotiate and execute all documents necessary for the purchase of one pickup truck for the city’s Planning Department. Planning Director Gilbert Millan noted that “we lost one employee (that was) transferred to the Public Utility Department, and with that we lost one vehicle. The vehicle will be used for Code Enforcement.”
The commission voted to approve services by radio host Alexander Quintanilla for the 12th annual Chili Showdown on Feb. 1. Tourism Director Sandra Hernandez declared, “This event is designed to feature vaquero-style cooking. There were 31 contestants in four categories last year.”
The commission also voted to approve a music contract for NaviFest with Los Palominos in an amount not to exceed $9000, subject to the group agreeing to contract terms. Hernandez indicated, “This band will perform from 9:30 to 11 p.m. under the pavilion for the upcoming carnival. We hope we can have a continued relationship with this carnival.” The NaviFest event will take place in December 2019.
Tourism Director Hernandez also noted, “We are involved with a number of events, including an upcoming carnival and Main Street lighting for the Christmas season. We’re doing it (the lighting) in phases to minimize costs. We hope for significant lighting on Second Street next year.” She commented that there should be significantly more lighting this year than in 2018.
The recently crowned Miss Rio Grande City, Carolina Alejandra Garcia, and Little Miss Rio Grande City, Dannaly Avina, were recognized at the meeting. Mayor Joel Villarreal emphasized, “Thank you for representing this city with pride, and we look forward to seeing you at upcoming events.”
The list of official city holidays for calendar year 2020 was approved. City Manager Alberto Perez explained, “The only difference this year is one less day due to one holiday falling on a weekend.”
This article originally appeared in the Friday Nov. 29, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.