Citiy council approves preliminary plans to expand convention center

By Robert Morales —

Council members on Tuesday approved a request from Alderman Marcial
Gonzalez to begin the process of expanding and renovating the Convention
Center.

As Mr. Gonzalez explained, the current Convention Center has become
functionally obsolescent in terms of its capacity and its ability to
attract larger events. City Administrator Fran Malafronte said the
Convention Center has about 5,000 square feet – a size that is
considered relatively small even for a town the size of Van Horn.

Ms. Malafronte said the city has about $188,000 available in the Building Fund.

Council members approved a motion that would first require an
architect to present a very preliminary vision of an updated center
based upon specific prerequisites from council members such as scope,
size, building materials, and amenities.

“We need to accommodate the community better,” said Mr. Gonzalez.

In other action, council members approved the 2012 Culberson County
Appraisal District delinquent tax roll as of June 13, 2013. According to
Ms. Malafronte, the tax valuation for the Town of Van Horn is
$66,126,500. The Town's share of collectible taxes is about $325,000 and
the Town has collected $287,381, leaving a delinquent balance of about
$35,000, or less than 10%.

Ms. Malafronte explained that the tax rate has remained about the
same because the value of property has increased and property owners pay
a slightly lower tax rate.

Council members, in other action, agreed to request at least quotes
for roll-off containers. Ms. Malafronte explained that the Town's
disposal license would have to be re-defined for the landfill because
currently part of the landfill is on city property, some of it on the
Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) and some in the county. Trash may
not be transferred within the city limits.

Both Ms. Malafronte and Dion Corralez, Utilities Manager, agreed that
“it would be in the best interest of the city to buy roll-offs.” Mr.
Corralez said that although the idea of purchasing roll-offs is in the
infancy stage, it would make sense to present the idea to business
owners to decide whether roll-offs or dumpsters made more sense.

Finally, Alderman Cheri Friday asked to be placed on the agenda to
discuss the results of a meeting that had taken place the previous week
regarding emergency management and how it relates to elected and
appointed officials.

Ms. Friday has been an active proponent of the inner workings of
emergency management preparedness. In an interview with The Van Horn
Advocate, Ms. Friday said she has serious doubts about whether the Town
of Van Horn and Culberson can withstand or handle a catastrophic event.

However, Ms. Friday's discussion at Tuesday night's meeting centered
around the meeting held in Van Horn sponsored by Texas A&M emergency
management staff. Council members Friday, Domingo Corralez and Marcial Gonzalez attended that meeting.

Ms. Friday said her only intention in bringing up the topic of
emergency management in Van Horn is to ensure that elected officials as
well as appointed officials are up to date on the most current policies
involving emergency management. She added that there needs to be more
community education as well as better communication to the citizens.

“As a result of the discussion of the meeting on Tuesday night, I
would like to see city council take positive actions to support the
ordinances dated June 2005,” said Ms. Friday.