By Gilda Morales
County commissioners met in special session yesterday with the main topic of discussion being the newest executive order, GA-18 from Governor Abbott on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. County Attorney Steve Mitchell advised the Court that the latest order effectively took any power to deal with the pandemic away from the local level, including county judges and emergency management agencies. Mitchell told the Court that the county nor the city had to approve or ratify any of GA-18, since the governor’s authority supersedes authority on a local level. The Court discussed the prudence of opening up too soon and most agreed that since most of the governor’s orders end on May 18, it would make sense to keep the status quo.
Judge Urias then administered the oath of office to Olivia Legarreta, who will now serve as Constable for Precinct 2. The Court agreed that it would have to be very frugal with the budget and spending given the current problems with the oil industry, which provides the County with a large portion of its tax revenues.
Linda McDonald, County Clerk, advised the Court that her office would remain closed to the public until June 1, but that she and her staff would continue working at the office following social distances and precautions. The Court agreed with her decision given that her office usually has a large contingency of petroleum landmen wanting to review deeds and other records.
In other action, McDonald provided the court with a copy of a letter she received from Mark Blount, from the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, for assistance in placing very small seismometer stations on county road rights of ways, to begin earthquake monitoring in the northern part of Culberson County. Mr. Blount’s letter mentioned that seismologists are wanting to investigate an “earthquake swarm” in the County.