County Commissioner, Pct. 4 Update | July 5-9, 2021


Last week, three of the four working days were spent in budget workshops. According to estimates from the Frio Appraisal District, total property values in Frio decreased.

Frio County will receive approximately $1.3 million less in revenues at the current property tax rate.

By July 30th, the Frio County Judgeshall prepare a budget to cover all proposed expenditures of the county government for the succeeding fiscal year.” The proposed budget will be filed with County Clerk Aaron Ibarra and available for public inspection and comment.

The statutory responsibility granted to the County Judge to take the lead in preparing the budget represents a great deal of power. The budget is more than just tax rates. It is a vision and policy document. And in a year with a significant loss of total property value, the Judge’s priorities will become even more apparent:
● What will the Judge propose to fund or cut?
● Which issues will be discussed and which will never be mentioned?
● Will the Judge’s proposed budget require a property tax rate increase?

By September 30th, “the commissioners court may make any changes in the proposed budget that it considers warranted by the law and required by the interest of the taxpayers.”

The County Judge has scheduled the next budget workshop for July 26.


Last week’s Road & Bridge efforts focused on trash and limb pickup precinct-wide. The same was true county-wide, where crews also cleaned out several culverts in preparation for the weekend rain, as well as ongoing material hauling. Crews also graded CR4850 (Chido) and did sign maintenance at CR4538 (Divot).

written by Jose Asuncion, County Commissioner, Pct. 4


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County Commissioner, Pct. 4 Update | June 28- July 2, 2021


Commissioner Asuncion and Commissioner Carrizales at South Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association Conference, photo courtesy Texas County Progress

Last week, Commissioners Carrizales, Graf, Vela, and I attended the South Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association Conference. Continuing education hours are not only a statutory requirement of our job, but because laws are always changing, because the county grows in sometimes unpredictable ways, and because events remind us that we’ve probably overlooked some areas of governance, commissioners always need to push themselves to learn more, no matter how long they’ve been on the job.

We covered a range of topics, but I’d like to highlight the following:

● Budgeting
● Redistricting
● Emergency Management
● Subdivision Regulations
● Septic Issues
● Open Records Updates


Some of the work done by Frio County Road & Bridge in Precinct 4 for the week ending Friday July 2nd:

Hauled millings to CR4700 (Jack Penn), CR4850 (Chido)
Graded CR4850 (Chido), CR4700 (Jack Penn)
Shredding/Weed-eating CR4700 (Jack Penn)
Inspected CR4700 (Jack Penn), CR4440 (Machado), CR4725 (Galan), CR 4843 (Urban), CR3871 (Hindes), CR3715 (Schorp), CR4728 (Berrones), CR4757 (Leona River)

written by Jose Asuncion, County Commissioner, Pct. 4

County Commissioner, Pct. 4 Update | June 20-25, 2021


South Texas Rural Health Services Clinic in Dilley

The week started at a training for South Texas Rural Health Services. I’ve served on the board since 2017, and I’m proud to share major developments and projects in Precinct 4 and Frio County:

● On June 14th, South Texas Rural Health Services (STRHS) entered an agreement with Frio County to provide scheduled on-site medical care, dental care, mental health, and substance abuse counseling for inmates at the Frio County jail. The flat $4,000 monthly administration fee for these services will greatly reduce medical costs at the jail.

South Texas Rural Health Services will provide medical services to inmates at Frio County Jail. photo courtesy Frio County Sheriff Facebook Page

● Only one day after COVID vaccine eligibility expanded in early March, STRHS began to schedule vaccines for all willing employees at Frio County, city of Dilley, Dilley ISD, and Pearsall ISD. Because of this early action, Frio was able to end reduced work schedules sooner, and return to full service at the courthouse.
● Each time the vaccine age eligibility was lowered, STRHS returned to the ISDs, providing vaccines to students with parent permission.
● South Texas Rural Health Services is now applying for a grant to build a wellness center in Dilley. The proposed wellness center will have fitness equipment and personal trainers to assist patients with exercise as part of a health plan.

The week’s work shifted from public health with South Texas Rural Health Services to water and drainage with Road & Bridge.

Before I continue, I should acknowledge that there is a small but vocal minority of county officials (two) who continue to question the need for a county engineer, despite the statutory requirement resulting when Frio County residents petitioned to force an election that moved Frio to a county engineer system, and despite recent national headlines of the Miami condominium collapse, in which short-sighted officials ignored engineering warnings

I accompanied County Engineer Roxana Garcia and Road & Bridge Supervisor Ancelmo Ornelas on inspections of county-wide water and drainage issues that have been compounded over the years by design and construction shortcuts. We saw enough problems to keep me writing for a few months. This week, I’ll focus on the construction of a bridge that predates any of our current commissioners, and was built during a stretch in which Road & Bridge was operating without a county engineer.

Bridge on San Miguel Road

The San Miguel bridge washed away during the heavy rains a few months ago. The culverts collapsed and clogged with road material that once provided a path for vehicles. Displaced material will eventually change the route of the water, potentially causing new problems elsewhere. What went wrong?

To begin with, this bridge was constructed 18 ft in length. Why is that important? There was never a consideration to be part of TxDOT’s off-system bridge program, which has a 20 ft requirement.

Collapsed and clogged culvert under the bridge.

TxDOT performs inspections of “off-system bridges,” bridges owned by local jurisdictions such as a county, at least once every 24 months. TxDOT then makes recommendations. As long as work is performed to spec, TxDOT can provide parts, materials, matching funds, and in some cases full replacement. When County Engineer Roxana Garcia started her job in Frio, she leveraged her 20 years experience at TxDOT to take full advantage of the program, repairing bridges that had been flagged by TxDOT for years.

Since the San Miguel bridge was not a TxDOT off-system bridge, the reconstruction costs would come at the expense of county taxpayers, likely hundreds of thousands of dollars. In this case, County Engineer Roxana Garcia again bailed out Frio County, who was able to work with consultants to apply for the County Transportation Infrastructure Fund in an extremely short time frame. The result? TxDOT awarded Frio $1.2 million, and this bridge will be one of the projects at least partially funded by the grant, reducing the burden on county taxpayers…

This time, Frio County will build a strong and long-lasting bridge. It will hopefully be enrolled in a funding-assisted maintenance program that will ensure the bridge actually works for the public and is no longer a threat to public safety…

…or other clichés about not studying history:

Dilley Herald, December 12, 1985



Some of the work done by Frio County Road & Bridge in Precinct 4 for the week ending Friday June 25th:

Hauled millings to CR4827 (St. Mary’s)
Graded CR4828 (Copps), CR4827 (St. Mary’s), CR4890 (Lopez), CR4871 (Ewald), CR4885 (Hurt), CR4670 (Hug0)
Shredding/Weed-eating Hilltop, CR4440 (Machado), CR4425 (Derby), CR3709 (Sheephill), CR3800 (Crawford)
Replaced signs/object markers CR4700 (Jack Penn), CR4843 (Urban), CR4440 (Machado), CR4425 (Derby)

written by Jose Asuncion, County Commissioner, Pct. 4

County Commissioner, Pct. 4 Update | June 14-18, 2021

Frio Tax Assessor-Collector Anna Alaniz presents to Dilley City Council on June 14.


While roads and bridges are the most visible aspect of commissioner business, our oversight duties encompass every department in Frio. Over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of assisting Frio Tax Assessor-Collector Anna Alaniz in an administrative move that will benefit all Precinct 4 residents while lowering costs for the city of Dilley and Dilley ISD.

Currently, Frio County residents pay property taxes to two different collection entities: the Frio Appraisal District and the Frio Tax Assessor Collector Office. Any Precinct 4 resident that prefers to pay their county, hospital, and other taxes in person can visit the Frio Dilley annex building (more commonly known in Dilley as “the place you get your stickers”). Meanwhile, paying city of Dilley and Dilley ISD property taxes in person requires travel to the appraisal district office in Pearsall. It’s inconvenient and causes confusion.

Pending Commissioners Court approval, Precinct 4 residents will be able to pay all Frio County property taxes at the Dilley Annex building.

The new tax collection agreement will enable Precinct 4 property taxpayers to pay all Frio County property taxes, including city of Dilley and Dilley ISD taxes, at the Frio Dilley Annex building- no more trips to Pearsall. To make the service more accommodating, Tax Assessor-Collector Anna Alaniz has expanded the Dilley office hours from three days a week to five days a week. Furthermore, the city of Dilley and Dilley ISD will pay about 30% less for collection services by contracting with the Tax Assessor-Collector office rather than the appraisal district. The appraisal district is a willing participant in this deal, which allows them to concentrate on appraisals- their intended function.

The new agreement was approved by the Dilley City Council on June 14 and Dilley ISD School Board on June 21st. Commissioners Court is expected to pass our end of the agreement at the next regular meeting in July. It will go into effect October 1st.


Lab Testing
County Engineer Roxana “Roxi” Garcia, Road & Bridge Supervisor Ancelmo “Chemo” Ornelas, Building Maintenance Supervisor Tommy Navarro, and I visited Gessner Engineering this week- the consultant Frio County uses for material lab samples.

Various material types.

Gessner Engineering was contracted to sample soil on the Keystone Road project. Roxi and Chemo explained that the soil on one side of Keystone is river rock, but on the opposite end, the soil is sandy. They knew the sandy soil would have to be cement treated to provide a solid foundation for the road material. Gessner performed the test that provided guidance on the proper formula and application of cement for the specific soil. It is this proffesionalization of the Road & Bridge department that will lead to longer lasting roads, and more effective maintenance.

Gessner will also test foundation materials for the upcoming Frio County/Camino Real building project. Pictured: Cement cores soaking before the pressure test.

Road Report
Some of the work done by Frio County Road & Bridge in Precinct 4 for the week ending Friday June 18th:

Hauled millings to CR3715 (Schorp), CR 4614 (Klopek)
Hauled Base to CR3715 (Schorp), CR3701 (Lovers Ln)
Patched roads in Hilltop area, CR4677 (Ventura Gonzales), CR4614 (Klopek), CR4670 (Hugo)
Graded CR4629 (Herwig), CR4642 (Birdwell), CR4614 (Klopek), CR4675 (Good), CR4450 (Charolais), CR4889 (Viviano Gonzales), CR3715 (Schorp)
Brush Cutting CR3801 (Proctor)
Shredding/Weed-eating CR4670 (Hugo), CR4675 (Good),
Inspected CR4885 (Hurt), CR4670 (Hugo), CR4843 (Urban), CR4520 (Panther Hollow), CR4500 (Bohannon), CR4515 (Massey), CR4614 (Klopek), CR4425 (Derby), CR4429 (Topperwein)
Picked up Trash on CR3801 (Proctor) and other areas of Precinct 4
Welding at jail by Road & Bridge crew

I’ve decided on beginning each week’s report with a “some of the work” disclaimer. I’m listing the work that is most visible to residents of Precinct 4, but there are lots of parts to this machine. For instance…

In this week’s report I included inspections by Roadways Crew Chief Pete Hernandez. I typically leave these off the report because inspections don’t always lead to work. However, last week had a heavy amount of maintenance done away from city limits and I want to assure residents that we do actively keep tabs on those roads.

An employee of Road & Bridge Special Crews team did road patching last week and spent four days welding at the jail. The welding work wasn’t in Precinct 4 but that was an employee that could have been used on roads. The county engineer and road administrator approve the jail work of course, because it’s in everyone’s interest for county departments to assist each other, and we’re confident the Sheriff’s Office will return the favor when called upon.

And this says nothing of the mechanics who maintain the trucks and heavy equipment, the constant maintenance of road signs, the buildings crew that looks after our facilities, and the office and administrative staff that keep everyone scheduled and everything documented…

written by Jose Asuncion, County Commissioner, Pct. 4

County Commissioner, Pct. 4 Update | June 7-11, 2021


Some of the work done by Frio County Road & Bridge in Precinct 4 for the week ending Friday June 11th:

Hauled millings to CR3715 (Schorp) and from various TxDOT stockpiles/Vulcan Materials to county yards in preparation for continuing patching/grading
Patched CR4670 (Hugo), CR4614 (Klopek), CR4675 (Good)
Graded CR4670 (Hugo), CR4538 (Old Divot Hwy), CR4629 (Herwig), CR3871 (Hindes), CR4757 (Leona River)
Shredding  CR4670 (Hugo)
Septic Inspections
Vector Control/Mosquito Spraying

Last week, I met with Zavala Pct. 1 Commissioner Joe Cruz. We share Leona River Road, and talked about ways we can work together to maintain the road for our constituents.

Zavala County, Pct. 1 Commissioner Joe Cruz at Leona River Road.

Millings in position:

Schorp Road


Road and Bridge sprayed for mosquitos on county roads close to Dilley, including Hilltop and other areas:

Good Road near Hugo was prone to flooding, leading to damage. Material was added to the low point:

Removing excess dirt, silt, and growth from the edges of the road after the rains to maintain the edge-to-edge clearance:


Sweeping excess dirt and debris in preparation for patching
Good Road
Klopek Road

written by Jose Asuncion, County Commissioner, Pct. 4
photos by Jose Asuncion, Anthony Gonzales, and Joe Louis Hernandez Jr.

County Commissioner, Pct. 4 Update | May 24 – June 5, 2021


Heavy rains returned for several days over the past few weeks, affecting roads all over Frio County. Some of the work done by Frio County Road & Bridge in Precinct 4 for the two week period ending Friday June 4th:

Hauled millings to CR3715 (Schorp), CR4885 (Hurt), CR4757 (Leona River) CR4670 (Hugo)
Patched CR4670 (Hugo)
Graded CR4715 (Pacho Garcia), CR4701 (Ayala), CR 4714 (Orndoff), CR4670 (Hugo), CR3715 (Schorp), CR4815 (Moffet)
Brush Cutting CR3843 (Burns), CR4450 (Guajardo),
Septic Inspections
Tree and Branch Pick up

Trees that initially survived but were weakened by the storms are still making their way into county roads….
Patching on Hugo Rd, Thursday June 3rd
Temporary patches were applied to Hugo Rd until a more permanent solution can be determined for areas consistently affected by drainage issues…


In a future post, I’ll talk more about the magnificent work done by the new Frio County Events Committee for employees and for the community. In the meantime, I’ll just say that I’m proud to be part of the team.

On Saturday, June 5th, the Frio County Events Committee organized and hosted an Auto Show, attended by 40 vehicles, with vendors, food, and music…


written by Jose Asuncion, County Commissioner, Pct. 4

Frio Road & Bridge | Precinct 4 Update | June 1, 2021

I asked Commissioner Joe Vela, Pct. 1, how residents liked his weekly newspaper column. Personally, I thought it was a good idea, and had been thinking about borrowing his concept.

“The people have to know,” he told me.

After Commissioner Vela’s May 27th column, I asked him if I could post a follow up. Instead of simply highlighting county road problems, I thought it was necessary to communicate how Road & Bridge plans to address them.

Commissioner Joe Vela’s May 27th Column

In addition to Commissioners Court meetings, we hold workshops– marathon meetings to discuss specific topics. So far this year, we’ve held two on the topic of Road & Bridge. The last Road & Bridge workshop was on May 20th, and we specifically addressed Goldfinch Road. Goldfinch Road is scheduled for a road rehabilitation project in the new fiscal year (October 2021-September 2022), unless Commissioners rearrange priorities based on unexpected damage elsewhere, or a significant drop in property tax revenue that forces project cuts.

If you’re curious to see how Road & Bridge dialogues with Commissioners Court, you can watch our 3-hour May 20th workshop here.

On a regular schedule, road maintenance is a full-time effort. But an unusual number of extreme storms this year has set back the maintenance program. Winter storm Uri’s freeze and thaw required an unscheduled response from Road & Bridge crews, compounded by heavy rains. May’s wake low wind storm pummeled trees into the roads, and clogged drainage systems across the county, using up Road & Bridge staff and equipment.

San Miguel Creek after the wake low storm.
Cleaning up San Miguel Creek.

Once the trees were cleared and the drainage systems cleaned of major obstructions county-wide, Road & Bridge moved on to road patching. Depending on when you read this, Road & Bridge already patched or will patch storm damage in all precincts, including the aforementioned Goldfinch Road.

Last year, Ancelmo “Chemo” Ornelas was promoted to Road & Bridge Supervisor. He knew the county’s long-time process for patching potholes wasn’t working.

“Just putting coal mix in the hole is not working, and hasn’t been for years,” he said. He remembered some lessons from the county engineer that had worked for Frio years ago- lessons that were promptly abandoned upon that same engineer’s firing. Under the direction of the current County Engineer Roxana Garcia, who started at the end of July 2019, Chemo works on re-training the crew on patching.

First, the hole is cleaned, a new step in the process. Then, the hole and fill material is treated with a tack emulsion- a sticky substance to hold the material together, in place, in the hole.

“It’s like a Rice Krispy Treat” County Engineer Roxana Garcia explained in layman’s terms. The added emulsion keeps water from penetrating the hole and displacing the fill material, she said, which is why Road & Bridge patches had been less than effective for so long.

Eventually, Chemo is going to add “squaring” the holes as part of the process, but can’t spare the added time right now due to overwhelming demand from the storms.

Hurt Road was not on Frio County’s project list for this fiscal year. But regular maintenance failed to stave off damage to the road. And then an unexpected increase in traffic due to an oil pad site installation caused the holes in the road to become a serious danger. Last month, Road & Bridge started a rehabilitation on Hurt Road.

Today, the Hurt Road project is about three-quarters complete. It’s another place where County Engineer Roxana Garcia and Road & Bridge Supervisor Acelmo “Chemo” Ornelas have made improvements to road work methods.

Hurt Road prepped for rehabilitation
Hurt Road in progress
Completed portion of Hurt Road

Previously, Road & Bridge used soft rock on road rehabilitation jobs. Soft rock, according to County Engineer Roxana Garcia, will either powder when graded or break into sharp flints that damage tires.

This time around Road & Bridge Supervisor Ancelmo “Chemo” Ornelas used millings donated* by TxDOT rather than soft rock, and the difference is immediately apparent. The plan is to build roads that last longer, “paving” the way for a more effective maintenance schedule…

written by Jose Asuncion, County Commissioner, Pct. 4

*”Donated” doesn’t mean “free.” Donated material has to be hauled from location, which can be as far as San Antonio, and then stored. We opted to use Road & Bridge crews over hauling contractors. But even that has a cost- labor hours, equipment hours, and fuel. The hauling has taken months, but the payoff of higher quality materials has been evident.