Rio Grande Herald (Rio Grande City, Tex.), Vol. 86, No. 51, Ed. 1 Thursday, December 23, 1999 Page: 1 of 6
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Escamilla resigns after
$60,000 package okayed
BY KENNETH ROBERTS
Suspended City Administrator
Jose Escamilla submitted a letter of
resignation to The Rio Grande City .
Board of Aldermen at Thursday
night's special meeting after a 4-1
majority of aldermen agreed to grant
Escamilla a package of almost
$60,(XX) according to the terms of
his original contract.
The settlement calls for paying
Escamilla six months salary at
$35,000, with $20,000 to be paid
by Monday, Dec. 20. Vacation pay,
health insurance and other aspects
bring the package total to almost
$60,000. The remainder of the
package will be paid to Escamilla
within 60 days.
The agreement was approved by a
4-1 margin, with Alderman Ricardo
Gutierrez expressing strong
opposition. The 4-1 vote favoring
the agreement took place after an
executive session of 20 to 25
minutes to consult with the city
After the executive session,
Mayor Baldemar Gar/a emphasized,
"I disagree with this motion. We
are not getting anything out of this.
Garza later commented to The
Rio Grande Herald, "Mr. Escamilla
had two years to go on his contract.
We're going to pay him close to
560,000 and won't get anything in
return. I think he should have ben
able to train someone."
Mayor Pro Tem Lauro Lopez
declared on Friday, "As far as I can
tell, the people of the community
are happy that he made this choice.
The problem was that he was not
living here and was not working
full-time. In his resignation letter,
Escamilla was sharply critical of
the majority of the aldermen,
insisting that they had attempted in
recent weeks to "micro-manage" the
city in a manner harmful to the
city's well-being. He insisted tha
some aldermen had resorted to
intimidation tactics in dealing with
In commenting on Escamilla's
letter, Lopez insisted, "Some of the
tilings in the letter were not correct.
The talk about intimidation was
Mayor Garza offered these
comments to The Herald about
Escamilla's job performance, "I was
satisfied with his job performance..
He helped create, establish and
maintain the Police Department
helped organize a Fire Department
of certified firefighters, and helped
develop the Code Enforcement
About the future, Lopez stressed,
'We're already advertising and
getting inquiries (about the
permanent City Administrator
position). We will name a
committee of citizens (for the
search process). We're going to
move forward with Rio Grande
City." He indicated that both the
Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tern will
serve on the search committee.
Interim City Administrator Jerry
Lozano evaluated the current
situation by saying, "This is a time
of transition. I believe we can all
work together. I'm eager to work
together with everybody.
Differences of opinion don't mean
we can't work together."
When Escamilla's status came up
for discussion, Mayor Garza noted
at the meeting that he had received a
letter from Escamilla, dated Dec. 9,
staling his willingness to resign if
the obligations of his original
contract were fulfilled. Mayor Garza
proceeded to read Escamilla's letter
in its entirety.
Among other things, Escamilla
stated, "I was in the process of
moving to Rio Grande City last
summer. 1 do not wish to work
where I am not wanted...There
appears to be a campaign to
discredit me. Today I am suspended
given,..Apparently the board wants
After the letter was read,
Escamilla insisted, "Running a city
is complicated and takes a lot of
City attorney James Darling
stated, "My understanding is that if
the board honors the contract, it is
recommended that six months pay
of $35,000 be paid." He indicated
that health insurance, vacation pay
and other benefits brought the total
package 10 almost $60,000.
Garza said, "We can let him go if
six months severance pay is paid
and the rest of the contract is abided
by." Darling responded, "1 can sign
a mutually acceptable release."
Lopez insisted, "He didn't abide
by our request and provide
information requested (about
ongoing projects, land acquisitions,
etc.) by Dec. 14. At that point, a
consensus was reached to move into
executive session to discuss the
situation with legal counsel.
When open session resumed 20
to 25 minutes later, Darling stated,
"The first payment would need to
be made by Monday. The remainder
would be paid over a 60-day
Lopez moved and Alderman
Ruben D. Saenz seconded that the
package approved. Garza said, "The
whole total comes to almost
When asked if the city could
make the First payment of $20,000
by Monday, Financial Officer
Hector Solis indicated, "We met
with the banker and he's willing to
cooperate with us." Mayor Garza
expressed his opposition to the
The aldermen then approved the
motion by a 4-1 margin, with
Alderman Gutierrez expressing his
Escamilla's letter reads as
"In December 1994 we mutually
agreed that I would be hired to
manage the City of Rio Grande and
build the basic structure for the
development of a City. Five years
later I have done exactly that. We
also agreed that when my services
were no longer required, I would
receive a six month severance
package according to the agreed
upon contract. I have worked full
time since the spring of 1995
although my contract only
stipulated that I work 70 percent of
my time. I have always made it a
practice to give more of my time
in anything that I undertake. Those
of you who have worked for the
benefit of the City know that I have
been there at all hours. Recently I
have seen that the city of Rio
Grande has lot acted in kind. I
believe we may have reached an
impasse and I therefore request that
you honor our written agreement.
"We have a five-year history
demonstrating that we can operate a
City without the benefit of ad
valorem taxes I wou'.d remind you
(See ESCAMILLA. Page 2)
RGC aldermen take detailed
look at financial situation
Al their special meeting on
Thursday night, Dec. 16, the Rio
Grande City Board of Aldermen
discussed the city's financial
situation in detail, with Mayor
Baldemar Garza insisting that the
outlook is considerably better than
some arc claiming..
Mayor Garza began discussion by
contending, "The city is not broke,
contrary to what some people are
saying." Financial Officer Hcctor
Solis indicated that revenues for the
Corporation for Fiscal Year 1998-
1999 were roughly $697,000, with
expenses totaling $813,730. He
noted that expenses had been
projected at over $908,000.
Solis added, "Over $130,000 was
budgeted for infrastructure. The
deficit in EDC was $69,000, less
than expccted. We should have
$650,000 in EDC funding,
"«mnared to $750,000 at the start
of 1998-99. The EDC fund was
$41,000 in the red before the sales
tax allocation (in December)."
Solis indicated that General Fund
revenues for 1998-99 were
$2,388,000, with expenses roughly
amounting to $3,367,000. He
indicated that payroll amounts to
roughly $70,000 every two weeks.
Solis added, "The banker is
satisfied with our cash flow. A
check has never bounded and it will
Alderman Lauro Lopez insisted,
"I was concerned after the last
meeting when one of the clerks said
there was no money. The banker
explained how things work."
Attorney James Darling said, "Our
fund balance was $734,000 at the
end of the year." Solis declared,
"We are paying our loans as we
Santa has early arrival in RGC
Santa made an early arrival this year a. District Attorney Heriberto Silva played the role of the jolly old
soul and distributed a truck load of toys to 75 chileiren in the custody of Child Protective Services The toys
wee donated through a charitable organization to give the children hope for a brighter future.
Child dies; mother critically
burned in mobile home fire
A sudden fire late Friday morning
at a mobile home in the La Victoria
area resulted in the death ot a two-
year-old boy and critical burn
injuries to the youngstermother.
The Sheriff's Department
indicated that the body of Jorge
Alfredo Reyes was found after the
fire had been brought under control.
His body was found n the floor of
the east side bedroom. The child
was pronounced dead by J ustice of
the Peace Zarete, who ordered an
The child's mother, Claudia
Lozano, 18, sustained burns to her
face, hands and back. She was
initially transported to Starr County
Memorial Hospital, and later
transferred to the Bum Unit at
Brooks Air Force Base in San
The Sheriffs Department was
noTified on Friday at approximately
11:52 a.m.. that a mobile home in
the La Victoria Ranch area was in
flames. La Victoria Ranch is
located on FM 2360 north of U.S.
Highway 93. Units of the La
Casita, La Grulla and Rio Grande
City Fire Departments quickly
arrived at the scene to fight the
A Sheriff's Department officer
la.er indicataed that the mobile
home was total loss.
Deputies quickly encountered
Claudia Lozano, who stated that
both she and her two-year-old son
were inside the home. Deputies
indicated that Lozano informed
them that she had been awakened by
the fire and was unable to rescue her
Starr County Fire Marshal David
Villarreal and State Fire Marshal
Rick Torres were summoned to
investigate le cause of the blaze.
The Fire Pi trshals are continuing
their respec .ve investigations.
Funeral arrangements for the
child were handled by Hernandez
Trustees officially name Smith
superintendent on permanent basis
Alderman Manuel Canales,
"What was that loan of $100,000?
Did you take out a loan to cover
the $100,000 taken out of the Task
Force? " Solis responded, "We
thought the Task Force was
standard operating funds."
Solis stated that the Public
Utilities Department showed
revenues of roughly $2.2 million in
the recently ended fiscal year and
expenses of approximately $1.9
Solis concluded, 'Right now.
we're in the black in all funds."
Mayor Garza later commented to
the Rio Grande Herald, "Like a
business, the city has its financial
ups and downs. Overall, the picture
is sound. Things arc running tight."
At the EDC meeting earlier,
Solis commented, "Things are
usually tight in the first few
months of the fiscal year, but
(See FINANCIAL, Page 3)
The regular meeting of the Rio
Grande City CISD Board of
Trustees on Tueselay night, Dec. 14
was highlighted by the decision to
officially name Roel R. Smith as
the RGCCISD Superintendent on a
Smith has served as Acting
Superintendent since March 17,
1999. In newspaper advertisements
in October, the trustees indicated
their desire to name Smith as the
permanent superintendent. The
trustees voted in Octobcr that their
intention was to select Smith to
serve as superintendent
Board President Basilio "Bacho"
Villarreal, Jr., noted that the Dcc.
14 action amounted to officially
naming °nith to serve as
RGCCISD superintendent on a
permanent basis. Villarreal
commented, 'I believe he' hAs done
a gexxl job.'
The trustees approved the
financial audit for the year 1998-99.
Villarreal indicated that CPA Juan
Nunez of Pharr "said it was a very
goexl audit and that tilings have
gotten better from a financial
Villarreal added, "He (the
accountant) said that all but two
deficiencies from the previous audit
had been corrected. The remaining
two financial issues arc in the
process of being addressed . "
Villarreal continued, "From a
financial point of view, he
considered it a very good audit. He
says it's probably the best financial
situation in a number of years."
A report was given concerning
the Gifted and Talented Program.
Villarreal indicated that program
coordinator Edna Gonzalez
"explained where the district has
been in its Gifted and Talented
Program, where it is now, and
where it's going."
Villarreal noted that Career and
Technology Program Director
Arturo Menchaca "explained how
the program can best serve students'
needs in the future, and how
RGCCISD programs can keep up
with modern trends."
At the meeting, district personnel
were recognized for "recruiting and
identifying migrants. These people
were recognized under the Federal
Nine Gladiators awarded
Nine Roma Gladiator football
players received some type of All-
District 30-4A honors for their
performances during the 1999
season, with one of the Valley's
finest wide receivers tecciving
unanimous first team recognition.
Senior wide receiver Octavio
Cantu, Jr., was awareied unanimous
first team honors as he caught 61
passes for 805 yards in 1999. He
also earned Honorable N'ention All-
State plaudits for his numerous
Cantu also received first team
honors in 1998 when he hauled in
40 passes for 736 yards, (Receiving
statistics from the 1998 Edcouh
Elsa game were unavailable ana not
Offensive players winning second
team honors were junior quarterback
Frank Trcvino and senmr wide
receiver Omar Mireles. Ttevino was
a prolific passer for virtually the
entire season, and Mireles'
receiving achievements were nearly
a-; impressive as Cantu's. Mireles
also received second team
recognition in 1998 when he snared
more than 30 passes for over 400
Junior offensive tackle Arturo
Lozano, a starter for the last two
seasons, was awarded Honorable
Gladiator defenders winning
second team recognition were junior
cornerback Angel Carvajal, senior
linebacker Alan Ruiz, junior
linebacker Ricky Fernandez and
junior defensive lineman Abram
Sophomore linebacker Jose Luis
Martinez gained Honorable Menuon
plaudits for his 1999 performance.
Frank Trcvino was also honored
as the sccond team All-District
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Roberts, Kenneth. Rio Grande Herald (Rio Grande City, Tex.), Vol. 86, No. 51, Ed. 1 Thursday, December 23, 1999, newspaper, December 23, 1999; Edinburg, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth195736/m1/1/: accessed February 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Rio Grande City Public Library.