May was a transitional month, transitioning from hot to hotter.
Along with the hot weather comes illegal immigrant deaths on private property in South Texas counties. Until there have been legislative changes to the immigration loopholes, a guest worker provision has been included and the border is secure, we will continue to experience these deaths. Because of this issue and the fact that there are so many “dead” spots for communication purposes, we have made it one of our missions to improve communications for landowners who live where these areas exist. Safety of landowners, general public safety, and illegal immigrants that find themselves in dire straits should be recognized and resolved in the Border Patrol checkpoint counties of Kennedy, Brooks, and Jim Hogg; as well as a few other counties.
This issue has concerned many of our members in Brooks and Jim Hogg Counties for some time. We addressed our concerns with Border Patrol and other county law enforcement and found that AT&T had won the contract for FirstNet.
FirstNet is a law enforcement/first responder communications system that was designed as a result of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The purpose was to enable first responders to communicate on one designated system, to prevent the loss of life that occurred to first responders on 9/11.
FirstNet’s mission is to deploy, operate, maintain, and improve the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. Gov. Abbott opted Texas into the system in September of last year; and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) has been given the responsibility of managing it for the state.
I contacted the DPS director, Steven McCraw, and asked that he look into how the system could be expedited in certain South Texas counties, where their maps show it’s most needed. I will be meeting with DPS Regional Director, Jose Rodriguez next week as a result of our outreach to Director McCraw. I’ll keep you updated.
In addition to communication, there are some landowner transportation challenges. The STPRA transportation subcommittee and other affected members will be strategizing to address landowner concerns from Falfurrias to Edinburg on Hwy 281. Hwy 281 will soon be upgraded to the future I69 Interstate. Landowners along this stretch of road can expect to have to travel several miles or more to turn around in order to head in the opposite direction, as per TxDOT’s schematics. Closer turn-arounds would be more practical, not only for the landowner, but also for law enforcement and first responders. Two lane access roads will be requested, as will opposing the addition to a new rest stop that would take new right-of-way. It is an hour’s drive from Falfurrias to Edinburg and there’s already a rest stop south of Falfurrias.
We are very much looking forward to our Annual Meeting and Fundraiser on October 11th! In addition to Wyman Meinzer’s presentation, we will be featuring a few of our priority issues during the speaker portion, those being Border Security, Eminent Domain, and Water Regulation/Conservation.
Please let us know if you have any speaker suggestions that represent any one of these issues.
Join us as we continue to pray for rain!
Until next month,
Susan J. Kibbe
Office (361) 348-3020