More than 72 people showed up to discuss a course of action to stop a proposal by Refugio County Judge Rene Mascorro to build a multi-purpose dome in Refugio.
The crowd overwhelmingly spoke out against using taxpayer money to fund the structure.
“We need to be aware and stand up for what’s right,” said Jimmy Blaschke who moderated the meeting.
Mascorro unveiled the proposal at the Refugio ISD board of trustees meeting two weeks ago. The judge’s plan is to construct a dome that will be used as an Emergency Operations Center and high school gymnasium. The judge failed to vent the idea to all the commissioners prior to the RISD meeting, leaving several commissioners and residents unaware.
Blaschke told the crowd nobody is “faulting the school board” for a good deal for them.
At the town hall meeting, Blaschke urged the crowd to attend a commissioners meeting on Monday afternoon at 2 o’clock. According to the posted agenda, the court will meet in executive session.
A week ago, the judge said he would present the proposal to the commissioners court at its regular meeting on Nov. 13. Television crews showed up at the courthouse on Friday and residents began calling officials in opposition, according to the crowd, many of whom thought the outcry spurred Monday’s meeting.
The moderator suggested that residents sign up to speak during the public comment session before the commissioners go behind closed doors today (Monday, Nov. 5).
“Please call the judge’s office... if all of you attend the meeting tomorrow, I hope there will be no way any of them will vote for this,” Blaschke said.
Last Monday, the judge said three months of county revenues, amounting to $200,000, would be used to pay for the loan in the form of certificates of obligations.
One businessman in the crowd Sunday suggested that income simply doesn’t appear out of nowhere.
“Somebody is trying to slide this under the rug,” another said.
“Maybe it’s time to change directions on the top end,” said a resident.
Former Commissioner Janis Gillespie called the secrecy surrounding the judge’s plan “a conspiracy.”
One resident mentioned that the county should spend the money on more pressing issues including employees’ health insurance coverage which was dropped by the county last year, and black mold reportedly in the air conditioning system along with structural problems that need to be corrected.
“The courthouse is falling down around them,” a resident said.
Commissioner Stanley Tuttle told the crowd he only became aware of the proposal from Refugio residents following the RISD meeting. Saying he was not acting in an official capacity, Tuttle said a purchasing agent estimated the cost of installing artificial turf at $660,000 to $1.2 million.
“I’ve also been told (the judge) has a donor for the other $500,000,” Tuttle said.
“It’s time to say no; it doesn’t smell right,” Blaschke said.
Should the plan go forward, the Bobcat practice field from the east end of Jack Sportsman Bobcat Stadium to Hwy. 183 will be turned over to the county as a location for the dome. In exchange for the land, artificial turf will be installed on the football field.
The dome, if built, would be the second in Refugio County. The first dome, built in Woodsboro by a grant from FEMA, was completed less than a year ago. The proposed Refugio Dome would be paid for out of taxpayer money.