City, county in talks to annex Expo Center

Bee County Judge Trace Morrill addresses the Beeville City Council Oct. 27 about the county's desire to have the Bee County Expo Center annexed into the city limits. 

BEEVILLE – The boundaries of the city soon could expand to include the Bee County Expo Center on Farm-to-Market Road 351.

Bee County Judge Trace Morrill said the county – which owns the facility – seeks to have the property annexed into the city limits. 

“Back in the early 2000s, when the Bee County Courthouse was being renovated, they annexed the Expo Center (temporarily) for the purpose of allowing jury trials to be held out there,” he said. “The rules are that trials must be held in the city limits.”

Morrill said that many of the restrictions placed on jury trials amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be lifted Dec. 1.

City Secretary Gabriela Hernandez said the county would have to submit a formal request for the Expo Center site to be annexed and then two public hearings would be held before the council votes on the matter.

Also during the meeting, Tracy Florence, executive director and chief executive officer of the Bee County Chamber of Commerce, addressed the council about the city’s contract with the chamber and visitor center. The organization receives funding from the city which, according to Mayor Pro Tem Benny Puente Jr., totaled $140,000 in the last agreement between the two entities.

Puente, who said he is the longest-serving member of the current council, said he does not see the value in the chamber.

“We’ve been making cuts all over,” he said. “This is one of the places we need to cut.

“We had a plan five years ago for the chamber to wean themselves off the large amount we give them every year.”

Mayor Francisco Dominguez said, “I’d like to see the chamber become more self sufficient as well, but I see that it is definitely needed.”

Instead of an annual contract, Florence asked the council to consider a three-year contract, which would allow the chamber to be able to budget ahead for future events.

But Councilman Ford Patton moved to table the discussion while a one-year agreement is created, which includes the city making payments on a quarterly basis. The motion passed unanimously.

In other business, the council voted to establish a school zone on East Corpus Christi Street, between Harrison and Buchanan streets.

wgibbs@mysoutex.com

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