Jim Hogg County Commissioners Out of the Loop on Raven Refinery

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LAREDO, Texas (KGNS) - The proposed refinery out in Duval County has been at the center of many discussions including one that happened inside the Jim Hogg County Courthouse Monday.

Although a public notice posted around town announced that a meeting with Raven officials was scheduled at the courthouse April 18th, it was hastily moved to the home of the Jim Hogg County Judge. Many were left out of that meeting, including commissioners from that county. They discussed this during their regularly scheduled meeting Monday.

"It is very unfair that we have gotten some negative publicity, and the commissioners are being kept out of the loop," exclaimed Commissioner Humberto Martinez. Upset and uninformed -- this is how Jim Hogg County Commissioners feel asking questions of an empty chair. Judge Humberto Gonzalez was absent from the meeting for personal reasons, but Commissioner Sandalio Ruiz wants to know what happened when he was present at the April 18th meeting in Judge Gonzalez' home. An item was placed on the agenda requesting information of what happened in the meeting involving the judge, local business owners, and a Raven representative. Missing an invitation to that meeting were the commissioners.

Martinez emphasized in the meeting, "I do want to make the public aware that the four commissioner sitting at the table today are not in the loop on a lot of things being discussed. In fact, I think the public knows more than we do."

They say it's not the first time it's happened. Commissioner Ruiz says his constituents are approaching him but he doesn't have answers to their questions like, "What is going on? Are they going to build where they're going to build? How many jobs are going to come here?"

Commissioners know the refinery will benefit Duval County with taxes, but by attending meetings with Raven they hope to hear about the refinery benefits for them. Ruiz says, "I'm for conserving the environment. We also need jobs. If they can come hand in hand, that'll be great."

Because they've been left out of that conversation, they have attended the meeting in Bruni against it. For now, the discussion is tabled, but the question remains. "Why are we left out in the dark? Simple as that," says Ruiz.

We reached out to Judge Humberto Gonzalez for comment but there has been no response yet.

Commissioner Humberto Martinez is also requesting the court talks about what happens in between meetings from now on.

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