Voters in Bishop, Driscoll and Petronila overwhelmingly approved the creation of a new Emergency Services District on Saturday, while Bishop City Council incumbents retained their seats in office.
The proposition to create Emergency Services District No. 6 was approved by voters in a landslide victory for supporters of the measure, with 772 voting in favor of the proposition and 17 against.
More than half of the total votes cast for the proposition, 416, were done in early voting.
Wesley Rogers, a former Bishop city council member and mayor, said he and other supporters of the proposition's passage were thrilled to see it approved so overwhelmingly by voters.
"It should be telling all these elected officials that this is what they should have been focusing on for a while," he said. "We're ecstatic about it."
Residents in Bishop, Petronila and Driscoll have been campaigning since last year to have the new ESD formed, with some sharing stories of how not having a dedicated ambulance service affected them. Before this year, those areas had to rely on Emergency Medical Service responders from Kingsville and Robstown, both of which have ceased responding to calls from the rural areas of Nueces County.
During a meeting with Nueces County Commissioners earlier this year, Sheila Clint, a rural Nueces County resident, said she lost her husband in April 2009 because of the lack of an ambulance service and John Thomas, a fire commissioner, said he had to wait 45 minutes for an ambulance from Kingsville to arrive at his home while he suffered a heart attack.
A Medical Reserve Corps, along with a privately contracted EMS service, has been installed in Driscoll for the time-being. The EMS service, which has a $174,000 cost, is being funded through an interlocal agreement and private donations and will be in place until the end of December.
On Wednesday, Nueces County Commissioners selected five individuals to serve on the ESD's five-member Board of Emergency Services Commissioners.
Representing the City of Bishop are Marilyn Moerbe and Gracie Barreto, while Petronila will be represented by Bill Ordner. The City of Driscoll will be represented by Armandina Garcia, and the unincorporated areas by Donald McNair.
The new board will likely meet sometime next week, Rogers said, in order to adopt the board's bylaws, as well as the ESD's tax rate. That likely will be somewhere between 5 and 6 cents per $100 valuation, Rogers said, though a final rate has yet to be decided.
The new ESD will not be able to collect tax revenue until January 2011.
A permanent group of ESD Commissioners will be elected at the beginning of January, as well.
"It's going to be an interesting next 120 days," Rogers said. "But, hell, we did it."
Also on Saturday, voters in Bishop opted to keep two incumbents up for re-election in office. Mayor Victor Ramos defeated challenger, and fellow council member, Antonio Garcia Jr., receiving 292 votes to 178 for Garcia.
In the race for Council Member Place 4, incumbent LeeRoy Kieschnick was victorious over challenger Benito Reyes Jr. Kieschnick received 278 votes to Reyes' 221.
There was no opponent in the race for Council Member Place 2, but incumbent Rafaelita Cardenas was the night's leading vote-getter with 399 votes.
Editor's Note: The online version of this story updates the print version with the results of Wednesday's Nueces County Commissioners Court meeting that led to the appointments of five ESD No. 6 Board of Emergency Services Commissioners.