Brewster County Commissioners held a regular meeting on Feb. 12 and County Judge Eleazar Cano and Commissioner, Pct. 2, Sara Allen Colando had a steady exchange of opinions about the topic of the health and safety of South Brewster County visitors.
Cano expressed deep concern about liability issues, saying, “What if somebody has a heart attack or gets bitten by a snake or a spider? In the type of society that we live in, liability is everywhere. We are collecting hotel-motel money. In talking to the attorneys, there is some culpability for the county to do everything we can within our control.”
Colando then said that the Airbnb’s vacation rentals do not require, but strongly recommend, that hosts provide emergency information to all their guests. She emphasized the importance of not relying on mobile phones, GPS devices, or computer mapping devices.
Said Colando, “Having guests die is bad for business, and a lot of these hosts and rental property managers are very much aware of this.”
Colando also pointed out that Cano seemed more concerned with tourists than locals, but the judge replied that locals understand their limitations, and tourists do not. Colando said plenty of hotel-motel tax money was being spent on advertising to bring tourists to South County, and more safety information should be provided for visitors new to the area.
Cano said he would reach out to Brewster County Tourism Council Director Robert Alvarez about the issue.
In other business, Brewster County Sheriff Deputy Ryan Skelton asked commissioners for approval of a grant for fiscal year 2020-2021 that supports enhanced cooperation and coordination for border security issues among Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Border Patrol, and local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
County Treasurer Julie Morton specified that the grant is valued at approximately $260,000, and commissioners approved.
In other news, Cano asked Emergency Management Coordinator Stephanie Elmore about train derailment exercises, and Elmore said she is collaborating with Big Bend Regional Hospital for a timeline. Cano expressed concern about a possible trail derailment, saying, “The threat is there. That is something that we need to be more in tune with, because it has happened before.”
Finally, Commissioner, Pct. 3, Ruben Ortega announced that the 15th annual fish fry fundraiser in Marathon on Feb. 8 was a success, netting about $14,000. The popular event also included an auction and a dance, and donations benefitted the Marathon Community Center and Post Park. Back in Alpine happenings, Cano announced that the revamp of county courthouse second floor was complete, and a grand opening and ribbon cutting was planned in a few weeks.
The next regularly scheduled commissioner’s court meeting is set for Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 9:30 a.m. in the commissioner’s courtroom.