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PAT KOPECKI/Reprints at wilsoncountynews.com
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (District 28) (far left) and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Paco Valentin Jr. wait to be introduced by Stockdale City Manager Banks Akin during a March 14 press conference in Stockdale.
Wilson County News March 28, 2012 3,221 views 1 comment
STOCKDALE -- What will South Texas look like in 30 years, in the wake of the Eagle Ford shale exploration and growth? Even a crystal ball might produce varying images. Certainly, the ongoing exploration is highlighting myriad needs communities will need to address. Official and leaders from the local to national level agreed during a March 14 press conference in Stockdale that housing, water, and education will need to be addressed as exploration continues.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (District 28) and Ruben Hinojosa (District 15) attended the press conference, in which the city of Stockdale and water purveyor Sunko Water Supply Corp. were awarded loans for rural development.
The two congressmen were present, since the recent redistricting will have Hinojosa absorbing 10 percent of Wilson County -- including Stockdale -- into District 15, while Cuellar will retain the remaining 90 percent of the county.
The Eagle Ford shale exploration, called a “blessing” by Cuellar, has brought changes in the two congressional districts. In 2008, 27 oil or gas rigs were recorded in the area. By December 2011, the number had increased to more than 2,950 rigs.
Increased traffic and highway wear and tear are concerns for many officials, but Cuellar identified another challenge -- housing.
Landlords, once charging $500 per month, are now charging $1,000 per month for the same properties, he said, causing problems for lower-income individuals.
Hinojosa, who serves on the education and banking committee, also addressed housing, citing a meeting in San Antonio with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Department of Transportation, which highlighted the increased needs for housing and education.
The Eagle Ford shale exploration will continue for 30 years, Hinojosa said, suggesting communities consider permanent housing instead of recreational-vehicle parks.
“A thousand little trailers that you see all over the area will not last 30 years,” Hinojosa said, “and will not improve the quality of life for the workers and their families.”
As the workers settle into communities, this will increase the demands on school districts, Hinojosa said.
Cuellar also addressed water as “a precious commodity,” and warned a “big fight” lies ahead between metropolitan areas and rural communities.