County to redefine role of Historical Commission after ethics investigation and leadership

County to redefine role of Historical Commission after ethics investigation and leadership

El Paso County commissioners will take a closer look at the role that the El Paso County Historical Commission plays in our community. On Monday morning, El Paso County commissioners will look to define the Historical Commission's purpose and programs. One recommendation example reads the board needs to complete required training and maintain compliance with the Texas Open Meetings Act.

The County Historical Commission is being investigated right now by the Texas Rangers for a potential ethics violation that stems from a potentially illegal email vote surrounding the arena location. Two of the group's leaders, former Vice President Dr. Max Grossman and former President Bernie Sargent, were not reappointed to the commission. County commissioners told CBS4 it was largely because of that potential Open Meetings Act violation, initiated by Sargent.

The newly appointed Historical Commission submitted its recommendation to define the board's purpose. It reads:

"The purpose of this Commission is to take a leadership role to initiate and conduct programs to preserve the cultural and historical resources of El Paso County.

1. The Commission shall carry out a continuing survey to determine the existence of historical buildings and sites, archeological sites, endangered properties or other historical features within the county.

2. The Commission shall strive to create countywide awareness and appreciation of historic preservation and its benefits and uses.

3. The Commission shall work to promote historic and cultural sites in the county to develop and sustain heritage tourism."

One recommendation example from the county commissioners' agenda states the board should do the following:

1. Obtain training from the Texas Historic Commission on techniques and methods to survey and determine the existence of historic buildings and other historical and archeological sites, collections, endangered properties, or other historical features.

2. Identify an area of the community to survey and develop a plan for future areas to survey.

3. Use the techniques learned to survey the area identified.

4. Report data collected to Commissioners Court and the THC.

It seems the newly elected leadership hopes to continue the work of the old board. The new chair, Joe Nebhan, said he personally wants to stop the city from building an arena in Union Plaza to protect the historical buildings. The county commissioners will meet at the county courthouse at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

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