Cleanup has begun in Karnes County after debris from a demolished hospital was wrongly dumped beside the San Antonio River on orders of a county employee.
The supervisor of the county’s roads and bridges department arranged the dumping in a misguided effort to shore up the supports at Wofford’s Crossing, a bridge over the river on County Road 326.
The San Antonio River Authority, however, got involved and said the dumping was illegal.
Last week, Karnes County commissioners voted in an emergency meeting to hire a contractor to clean up the piles of concrete, brick, rebar and other debris and that cleanup started Monday.
Liska Construction has already removed much of the debris and, on Tuesday, was constructing a ramp to allow a backhoe to get closer to the river to remove the remaining debris.
Owner Donnie Liska's dad helped build the bridge so this was a personal mission for him.
"We want nothing but the best for the public and the environment," Liska said.
Asked what he told Karnes County Judge Barbara Shaw about what the area under the bridge was going to look like after he was finished working, Liska said, "It's going to look like a park when we're finished."
Shaw came to the work site Tuesday to check on the progress and was pleased with the work being done.
"It looks great,” Shaw said. “Look at it compared to it did last week. You see a lot of the rubble's gone."
She said removal will cost about $35,000 and there will be more charges for disposal.
But she emphasized that for Karnes County this is an important project.
"This bridge is a legend,” Shaw said. “I mean it's Wofford's Crossing. We've all grown up here. I mean it's part of our history."
Representatives from the San Antonio River Authority were also on the scene Tuesday and were pleased with the progress.
Even Robert Busselman, who lives down from where the dumping took place and who criticized the county last week, was pleased.
"They followed through and they did what they had to do to get it taken care of,” Busselman said. “I'm happy with that, yes I am."
The cleanup could be finished in 10 days.
Karnes County commissioners met Tuesday afternoon to address the fate of the roads and bridges supervisor who ordered the dumping.
By a 3-2 vote, the 15-year county official was fired.