August 18 Letters to the Editor


We live on the south side of Alpine, in an old adobe house about one block from the proposed Chisos Brewery. It’s a quiet historic Hispanic neighborhood with homes here that have been in families for generations, in some cases with multiple generations living together. We all enjoy our homes, families, friends and neighborhood in this quiet alcove in the desert. Every town wants economic growth and so do we. But at what cost? We need to look at the consequences of putting a brewery in the location in which it is planned. Especially since it is in a neighborhood.

Breweries consume an enormous amount of water; standard production uses seven gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer. Some ratios are thought to be much higher. There are 31 gallons of beer in a barrel. There is additional water usage for cooling and cleaning the tanks. Many municipalities are beginning to characterize craft breweries as significant industrial water users.

The state of Texas is in an extreme drought and water is becoming more of an issue for Alpine. Remember, we live in a desert. The City of Alpine has requested a voluntary reduction of watering our yards, and they acknowledge the lowering water in the city wells. This might be the first step for tighter water restrictions in our town. Also, the south side has historically low water pressure – what will this amount of commercial water pull do to the homes in the neighborhood with already low pressure?

Then there is waste water that breweries produce. There are several options for this and each one has consequences for the homes surrounding the brewery.

Option 1: Putting the waste water, which is considered toxic by the state, down the sewer system in Alpine.

Our antiquated system can not handle the waste water of the brewery. The director of utilities has stated that Alpine will not allow the waste water of the brewery to go down our drains. They will be able to use the sewer system for their tap room and event center.

Option 2: You can have the waste water hauled away, as many breweries do.

Option 3: Waste water treatment system. If this is the process they decide to use, this has many issues for a neighborhood. The Texas Commission for Environment Quality would have to permit this system. There are homes directly next to the brewery that will be able to smell the waste water. How close can a waste water treatment system be to homes?

Traffic on a residential street is also a concern. There’s a sign on Murphy Street that says “No Truck Route Ordinance Enforced.” But beer is made from grains, and trucks need to bring in grains and other trucks need to take waste water out.

The proposed brewery is a large two-story metal and stucco building, and the plans include an outdoor tower for stargazing. This is an invasion of privacy for the homes and yards of the surrounding residences. It is inappropriate for strangers to be able to view our lives from a tower when we are at the comfort of our homes. All residences deserve the “quiet enjoyment” of home.

Noise is also a concern for the neighborhood. The Fielders have put up an 8-foot metal fence, but non absorptive metal barriers can cause the sound to reflect into areas in an unexpected and unpredictable manner. This makes for unhappy neighbors and potential conflicts with community noise standards.

Residents rely on the protections created by the city’s zoning ordinances, and this neighborhood is zoned as residential/commercial. As determined by the City of Alpine: “This zone is intended to provide for the establishment of the restricted commercial facilities, to serve the conveniences of needs of the immediate neighborhood, and these uses generally result in limited traffic generation.” A brewery would require a change to industrial zoning, which would violate the spirit of the ordinance.

Economic growth is good for the city of Alpine, but costs to the citizens must be considered. The Chisos Brewery is not a good thing for the historical Hispanic neighborhood. Will gentrification happen in this neighborhood? One Marfa in West Texas is enough. Perhaps a brewery would be more suited on the outskirts of town, but that still does not solve the water problem, which is only growing.

It’s the responsibility of the city council, mayor and city government officials to learn and look at all the issues that an industry brings to a town. It’s the duty and responsibility of the planning and zoning, city council and mayor to be informed on the issues and make decisions in the best interest of all citizens of Alpine.

Please rethink this proposed brewery.

Paula Wilson


Dear Editor,

The August 4, 2022, edition of the Jeff Davis County Mountain Dispatch had an article about the proposed community center to which we are responding. Tate Dillard, publisher of the Mountain Dispatch, refused to publish our last letter dated July 14, 2022, since he stated that we were submitting it to The Big Bend Sentinel. Why would he do that? 

Other than an “exclusive” group of real estate and construction folks, the vast majority of citizens in the county will not be beneficiaries of this proposed center. 

Unrealistic expectations and questionable assumptions include the following: 

  1. A proposal to fund computer IT services in the amount of $50-75,000, which is totally unnecessary in view of duplication of existing resources that exist at the library and the public schools. How frequently are all the PCs in the library being utilized at once? All students in the school district have access to PCs per the superintendent. 
  2. How much demand will there be for remote educational programs sponsored by Sul Ross, when continuing education courses are almost nonexistent at the current Alpine campus? 
  1. What need is there for an evacuation facility, when we have several other properly designated facilities throughout the area?
  2. The proposal to establish a senior citizen site, when folks (who are likely to be mobility impaired) requiring these services would be unable to use the facility. 
  3. Where is the data showing the revenues generated by this proposed center would cover all costs and encourage local business growth? 
  4. How many people will utilize this facility when there are other similar facilities available such as the Prude Ranch, Indian Lodge, Sproul Ranch or Mountain Trails Lodge? How often are these facilities being used and operating at full capacity? Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce could actively recruit business for these other facilities, without frivolously spending taxpayer funds. 
  5. There is not enough lodging and restaurant capacity to support a proposed convention center that such sporadic activity would generate. Even during Camp Meeting there were restaurants closed. 
  6. To date, there have not been any final numbers provided to indicate the costs to complete this facility. Is it realistic to expect charitable foundations to fully fund a project of unknown costs and benefits? 

Some other issues arising from the county government include the following: 

  1. For many years, there have been issues with long-delayed Jeff Davis County audited financial results. A new audit firm was engaged and they were able to produce year-end results for the 2020 tax year in March 2022. A year behind a reasonable schedule. The auditor noted numerous deficiencies included lack of timely department expense reporting and bank reconciliations.  
  2. How do you operate without knowing what state your finances are in? Businesses that operate without timely financial information frequently fail. Is the county planning on an alternative outcome or to increase our local taxes? 
  3. Why are the approved commissioners court meeting minutes not posted and available on the county website? 
  4. The county appears to have no backup for its computer systems and data. This will possibly lead to a catastrophic incident and cause great expense to the county taxpayers. 
  5. The repeated instances of rescheduling commissioners court meetings without giving the required 72-hour notice on the county website. Posting the agendas on the county website should be easy and quick. Who, or what, are they trying to avoid?  
  6. Actions suggesting, or indicating, repeated violations of the Texas Open Meeting Act. 
  7. The use of 70k hotel tax to fund the acquisition of the facility is contrary to the Texas Tax Code Sec. 352.1015 (e) “Revenue derived from the tax authorized by this chapter is to be expended in a manner directly enhancing and promoting tourism and the convention and hotel industry as permitted by the applicable provisions of this subchapter governing the use of revenue by that particular county. That revenue may not be used for the general revenue purposes, or general governmental operations of a county.” HOT funds may not be used for “community centers,” only tourism-linked “convention centers.” The $70k question: Is this facility a “community center” or a “convention center?”  

We are amused, perplexed and somewhat skeptical of the comment in the article stating that “incredibly experienced and knowledgeable people are behind the project and it will be a success.” Under the tutelage of the current regime, the county has been in decline for perhaps 10 years, as evidenced by numerous business closures, reduced population and hotel tax collection issues. To many senior citizens who are passive and feel insulated from further county property tax increases, what guarantees exist that the current over-65 exemption tax freeze will continue in the event the county finds  itself in financial difficulty?  

Dirk McDonald 

Mac Sproul 

Graydon Hicks

Fort Davis