ROBSTOWN, Texas — Before Wednesday, it had been more than two years since Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales last delivered a State of the County address.
A lot has happened since Canales' last State of the County address in May 2019. Her message: The county is doing well as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From the coast to the country, your county is strong,” Canales said during her more-than-an-hourlong address.
While Canales believes the state of the county is strong, that doesn't mean there aren't challenges. First and foremost: the pending split of the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District.
Canales said it’s still too early to know what the future of public health in Nueces County will look like after the split. She said, however, she is hopeful the city and county can find a way to continue working together for the good of every resident from Corpus Christi to Las Colonias.
“My wish is to stay united because a health district serves a region,” Canales said. “To think otherwise is to not understand our make-up.”
Canales had plenty to celebrate during her address. Specifically, a 27-percent increase in the county's cash reserves since she took office. That, despite the county lowering taxes every year.
One reason: $94 million in federal funding since the start of 2020 to help pay for her vision.
“The examples that we put forth really demonstrate those partnerships exist at all levels, and they're not handed to you,” Canales said. “They're given to those who are ready and prepared.”
That vision includes improving drainage in rural Nueces County. In 2021, Nueces, Jim Wells, and Kleberg counties received funding for a regional drainage study. Next year will see the county ask its rural residents for their input.
“We're going to get to those big projects,” Canales said. “In the meantime, we're going to meet people where they live, ask them where those problems are because they know them best.”
Canales believes it's a 'new day' Nueces County, and not only is the future strong; It's also bright.
“You’ve got be both — a realist and a dreamer — in order to forge a better future,” she said. “I think today, we've shown we can be both.”
Canales is also excited about the new and improved Bob Hall Pier. She said the public will get its first look at the proposed project in January, a project which she said incorporated a lot of public input.
Canales also announced that the military is coming back to help the county.
Last summer, National Guard medical units visited Las Colonias, providing free medical care and other services. Canales said those units will be back this summer. She said the military came away from last summer impressed with the county as a host, and saw a need for more help.
“It says you have great need and you're also the perfect place for us, the Department of Defense, to train for our future soldiers,” Canales said.
Canales added that Navy Seabees will also return to help the county build roads.