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We’ve found possible violations of state bidding laws in two school districts trying to keep up with the surge of children in Colony Ridge. That’s the 50-square-mile colonia for illegal immigrants spreading across Liberty County.
We were investigating a contractor named Travis Moore who’s getting millions in contracts from the school districts while he faces a lawsuit for skirting permits and shoddy work.
Lacey page is a hairdresser in Cleveland Texas. A businesswoman with a big dream.
“So, I wanted something that I could build, have a lifestyle, have a livelihood, and then leave it to my children,” expressed Lacey Page.
She’s loved this little city for 25 years.
And she figured what was good for Lacey’s Salon and Spa would be good for the city northeast of Houston too.
“I decided to make it into salon suites where stylists can come in and rent individual rooms,” explained Page.
Lacey’s new salon was to be three quarters of a million dollar investment on Houston Street in the shadow of Cleveland City Hall.
But she says her beautician’s dream salon was botched from the very start and her frustration was captured in a secretly recorded meeting with city of Cleveland officials.
“Please help me. Because I’m telling you, I’m to the point where I’m about to break,” cried Page.
Andrea Palacio asked, “What’s wrong with the building?”
Page replied, “Oh, my god. Everything.”
In November 2021, Lacey signed her building contract with Travis Moore with 4 Moore construction.
“I had never heard anything bad about him. We were friends. We were family friends. They lived across the street from us for probably ten years,” explained Page.
The building was supposed to be finished by September of last year but there were delays, and excuses, and Lacey says she discovered mistake after mistake.
“And then in November, I noticed that he was on vacation, and he was here. He was there, and no one was there working on my building,” recalled Page.
Lacey stopped trusting Travis Moore, she went across the street to City Hall and was shocked by what she saw.
“There was no permits. There was no engineered plans,” explained Page.
After paying Moore’s company more than 300 thousand dollars, she fired him. But her nightmare, it was just beginning.
“The square footage is wrong. The plumbing in the slab is not in the correct area. The bathrooms were not ADA – handicap approved because they were too small. The breaker box. The big, huge breaker box is in a public restroom,” explained Page.
The list goes on and on. She’s having to spend a fortune to fix the mess.
“There is nothing in the building that is up to code per the city of Cleveland,” said Page.
Lacey is now suing Travis Moore and 4 Moore construction for negligence, fraud and breach of contract.
“I’d like to talk to you about your work you’ve done for lacy page… she says you ripped her off,” said Wayne Dolcefino.
“No comment at this time,” replied Travis Moore.
If Moore had followed the city of Cleveland building ordinance, this construction should never have started in the first place.
It’s the city’s job is to enforce permitting requirements. Do inspections. And Shut contractors down for non-compliance.
But they didn’t do any of that and it’s hard to claim they didn’t know what was going on.
“It’s not like you didn’t drive by there every day and see that damn building being erected from start to finish. But you all have the frickin’ audacity to send me this. Y’all want to send me a petty ass letter because my grass was over 12 inches tall,” said Lacey Page in a meeting.
That’s right, the city was more worried about her foot tall weeds!
In February, Lacey met with the city’s now former building inspector Adam Artimez and his boss, current city manager Scott Swigert.
“I’m going to do what I have to do with Travis but help me fix the wrong that on y’all’s end, because this is so wrong on every level,” said Page.
“I agree. I hate that it happened. I’m really sorry that it happened,” said Scott Swigert.
And from this conversation we know that Swigert knew what a mess the city had allowed to happen.
But eleven days later Cleveland City Council picked Travis Moore for a seat on the Zoning Bboard of Adjustments in town, and that brought an angry Lacey Page back to City Council.
“Mr. Travis Moore should not be considered a committee for any zoning or permitting for the city of Cleveland because he himself does not follow the commercial coded in his own construction business,”
“I have been trying to get ahold of you for a while why have you been ignoring us,” said Andrea Palacio.
Swigert replied, “We’re about to have a meeting sorry.”
Andrea continued, “Can you tell me why you didn’t help Lacey Page with her building?”
“We’re about to start a meeting ma’am,” he replied.
Cheyenne Parker from Prime Iron Gym express, “We definitely wanted to keep it in Cleveland. We wanted this small-town vibe to it.””
See this empty lot on the corner of West Dallas and South San Jacinto, the owners of the land blame Travis Moore for screwing up their construction plans.
“It was like a dream thing, you know, we were going to do this or telling everyone we’re doing this. And then it just. All went to crap,” said Sam Parker.
Sam and Cheyenne Parker already own the popular Prime Iron Gym on Bardash, but they were looking to build a bigger place and they were working with Travis Moore.
“He had guaranteed me that nothing would be like no money would exchange hands until the bank approved everything,” continued Sam Parker.
“Right before Christmas. Here’s your invoice. We need it paid now,” recalls Cheyenne.
Before the loan was approved, Moore stunned them with a bill for nearly 9 thousand dollars.
They drained their bank accounts and borrowed the rest from their parents.
“I don’t want to do business with somebody like that. When I’ve told you the plan and you go back on it like that and then demand your money, and then you think I’m going to let you build this big. No, no,” expressed Cheyenne.
The Cleveland School District is exploding in size. Thanks to that 50 square mile development that caters to illegal immigrants. Four new campuses in the past two years. And that’s been a jackpot for 4 Moore Construction and Travis Moore.
Bob Eaton stated, “We use them on just about every renovation project, every portable that we’ve installed. I rely on him to make me look good. So. Yeah.”
According to invoices we obtained from Cleveland ISD, 4 Moore Construction has billed more than 2.2 million dollars just in the past year and a half.
Everything from painting, to paving, to installing building ramps, even plumbing.
But it looks like Travis Moore did some of that work without permits.
In 2022, 4 Moore construction completed over $178,000 worth of work at Douglass Learning Academy at 900 Samuel Wiley Drive.
“Yes, that is inside city limits. We would require a permit for that,” said Juanita Limon.
Andrea clarified, “Okay. So, installing like drinking fountains, plumbing the water and the drains of the urinals.”
“Correct that would- they will require plumbing permits for that,” clarified Limon.
We asked to see the permits. There weren’t any for that job. And the school district doesn’t seem to care.
“As far as the permitting, it’s up to them to pull those things, not the district. So, we do not know that,” said Bob Eaton.
State law requires competitive bids over 50 thousand dollars. Moore’s invoices often charge just under. That avoids bills.
Even Karen Billingsley, chief financial officer for Cleveland schools is concerned.
This is an email we obtained Karen Billingsley wrote,” We have got to start planning ahead and getting quotes from some co-op vendors, 4 Moore is overcharging us.”
The Tarkington School District is also bulging from the effects of illegal immigration….
And Travis Moore is taking advantage of it.
Dennis Shew explained, “If there’s a lot of little, small jobs. Yeah. He’ll just do a proposal, you know, like 1400.”
Moore billed Tarkington taxpayers over $643,000 in the past year and a half.
A number of the projects should have triggered state bidding laws.
“And if it’s a oh, a couple of the bigger ones, then he and others would do bids,” continued Shew.
What about this $174,000 painting job Moore did this past spring at the primary school?
Tarkington’s Deputy Superintendent of Business and District Operations tells us he apparently forgot to get required bids.
“Well, quite frankly, that one might be something that I missed,” said Shew.
It may not be the only one he missed. Tarkington can’t produce bids on any of the jobs Moore got.
Dwayne Stovall sits on the Tarkington Independent School District board; he didn’t want to talk to us but he should. Moore built a house for his son raising potential conflicts.
And in Cleveland ISD, we learned Moore and his wife donate to the district.
Here’s a $3,000 donation to pay for field day t shirts this year.
And look at this e mail, a Christmas gift for Cleveland ISD purchasing director Ginger Deck.
She turns it down -quote: “Because I work in the public sector, particularly for a public school district I am restricted from personally accepting such a generous gift.”
We don’t know if there were other gifts to other school district employees or school board members, or how generous Travis and wife are being.
“People are asking questions. No body is answering questions nobody is giving any resolution to the problem,” states Lacey Page.
We do know our questions weren’t welcome at Cleveland City Hall.
“You know what I want to talk to you about. Lacy Page’s building. I also want to talk about why her contractor, who does all of this work without permits, is on the board of leadership in this city? You don’t want to answer that either,” said Andrea Palacio.
One of the council members who voted for Travis Moore for that important city board was this guy, Eddie Lowery, who seemed to have a case of amnesia when we first called.
But we have Lowery on video tape making the motion to approve Moore.
Lowery responded, “No comment.”
Andrea continued, “Do you stand by what you told me on the phone that you don’t know him.”
Lowery responded, “No comment.”
“They have no answer for what they did. They are just avoiding questions,” expressed Lacey Page.
But Lacey Page deserves answers for what she says is a $600,000 disaster and she’s not the only one.
Cheyenne expressed, “I don’t like the way he did us. I don’t like the way he’s done and several other business owners that I know. So, it’s worrisome to have him being someone that’s in charge.”
It’s not reassuring that Cleveland’s new mayor thinks our questions were simply meant to gain us new fans. Like what we were investigating was funny.
“Lacey page has a mess of a building,” states Andrea Palacio.
Mayor responded, “You’re trying to get likes on Facebook.”
Andrea continues, “Not at all I’m trying to get answers for one of your citizens. You also have ignored my attempt to contact you.”
“Well, I think they are scared. I think they know they did wrong on every level,” states Lacey Page.Keep up with us on social media: