Get Off My Asphalt!

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A Texas county is trying to claim a road they don’t own! That’s an assault on private property rights.

Arturo Mendoza doesn’t live on an asphalt road – it’s just dirt, but this is Angelina County where the funny business with roads has produced a new injustice.

“They treated me like a dog,” expressed Arturo Mendoza.

Arturo Mendoza can’t forget the day earlier this year when armed Angelina County sheriff’s deputies showed up on his property. He had not committed a crime; all he was doing was moving a fence along a dirt road on his 60 acres of land near Lufkin.

“The deputies told me that they had orders from the commissioner that this was clearly a county road,” recalls Mendoza.

That commissioner was Terry Pitts, another example of a county commissioner getting involved in road work when they aren’t supposed to be.

Arturo has since put up this sign, making it clear this road is a private road. Not one owned by the county. And Arturo says he even has the deed to prove it.

“They made the assumption that I am a stupid Mexican that does not know real estate law,” expressed Mendoza.  

This allegation of ethnic mistreatment is something we’ve heard more than once in Angelina and Nacogdoches counties.

And Arturo says he won’t stand for it, filing a lawsuit against the county to stop them from saying this private road is really a county road.

And it’s a road that leads to new conflict of interest questions in a county where road work often appears politically inspired.

“I think, you know, what’s going on is a buddy system here in Lufkin. And it’s very worrisome. Corruption, you know, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” said Mendoza.

So, who’s involved back is allegedly being scratched?

This small road leads to two properties that are currently landlocked. It’s no secret a county access road, instead of a private road, would make these property’s value skyrocket.

One of the properties (about twenty acres) belongs to the Denman Avenue Baptist Church, which bought this property in July of 2022. Right before this rode work started.

Maybe it’s just a big coincidence, but you know whose family goes to that Baptist church? Angelina County Judge Keith Wright.

“The road is mine and it belongs to me. They need to go ahead and come up with an agreement with me they never did,” said Mendoza.

Check out this road sign the county put up since then. They are calling the road Sid Love Road, and his family owns the other property at the end of Arturo’s road.

“I took the liberty of fencing on both ways just to go ahead and have them have this access to his house, which is just one house,” said Mendoza.

Every once in a while, in our work we run into what you could call “aha moment.” Or maybe just a curious coincidence, but we don’t really believe in coincidences very much.

In the last few months, we raised questions about the controversial paving and repaving of Harley Golden Road.

Once against that involves Commissioner Terry Pitts, who has announced he’s not running for re-election after we exposed his failure to honor promises to pave miles of road with borrowed tax money.

And here’s the curious discovery, you know who lives on Harley Golden Roald? Prominent lawyer Mike Love. In fact, he’s the biggest landowner on this five miles stretch of road.

10 acres valued at 439,000 dollars, Love didn’t return our phone calls but I’m sure he appreciates how nice his road looks, all that new asphalt and oil sand.

There are so few roads that look this nice, but that’s what a million bucks gets you.

On the day we visited what the county now likes to call Sid Love Road, some of Arturo’s neighbors showed up, voicing their support for his fight against the government.

“I didn’t like the way he was being treated for one thing. It’s his property,” said Herbert Beringer.

“I just hate to see anybody force their way on anybody else, to me that’s what they’re doing it. They’re using their power as county government to push their weight around,” said Thomas McFarland.

And this is not the only place where Angelina County is accused of improperly trying to take over a private road unfairly, illegally.

“County’s just laid claim to it and put a cloud over our title now,” said Noel Proctor.

Three years ago, county officials told Noel Proctor his private driveway in precinct was on a county road.

“When you bought the property all of your records checks showed that drive was a private drive,” asked Brian Collister.

“It’s actually in the deed restriction of my land that I bought,” said Noel Proctor.

The county claims a previous owner gave it the road and commissioners but can’t produce any legal paperwork proving that really happened. Suspicion runs deep in these parts about all the road deals, all the broken promises.

“Sick of it. Our taxes went up we’ve seen no repairs,” said Herbert Beringer.

And after what we’ve seen during our travels around Angelina County, it’s hard to blame these folks.

“Why do they think they can have this be a county road if they don’t have the deed to it,” asked Brian Collister.

“I would probably say just because they’re crooked, and they have nobody holding them accountable. Who knows how many times this has already happened and they’ve gotten away with it,” said Noel Proctor.

Arturo Mendoza has armed his property with cameras and vows a fight.

It is not about the money he feels he’s owed if his road is hijacked by Angelina County.

“And it doesn’t matter what it is. I mean, how they perceive or see it this in value. I see it as my – as my land, all of it,” said Mendoza.

The legal fight over Sid Love Road, but Arturo wanted us to deliver a political message to the judge and the politicians who he says invaded his land.

“Enough is enough, they need to be removed from office. This goes around Lufkin all the time,” said Mendoza.

Wayne Dolcefino asked, “What goes around?”

“This corruption,” responded Mendoza.

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