Editor's Note: This Is an updated story that originally ran in the Oct. 25, 2023, issue of the Bulletin.
Bandera County officials say they are working to address a potential environmental disaster, but the man living next door to the spot says it is taking too long.
For the past four years, English Hollow resident Todd Malecha said he has witnessed trash piling up at a property close to his, adding that a noxious chemical odor in the area is also a problem.
Malecha, whose family has owns the tract where he has lived since the 1980s, said he has witnessed the stripping of recreational vehicles, burning tires and objects being buried in the ground near his home.
According to law-enforcement officials, the matter remains under investigation, but no charges have been filed regarding the property cited by Malecha.
The owner of the property in question is behind bars on unrelated charges and unavailable for comment.
Malecha has dubbed the nearby site “Methville 3240,” a nod to its location near the intersection of English Hollow and FM 3240.
“It’s absolutely despicable,” Malecha told the Bulletin. “And what they’re doing is going directly into the water.”
Malecha channeled that frustration by erecting signs on his own property. The latest sign, the third, reads: “County Officials Allowed This to Happen. Vote Them Out.”
Bandera County Sheriff Daniel Butts told the Bulletin he has not spoken personally to Malecha, but is aware of the situation, stressing the county is taking proper avenues to correct the matter.
“It’s a process we have to go through, and it takes time. Hopefully not much longer, but we are doing what we can,” he said.
County officials told the Bulletin the property belongs to Andrew Dougherty, who was charged with murder April 22, 2021, in the death of 72-year-old Antoinette Click.
Dougherty remains in the Bandera County Jail in lieu of posting a $1 million bond pending trial.
However, his incarceration didn’t stop the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District from fining him $66,000 for abandoning a well and polluting the watercourse on April 13, 2023.
Attorney Patrick Hundley told the groundwater district during its April 13 meeting that Dougherty had leased part of his property to a tenant who opened a temporary RV park but had failed to maintain the site or pay rent or any utilities.
“This is the worst case I’ve ever seen,” said groundwater district General Manager David Mauk. “The well is probably collapsed and is now polluting the aquifer.”
Malecha said property values are being affected, but he has successfully protested a change to his land’s taxable worth.
He added the government needs to move faster.
“It’s far from a win, but it’s a sign that what’s going on here is undeniable,” he said. “I’ve reached out to multiple state and county officials, over and over again. Their lack of response says it all.”