The reporter's notebook

When the Advocate first reported in early July on concerns Victoria Regional Airport commission members have regarding how Victoria County managed Hurricane Harvey recovery money, it turned out to be just the beginning.

Now, with more than 20 stories reported, five editorials written and countless calls for transparency from members of the public, we are still reporting.

To catch you up, in just the past 10 days, the Advocate has reported how Refugio County, which acted like Victoria County after the hurricane by bypassing bid laws and contracting with the Virtus Group, is suing the Texas Association of Counties for $1 million for failing to properly handle its claim from losses caused by Harvey.

This past Sunday, airport commissioner and local businessman Dennis Patillo wrote a special guest column calling for answers to questions he, and many others, have been asking for months. The following day, a full-page advertisement from concerned citizens asking Victoria County commissioners when they would answer the public’s questions was published in the paper.

County Commissioner Kevin Janak said during commissioners’ court Monday that a representative from the Virtus Group, the company at the center of this controversy, would be visiting the county next week to answer questions. After that, he said, his small group will be updating the county on what they’ve found.

But we’re still digging.

Recently, the Advocate requested and received records of communication between Joyce Dean and employees of the Virtus Group. Dean served as the county’s project manager for repairs to damaged buildings after Harvey, and was often known as the county’s “fifth commissioner” due to her considerable behind-the-scenes influence with both elected and appointed officials.

Having received dozens of records, it’s a lot to sort through, and we could use the help of our readers. What stands out to you? What should we pay attention to?

Most importantly, what questions do you still have?

Comment below, call 361-574-1222 or email to let us know what you find. Click here to see all of our reporting on this investigation, and thank you for reading.

Morgan Theophil covers local government for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6511, or on Twitter

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