Alcoholic goat-mayor is castrated by cowboy

Andrew Buncombe
Sunday 25 August 2002 00:00

They called Jim Bob Hargrove a coward, but it takes balls to castrate an alcoholic goat. Especially when that goat is the local mayor. And it probably requires even more nerve when that cloven-hoofed politician is owned by a Texan millionaire, trying to impress a Hollywood actress.

The people of Brewster County, Texas, found themselves at the centre of such an unlikely scenario this week when Mr Hargrove went on trial accused of emasculating Clay Henry III with a kitchen knife last November. It was said that once the deed was done, Mr Hargrove, 41, popped the hircine mayor's testicles into the fridge, effectively freezing Mr Henry's assets. Mr Hargrove has pleaded not guilty.

"We as humans have to be good and faithful stewards of the riches of our creations, and goats are one of those creations," Brewster County district attorney Frank Brown, told the jury. Pointing to Mr Hargrove in the court, he added: "[The goat] was defenceless, and that man was not and is not. He deserves to be convicted."

Lajitas, the town of which Clay Henry III is mayor, is essentially a holiday resort, owned by the Austin millionaire Steve Smith, at the tip of Texas's Big Bend National Park. The resort was originally developed in the 1970s by a property magnate who jokingly decided to elect a goat, Clay Henry I, as mayor.

It was soon discovered that while attending to the duties of office in a pen next to the Lajitas Trading Post store, Mr Henry was fond of a beer. Or 12. He soon became known as the cabron borracho, or "drunken goat".

Mr Henry held office until 1992, when he died aged 23 after fighting with a rival over a nanny goat, and was stuffed and mounted with a beer bottle in his mouth. A successor, Clay Henry II, held office for eight years and in 2000 Clay Henry III was elected in a nail-biting contest in which he narrowly beat several rivals, including a wooden Indian and a dog called Clyde.

It is said that trouble started on a Sunday morning last November when Mr Smith was showing a guest – the actress Anne Archer, who starred in the Harrison Ford movie Clear and Present Danger – around the resort and wanted to demonstrate that Mr Henry III was as fond of a brew as his predecessor. Unfortunately it was too early to buy a beer, so he borrowed one from Mr Hargrove, who was standing with friends outside the goat pen enjoying a drink.

"He got him a beer, but he did not think it was for the goat," Richard Hill, a constable with the sheriff's department, told The Independent on Sunday. "He was upset about that. Later that night he got intoxicated and said he needed to castrate the goat. The next morning the goat was found castrated. That was when they called me."

Mr Hill spoke to a maid who said she had been cleaning out the fridge at some nearby apartments in which Mr Hargrove had been staying and found some "strange looking meat". Mr Hill said: "She threw it into the dumpster. I had to crawl in and get it." Locals who rely on Mr Henry's beer-swilling antics to draw the tourists are understandably upset by the affront to their civic dignitary.

Neither Mr Hargrove or his lawyer, Martin Underwood, were available for comment. It seems, however, that at least some of the jury believed his plea of not guilty: last week they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict. This weekend Judge Kenneth DeHart was considering whether or not to order a retrial, but at least, as the photograph shows, the gelded mayor's thirst is unimpaired.

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