Editor: Shannon Cottongame
March 30, 2022
The Whitney City Council heard reports from department heads and considered several agenda items, including a request for a new city playground, in a meeting held Monday evening, March 21.
In his update to the council, Mayor Brad Slaten reported that he attended the Lake Whitney Garden Club meeting in March to discuss the small beautification projects that could enhance the visual appeal of the city. The mayor said that once the list is reviewed, it will be made available to organizations that would like to adopt a project. The cost and labor must be provided by the volunteering organization, and Slaten pointed out that any projects on private property must be coordinated directly with the property owner.
The mayor said that he and Council Member Valery Peacock also attended the Whitney Business Alliance meeting in March, which highlighted women in business in the community.
Mayor Slaten also extended his condolences to City Administrator/Police Chief Chris Bentley, who was not in attendance due to the death of his father.
Department heads briefly went over highlights of the monthly reports that they submit to the council.
City Secretary Kristi Woellert reported that city staff has been working to get documents ready for the annual financial audit.
Library Director Denise Carter told the council that the library’s newsletter for April through June will be released soon, in print and on the website at http://www.whitneylibrary.org.
Carter said that she is working to gather information about broadband improvements, as the library has slow internet service.
The Lake Whitney Garden Club is now holding craft sessions at the library every third Wednesday, Carter said. The public is invited to participate and help create crafts that will be sold by the club at Whitney’s Pioneer Days festival.
Looking at the library’s monthly report, Mayor Slaten pointed out that the library had roughly twice as many visitors as the same time last year.
Whitney Fire Chief Wayland Price reported that fire calls have been up significantly. From 2 p.m. Friday, March 18, through 2 p.m. Monday, March 21, Price said that his department responded to 24 calls. The chief said that the fire department is soliciting donations of water and Gatorade, as supplies are being used quickly.
While Bentley was not in attendance to elaborate on his monthly reports, the council and mayor recognized the police department for the recent drug bust in the city, and the mayor pointed out that the average response time for the city’s EMS department is five minutes and 14 seconds, which he commended.
Public Works Director Billy Pribble reported that a contractor has been found to perform the repairs at the intersection of Jefferson and Colorado downtown, and the project will be scheduled.
Work continues on the project on North Colorado Street to replace 1,000 feet of PVC pipe from Hayes Avenue to Highland Drive. Pribble said last month that city crews dug the area up to investigate sewer issues in the area and determined that the pipe needed to be upgraded. The portion of line that was causing issues for homes has been replaced, and more will be replaced in phases as other jobs are completed.
Pribble also said that his department is training on the use of air packs as an added safety measure for the use of chlorine gas.
The Public Works Department is still hiring, and with another employee recently taking another job, two positions are now available.
Moving on to the regular agenda, Whitney resident Sonya Lott was back before the council to speak about the need for an adequate, safe, accessible and shaded playground in the city. The mayor and council supported the idea, but with the costs estimated at around $40,000, the expense is not currently possible in the city’s budget.
Council member Jerry Barker suggested that Lott consider a fund-raising effort, noting that companies are often willing to help fund such efforts.
If a budget expenditure is necessary, the discussion would have to wait until the city prepares its budget for the fiscal year beginning in October, and the council would have to determine whether such an expense is possible as costs of fuel and supplies continue to rise.
The council thanked Lott for her interest and emphasized that they are in support of working together to find a way forward on the project.
Julie Bonner and Valerie Hunsaker were appointed to the Whitney Housing Authority Board of Directors after the council voted on another agenda item.
In other matters, the council voted to cancel the May 7 election with all council candidates unopposed, and the City of Whitney’s wrecker rotation was discussed and is expected to be before the council for action in April.