Editor: Shannon Cottngame
November 2, 2022
The Whitney City Council met in a regular session Tuesday, October 25, after the meeting planned for the previous Thursday evening was canceled and rescheduled.
The council approved an agreement with G&B Stump Grinding for brush pickup in the city. Money was set aside in the city’s 2022-23 budget for the company’s services, which will be provided as needed.
Mayor Jerry Barker said that there are a lot of senior citizens and others in town who cannot cut and bundle brush to the specifications required by Republic Services for pickup. Also, the city’s truck and chipper are broken down and out of service more than they are in service and manpower remains an issue.
Under the agreement, G&B will provide brush pickup and chipping for materials not picked up by Republic, with the cost not to exceed $24,000 per year.
The company will pick up brush on a route and schedule requested by the city of stacks not larger than approximately 5’x5’x5′ and logs no wider than eight inches or longer than five feet.
The council also discussed an issue regarding a past-due water bill at Baker Field with Whitney Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Melody Haley.
According to information presented at the meeting, the issue stems from an agreement the district has with the Whitney Wildcat Football League (WWFL), which has been permitted to use Baker Field for youth football games. The bill, which is in the district’s name, has a past due amount of over $8,000.
Mayor Barker said that council minutes indicate that the previous city administrator brought past agreements before the council, which were approved, that limited the WWFL to 70,000 gallons of water usage per month to be provided by the city.
The mayor said that the league had been notified over the summer that the water usage was becoming excessive and they would need to be accountable for the water used. In July, over 95,000 gallons were used. With the bill past due, the water has now been turned off at the field.
Council members discussed the importance of having facilities for youth. Barker said that the city had approached the district about having the field donated to the city, which would allow water to be provided for youth sports on city property, but that proposal was rejected by the school board. By law, the school district cannot provide free water.
Without a way for the city to legally write the bill off, no action was taken. The council determined that the issue needs to be settled between the district and WWFL, as the parties have a lease agreement in place.
The council discussed the replacement of a wastewater line in the Highlands North Addition at the request of Council Member Martis Ward, who had concerns about whether the recently replaced line is working as it should.
Public Works Director Billy Pribble provided information and photos to the council regarding the replacement of approximately 400 feet of clay line, which was upgraded earlier this year from the manhole at the intersection of West Wilson and continued north on Colorado Street.
Residents in the Highland Drive area have approached the council in the past about sewage issues in their neighborhood, but Pribble said that he had only received one call about sewage issues since the new line was put in, and that was determined not to be caused by the sewer main. Public Works continues to inspect and flush the manhole at North Colorado Street and Highland Drive every Friday.
Mayor Barker said that the current issue is that the line runs down North Brazos, and the city has determined that there is a problem with some businesses in the area not properly servicing grease traps. He said that this is also a problem in other areas of town, and code enforcement will begin addressing grease trap violations.
The council also authorized a lease-purchase agreement with Government Capital for two police vehicles. The council had previously approved purchasing two vehicles, but supply chain issues have made that difficult. The agreement with Government Capital will allow the city to lease/purchase the vehicles, which will be paid with with money from the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.
The council approved the placement of a streetlight at the corner of Colorado Street and Lee Avenue (State Park Road). The decision was made due to the dark intersection and the number of visitors attempting to find the road leading to the state park. Adding a light will cost less than $20 per month through Texas-New Mexico Power.
A replat of a two lots on Chad Avenue was approved by the council to allow the owner to divide the property.
The council also authorized the mayor to solicit applications for the positions of police chief and fire chief. The job descriptions will include requirements that the police chief not live further than a specified distance from the city limits and that the fire chief live within the fire district.
Special event permits were approved by the council for holiday activities, including last weekend’s downtown trunk-or-treat event, the Christmas parade and tree lighting on December 3, and the Lake Whitney Chamber of Commerce Downtown Christmas Bazaar on December 10.
In departmental reports, Interim Police Chief Hugh Corbin reported that officers stopped 170 vehicles the previous month while enforcing the one-way sign near the intermediate school at the request of the district. The department issued 112 warning and 58 citations. Corbin said that officers wanted to work to make drivers aware of the issue, but they will now stop writing warnings and begin ticketing wrong-way drivers. He also reported that two experienced officers, Jason Perkins and Brian Martin, have been promoted to sergeant. The chief said that the police department has responded to several incidents related to drugs, fighting and theft at Whitney schools, and most are being handled by the district with the exception of two drug cases. Preliminary investigations indicated that they involved THC vape pens, but they have been sent for testing.
Interim Fire Chief Roy McCleary said that the department applied for a grant from the Texas Forest Service for a replacement truck and was turned down, but they did provide $15,000 for truck repairs. The department recently received another grant that former chief Wayland Price applied for in the amount of $20,000 for protective equipment. The Texas Farm Bureau also recently awarded $900 to the department. The fire department recently presented safety information to 400 children in observation of Fire Prevention Month. McCleary said he has been working with Pribble to check fire hydrants, and only one was found that needed repairs.
Library Director Denise Carter said that the library received its gold star for meeting the state’s requirements and is accredited. The local library was responsible for making a statewide change in reporting procedures that allowed small libraries to count their curbside service during the pandemic as operating hours, which ensures that they receive funding. Carter said that Texas State Library and Archives Commission member Art Mann of Hillsboro took her issue before the commission and was able to have the change made. She also encouraged the community to view the library’s newsletter on at http://www.whitneylibrary.org for more information about the library’s activities.
Event Coordinator Pam Townley said that the filming with Sue Land and Chalk Peak Productions that was done during Pioneer Days is in final editing and will be aired on a Houston station that reaches about five million people and will also be available on Roku. She said the filming done around town will hopefully go forward into another documentary about the history of Whitney.
The council met in a special sesion Friday night, October 28, to appoint a council member and approve an amendment to the Republic Services contract that reflects a increase effective November 1. See accompanying photo for information about the new council member, Aimee Boswell.
The council meets at 6 p.m. the third Thursday of the month at the City of Whitney annex at 106 North Colorado Street.