During the monthly Jacksonville City Council meeting, held Monday due to a scheduling conflict, Mayor Pro Tem/District 4 Councilman Rob Gowin referred to a “library real estate deal” which is being discussed in executive sessions, saying it is not finalized.
“We are committed to transparency and will make the decisions public when appropriate. Should this deal happen, the five of us on the Council will be committed to a library which is just as state-of-the-art as our current library,” Gowin said during the commenting portion of the meeting.
He urged those with concerns to attend Thursday afternoon meetings where the council discusses agenda items.
In other business, the council voted 4 to 0 with District 3 Councilman Tim McRae abstaining to approve a bid by Bill McRae Ford to replace two patrol vehicles, one fire marshal pickup and a wastewater treatment utility truck.
A new program was also introduced that would have the City purchase 26 city fleet trucks, to be driven for 12 to 16 months (or 10,000 to 16,000 miles), then sold for a profit. The city will save operational monies from the program, and will also have a net profit for the vehicles when sold, according to city officials. These vehicles will be distributed amongst the following departments, public and community services, water and wastewater and public safety.
The council also approved a bid to purchase a mobile restroom trailer purchased from the Hotel/Motel fund to be used at events which are Hotel/Motel eligible.
City officials said a variety of makes and models were researched and a comparative analysis was used to decide which features would deliver the best return-for-investment. The purchase was budgeted for $90,000, and a single bid was received from Comforts of Home Services Inc. for $76,702.
In other action, a resolution in support of economic development incentives was also approved. The cost will be for up to $100,000 to establish a high-demand job training program. JEDCO is seeking $45,250 to be matched by $60,250 of JEDCO funds to establish a local training program for “First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers.” JEDCO is in the process of renovating approximately 1,400 square-feet of unused/unfinished space at 309 E. Commerce Street to accommodate this training program. To date, JEDCO has not been notified of award by the TWC, but expects an update this fall.
Other items approved include:
– An inter-local agreement to establish a regional SWAT team. This agreement is between Jacksonville police, Bullard police, Rusk police, Alto police and Cherokee County Sheriff's Office. Each involved agency contributes personnel to the team, and in return, participating entities have the ability to use the team in their jurisdictions. The team will be organized by the Jacksonville Police Department, who will also oversee training, organization, command structure and compliance to professional standards;
– A new franchise agreement with Centerpoint Energy, whose existing agreement is set to expire. The new agreement remains at the same percentage as the current one, and will be passed by way of city ordinance. This is the second passing of this ordinance by council; Centerpoint has instructed it be passed at three consecutive regular council meetings;
– The addition of a public safety fee to future lessees at Lake Jacksonville. With the annexation of the waters of Lake Jacksonville, more public safety presence is needed on the lake. Staff is proposing a public safety fee of $200 when a property is transferred and there annually after the next transfer of any lease. Current lessees will not be assessed the fee. (Carries 3-2, Jeff Smith and Rob Gowin voted against.)
– The nomination of Sam Hopkins to the Cherokee County Appraisal District board. Each taxing entity in the county nominates individuals to serve on the board. This resolution is to make the nominations; and
– An interim agreement with Afton Grove Water Supply to replace the contract which expired in 2016. This contract has no rate increase, and keeps all other terms of the contract current with the terms of the current agreement. A stipulation is that Afton Grove will negotiate in good faith to come to terms for a long-term contract.
A consent agenda was also approved during the meeting, and includes:
– Minutes from a Sept. 10 regular council meeting, a Sept. 17 special council meeting; and an Oct. 3 agenda workshop;
– The appointment of Beverly Trotter and Linda Little to the Library board;
– The appointment of Randall Chandler to the Neches and Trinity Valleys Groundwater Conservation district boards;
– A street closure for Trunk or Treat on Oct. 28, beginning at 4 p.m.; and
– A street closure for a Christmas parade December 5 or 12 (weather dependent) at 4 p.m.
Robert "Bobby" Jowell of Jacksonville Animal Shelter, was named the “Employee of the Month” by Mayor Randy Gorham. The nomination was submitted by Captain Jason Price of Jacksonville Police Department.
Jowell started with the Jacksonville Animal Control as Kennel Tech in December of 2017, and in 2018 became an animal control officer.
“Bobby has risen to the challenge during this transitional period and has been instrumental in the ongoing positive operation of the Jacksonville Animal Control. He has been described as self-initiated, courteous and polite, and has been lauded for his customer service skills. He has a true heart for the animals that he works with, and is a valuable asset to the Animal Shelter and to our community,” Price said.
Meanwhile, Atwoods was recognized as the October “Employer of the Month.”
“Atwoods offers many products not found elsewhere in Jacksonville. This ensures residents can find what they need and keeps their dollar local to strengthen the economy. The store is also a great community partner and regularly gives back,” said JEDCO President James Hubbard.