Sulphur Springs City Council approved most of the items on Tuesday night’s agenda as recommended, including annexation on of the former Thermo mine property, a franchise agreement, a grant application for a thermal imager, and contracts for asbestos abatement and the street improvement program.
Black History Month
Mayor John Sellers, on behalf of the City Council, officially proclaimed February as Black History Month in Sulphur Springs, and urged “all residents to join together in making a period of re-dedication to the principles of justice and equality of all people.”
Sellers noted that 2020 marks the 94th annual celebration of Black History. The first was in 1926, when Carter G. Woodson instituted Negro History Week the second week of February to coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The first official Black History Month was announced in 1976 by President Gerald R. Ford.
“Black History Month affords the special opportunity to become more knowledgeable about Black heritage, and to honor the many Black leaders who have contributed to the progress of our nation,” Sellers read from the proclamation. “Such knowledge can strengthen the insight of all our citizens regarding the issues of human rights, the great strides that have been made in the crusade to eliminate the barriers of equality for minority groups, and the continued struggle against racial discrimination.”
Former Thermo Mine
Sulphur Springs City Council approved on first reading Ordinance 2763 to annex the city-owned property formerly referred to as the Thermo Mine or Luminant properties.
The council also approved an agricultural lease agreement at the mine property with Mark Johnson.
Maxwell said Johnson had previously baled hay on 52 acres. He recommended offering an agreement to Johnson at the same rate as other agricultural leases recently renewed, for $700 a year.
Senior Center, Pacific Park Projects
Approval was given by the City Council on first reading Ordinance 2764 for several matters related to funding improvements at Pacific Park and a new Senior Citizens Center, projects approved by voters in November 2019.
The council will be asked in March to approve on second reading the issuance and sale of combination tax and revenue certificates of obligation, not to exceed $3 million to pay all or a portion of the city’s contractual obligations to be incurred in connection with the projects.
The city approved a contract from EnviroCare Associates, Inc., for abatement of asbestos at 301 Oak Avenue. The city received six bids ranging from $49,500 to $136,429. City staff recommended accepting the lowest bid from EnviroCare to remove asbestos from the property. The building will be removed and used as part of the new senior center. Community Development Director Tory Niewiadomski said it costs less to abate it first, then tear it down and remove it than it would to dispose of the waste with asbestos still in it.
The city approved a contract for $1,174,346 from Texana Land and Asphalt for street improvements. Overall, the city received five bids. Texana’s was the lowest. City officials had anticipated spending around $1.3 million on street improvement projects, according to City Fiance Director Lesa Smith.
Niewiadomski last month reported 19 streets are targeted for varied levels of improvements through the annual Street Improvement Program. The cost could mean more road repairs than anticipated this year.
The city has designated $500,000 raised from the street maintenance fee collected on city utility bills and the rest from the Capital Improvements to pay for the annual street improvements.
Resolution No. 1189, approved by the council Tuesday, authorizes the fire department to submit a grant application to the Office of Governor Homeland Security Division for the purchase of a thermal imaging camera.
Sulphur Springs Fire Chief David James said the thermal imager can be used in situations involving hazardous materials and other operations, a well as during firefighting. The device can be used to help find leaks quickly.
The application asks for just over $10,400 to purchase the thermal imaging camera; if approved, the grant would cover 100 percent of the cost, which would mean no local money would be needed to obtain the equipment, according to James.
Atmos Franchise Agreement
Ordinance No. 2765 was given council approval on first reading Tuesday night.
City Attorney Jim McLeroy explained this is an ordinance that’s been in place for 20 years that requires Atmos Energy Corporation under agreement to pay a franchise fee to provide natural gas service in Sulphur Springs. The agreement protects city right of ways in places natural gas service is given. The city receives a royalty from Atmos.
Sellers recognized City Secretary Gale Roberts for earning Texas Registered Municipal Clerk Certification. She was among the graduates at a ceremony held last Thursday.
“We should be very privileged and honored that our city secretary has taken the time to go through that and to elevate herself. We already thought she was perfect anyway. This just makes her more so that way,” Sellers said.
Other Council Business
The City Council during the Feb. 4 meeting watched “American Makeover Episode 2: Seaside, the City of Ideas,” a video about the town of Seaside, Florida, built as an answer to urban sprawl, and the city manager recommended the council attend The annual Congress of New Urbanism conference this summer put on by Andrés Duany, architect codesigner of Seaside and founder of CNU.
The City Council also approved resolutions calling for the May 2 City Council Election and heard the annual racial profiling report regarding traffic stops and arrests for 2019 read by Sulphur Springs Police Lt. Rusty Stillwagoner.