Due to COVID-19 social distancing and closed lobbies measures in place, the regular April meeting of Sulphur Springs City Council will be conduced online, and can be viewed by the public online starting at 7 p.m. tonight. The agenda is relatively short agenda, and includes for City Council consideration a curfew ordinance for minors, resolution to postpone the May 2 election and a step plan for Sulphur Springs Police Department.
The city was slated to hold a special election on May 2 to fill four seats on the City Council, vacated in December with the resignations of Place 1-3 and Place 5 council members, and a regulation election for Places 6 and 7.
Only two of the four special election races are opposed. Harold Nash Sr. is unchallenged for Place 2 and Oscar Aguilar is unchallenged for Place 3 on the Council. The four candidates for Place 1 include:
Both candidates for Place 5 include:
The https://www.ksstradio.com/2020/03/governor-extends-school-closures-implements-essential-services-activities-protocols/Governor’s March 31 Executive Order for Texans to stay safe at home unless working at an essential business or involved in an “essential” activity, observe social distancing and keep schools closed to the public could potentially allow voters to cast ballots on May 2 if the order is not extended, but would Monday-Friday, April 20-28, in the Sulphur Springs Municipal Building located at 201 North Davis St.
Keith Ingram, Director of the Elections Division in the Office of the Secretary of State, last Thursday notified many elections officials by email that, noted that the Executive Order too prevents election officials from securing polling places, recruiting election workers, and allowing voters a safe way to exercise their right to vote. Going ahead with the May 2 election instead of postponing it could subject voters to health risks from COVID-19 and potential criminal violations, according to Ingram. Thus, the SOS official reported, those who have not moved their May elections must take action immediately to do so. The approved date for postponed elections is Nov. 3.
Sulphur Springs City Council are slated to discuss tonight and consider approving a resolution postponing the special City Council election until Nov. 3.
Curfew for Minors
Sulphur Springs City Council are also slated to conduct a public hearing, and discuss and consider approving on second and final reading Ordinance No. 2762, which amends Chapter 15 of the Code of Ordinances by adding Article VII, setting curfew hours for minors.
This issue was raised in December by a couple of downtown business women, concerned about the number of middle school aged youth congregating around downtown unsupervised on weekends and late at night, making threats to fight each other, knocking over trash cans and potentially putting themselves in danger. The women asked for the city’s help regarding the issue.
City Attorney Jim McLeroy drafted and proposed at the January meeting an ordinance setting a curfew for minors to address issues of citizens feeling unsecure and potentially unsafe conditions for unaccompanied minors after hours. The proposed ordinance was tabled twice, with additional information sought and some revisions requested.
The ordinance, as proposed, would apply to all unaccompanied youth younger than 16 years who are in public and would be effective from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Exceptions to this policy would include emergency, work, being in the company of a guardian, running errands for a parent or guardian, if the minor is exercising First Amendment rights protected by the United States
Constitution, or married or has been married. The youth would be allowed to be on the sidewalk outside the home or neighboring residence as long as the neighbor doesn’t report them to the police.
Also an acceptable exception is if the minor is attending “an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by the city, the Sulphur Springs Independent School District, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor, or going to or returning home from, without any detour or stop, an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by the city, the Sulphur Springs Independent School District, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor.”
A public hearing to the ordinance will be conducted during the 7 p.m. April 7 meeting. If the council chooses to approve the ordinance, the curfew for minors would go into effect on May 1, according to the proposed ordinance.
Anyone who would like to speak during public forum should call 903-439-3705 and provide their name and address during the meeting as instructed at the appropriate time.
Other Agenda Items
The April 7 council agenda also includes an ordinance amending and updating a pretreatment ordinance, a new step plan for SSPD, consider a motion to reject bids for the water treatment plant Clearwell Modification and PH enhancement.