By Valerie Reddell
Woodville Mayor Russ Nalley opened a planning workshop Monday by announcing that the key to a successful 2018 is planning.
"You can't get anywhere if you don't plan," Nalley said.
The council and staff quickly reached consensus as to the need for the city's downtown area to look its best for the 75th annual Dogwood Festival.
Suggestions included coordinated efforts by volunteers to tackle troublesome areas of the city in early spring.
City Manager Mandy Risinger reported that Municipal Judge Judith Haney often assigns violators to community service as a way of working off fines.
"We provide the safety vest and bags, then they fill the bag and leave at the side of the road for city staff to collect in a truck," Risinger said. That process also allows city staff to track their efforts. The area around the housing authority and Cob Mill Road frequently have a lot of litter, she added.
Staff also will announce more detailed plans for heavy trash collection during the first two weeks in March. This effort allows residents to bring larger items to a dumpster at the warehouse at no charge.
Risinger noted that certain items such as tires, batteries and lead paint cannot be accepted.
Nalley asked members about other projects they would like to see the city pursue.
"I get lots of ideas from citizens, but they usually want them to be accomplished without higher taxes, raising utility bills and someone else volunteering," Nalley said.
Councilwoman Joyce Wilson asked about the status of a sidewalk project that was part of a recent engineering study.
Risinger responded that the sidewalk proposal would be submitted for the next two-year cycle.
City Secretary Terri Bible mentioned the possibility of partnering student groups and business owners to provide planter filled with flowering plants.
"That's a good way to add a lot of color with minimal cost," Nalley said.
After transitioning into the regular January meeting, the council quickly handled its agenda of monthly reports.
A resolution naming the Tyler County Booster as the newspaper of record won unanimous approval.
In the City Manager's report, Risinger noted that city hall would be closed Jan. 15 in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday.
Staffers are closing out documentation for disaster recovery projects and the Pine Street Water Well. All the work has been accomplished, the final items all relate to closing out FEMA documentation releasing retained funds to contractors.
Risinger also is researching as to whether the city is required to designate a city health officer. Dr. Curtis Garner resigned from the position in November. So far, Risinger said she has not located any requirement that the city replace him.
The city manager also reported that documentation seeking reimbursement for emergency protective measures for Hurricane Harvey should be finalized soon. All the documents are in FEMA's hands, awaiting approval.
As far as damage repairs, Risinger said the contractor who installed the roof at city hall recently made an inspection and the damage should be under warranty.
In response to questions from Nalley, Risinger said water is likely continuing to leak into the attic area, but it's not intruding into the building interior. Some visible mildew damage is visible in the city council chamber where walls meet the ceiling.
"That's all superficial," Risinger said. "It's not in the Sheetrock and not in insulation. That's why we haven't been scurrying around pulling Sheetrock out."
"Budgetwise, we may be looking at a new roof," Risinger added. "It's pretty evident we got a poor job. The roof was replaced 10 years ago and the warranty was for 20 years — supposedly."
Elected officials continued a discussion that began at the December meeting regarding a request to amend a city ordinance on the use of fixed propane tanks for homes and businesses in the city.
Fire Chief Chuck Marshall and Public Works Director Charles Maclin expressed a number of potential hazards posed by increased use of propane within the city.
Marshall recalled Tyler County community faced those risks when a valve broke off a large propane tank at Warren Junior High, the chief said. Firefighters remained at that site for two days, shuttling water and containing the leaking propane by a technique known as "fogging."
The explosive limit of propane is considerable lower, meaning the risk of explosion is greater than natural gas. Natural gas is lighter than air, so when leaks occur, the gas drifts up into the atmosphere; propane dissipates along the ground — sometimes for great distances.
Risinger noted that there are concerns about service issues that accompany leaks. Currently, half of the city employees are members of the fire department. When a leak is reported, those dual roles allow them to enter a residence if necessary and shut off gas. They can also turn off the service at a safe distance from the fire.
If fire crews respond to a propane leak, they must dedicate one truck and crew to keeping that tank cool.
The request for a revision to the ordinance on propane will remain tabled, Nalley said.