Members of the Houston City Council purchased sophisticated camera equipment to locate sewer line problems and bought three vehicles during a meeting Monday.
•Approved a recommendation from the Houston Planning and Zoning Commission to subdivide commercial property on South Sam Houston Blvd. The decision includes the McCloud Center and storage units to the west. Both are under contract to sell to separate parties, the council heard.
•Heard an update from Karen James of Houston’s Drury University campus, which recently started its spring semester. She also announced that the school would offer a one credit-hour class from April 18 to May 13, “Caring for the Aging Parent.” Enrollment is underway.
•Learned from Tyler Guynn that he is leaving the city’s employment as the technician for its fiber system. He thanked the council for the opportunity. No reason for the departure was cited.
•Approved the purchase of camera equipment that allows the city’s sewer department to examine lines for troublespots. A $90,701 bid was approved from Red Equipment LLC of Independence. The city hopes to sell an existing unit to the City of Licking. Houston’s insurance carrier recently gave a $7,500 grant toward the purchase.
It is hoped the equipment will allow the city to identify problem areas, and require only an outside party to apply a lining to repair them. Previously, the city has paid a firm to identify issues through the video process. Now the city can do it.
•Authorized $12,475 for recent repairs by a firm to a main fiber line that was gnawed by a squirrel. The emergency splicing resulted in a down time of a few hours in the west part of the community.
•Approved purchases of three vehicles included in the 2022 budget: A new Ford Explorer 4 x 4 for administration use at a cost of $30,240 from Piney River Ford in Houston. It will replace a 2008 model that has 99,000 miles and will be taken out of service. (Vote 5-1 with Sam Kelley no). A new Ford F-150 was also bought from the local dealership for the parks and recreation department (unanimous). The cost was $30,874. In a tie vote — Stilley, Angie Gettys and Sheila Walker no — Kelley, Michael Weakly and Ross Richardson yes — voted to purchase a $31,502 Chevrolet 2500 from Don Brown Chevrolet in St. Louis. Mayor Willy Walker broke the tie to buy it from Brown under a state contract.
Earlier, some of the council led a discussion on the benefits of buying locally and not automatically opting for a state contract that is currently held for Chevrolet models and results in some savings. Likewise, Ford sometimes has the state contract.
Piney River Ford employs 28 full-time employees and 11 part-time workers, sparking economic activity and making charitable donations in the town because its interests are local, it was stated.
Separately a utility bed was purchased for $8,875.
•Authorized transferring the city’s cable television franchise from Cable America to Cable One, which is the new owner of Cable America’s cable systems in the state in a deal finalized Dec. 30. Cable One already serves West Plains and Rolla.
•Heard from Charlie Shea, who said he read in the newspaper the city had received a donation of land with a stone exterior house at West Highway 17 and Lilly Avenue. He wondered if a cost-benefit analysis had been conducted before the city accepted it. Walker said he would visit with him.
•Voted to have Nokia provide software programming for the city’s fiber system that will allow automatic updates to customers’ routers. The cost is about $11,200. The move means a technician will not have to manually do the job at homes. On Monday, it was estimated there are 134 fiber accounts.
•Adjourned into a closed session. Any votes taken are disclosed within 72 hours.