Members of the Houston City Council hired a new parks head, honored the local Future Farmers of America chapter during National FFA Week and purchased new fire department equipment on Feb. 22.
Last week was National FFA Week and the city presented a resolution to Ben Cook, president of the chapter at Houston High School. A full week of activities had been planned to commemorate the week before inclement weather arrived. Accompanying Cook was his sister, Addison, who is the chapter vice president.
Presentations also were made Police Chief Brad Evans and Fire Chief Robbie Smith about their departments’ activities in 2021. (Detailed features appeared previously in the newspaper)
Smith also presented equipment proposals that were handled by the council. As part of an annual rotation plan, two breathing apparatuses were purchased at a cost of $19,774, which was below budget. The council also authorized rescue equipment that will spread and cut metal at accident scenes. The cost was $11,876, also under budget. Smith explained the machinery can pop open doors and cut off a roof of a vehicle. The city has a dedicated sales tax for police, fire and parks matters.
In other matters, members:
•Approved a parks board recommendation to hire Brandon Mayberry as the new director. That came following three interviews. He begins his job on March 7.
•Heard City Administrator Scott Avery highlight year-end budget matters, including a year-end surplus of $977,360, credited partially with increased sales tax revenue that has continued into the new year. He also highlighted the most recent sales tax report.
•Heard a request for new striping on U.S. 63 by the Missouri Department of Transportation.
•Heard Mayor Willie Walker highlight a motion in a closed session of the council on Feb.7 as minutes were approved. (It had not been highlighted in the last council published report and passed unanimously.) It was to continue the status quo for the LAGERS retirement program until an investigation is complete regarding elected officials, city attorney and city judge.
•Authorized the purchase of three CDs from The Bank of Houston, totaling $100,000 each for terms of 12, 24 and 36. It is part of the city’s ongoing staggering of maturities of CDs.
•Okayed a new fence for the tennis court at Westside Park for $23,600, where other expanded offerings also are planned this year.
•Approved lease agreements with Houston Area Chamber of Commerce and Public Water District No. 3.
•Bought a fiber splicer for its broadband program for $9,903.
•Discussed again an incentive policy for new housing starts and forwarded a draft worked on by the city and the Industrial Development Authority to the city attorney. It also continued discussions on a mowing policy before the start of the growing season.
•Heard plans to lease a new electric bucket truck are progressing.
•Heard Walker close the meeting on why he hadn’t responded to the newspaper seeking input about city-obtained health insurance. He cited past reporting he said was incorrect and another incident where settlement of a civil action didn’t receive the publicity as when filed. “So with all the misleading information and mistakes, and views that is pushing the fence one direction, I choose to distance myself from the publisher, and will continue to do so in the future.”
•Adjourned into a closed session, according to draft minutes, where a motion from Alderman Sam Kelley and a second from Alderman Michael Weakly was passed unanimously for permission to disclose in open session what was discussed on Jan. 3, Jan. 18 and Feb. 7 in regards to the topic of health insurance for the mayor.CCF_000476-1