Members of the Houston City Council approved the purchase Monday of an electrical transformer for the needs of a large local employer and will make no changes related to city’s current grass policy.

The council approved the purchase of a transformer for use by the Durham Co. which operates two locations at the Houston Industrial Park off West Highway 17 and a third site off Walnut Street in a building owned by the school district.

The cost is about $86,097 and a second was purchased to act as backup for about $71,500. The city moved quickly on the request because of a long manufacturing time lag.

After several discussions and workshops, the council made no changes to the existing grass mowing policy that handles such things as grass height, procedures for the city mowing private property, notifying property owners and recouping its costs, as well as rights-of-way. A motion by Alderman Ross Richardson died to implement the latest document.

In other matters, members:

•Heard from Shannon Jordan, a community developer for the city, about plans for the upcoming relaunch of the Emmett Kelly Clown Festival on April 28-30. She reported positive feedback on the project, outlined some of the events planned and reported 25 vendors and five food trucks confirmed participating so far. She said 20 sponsors have contributed about $5,000 toward the festival. Volunteers are needed, and persons interested can contact her at city hall.

•Were introduced to the city’s new parks and recreation director, Brandon Maberry, who recently was hired to oversee the various programs.

•Heard a presentation about training of lifeguards used at the Houston Municipal Pool. Municipalities use different firms to guide it on ensuring safety. Members heard from Toni McKinney, who has overseen training at the pool, as well Kelly Beets of the Missouri Intergovernmental Risk Management Association, the city’s insurance carrier. The discussion came after the Houston Parks and Recreation Board voted to return to the American Red Cross training rather than StarGuard that it used last year. Under city ordinance, the parks manager makes the decision. If it moves to a council decision, a change in ordinance is required, the council heard.

•Approved a $21,400 expenditure as it works with a grant program to make improvements at the Houston Memorial Airport. Ultimately, grant money will pay a good portion of any work there.

•Continued work on a laddering program that will lead to staggered expiration periods for the CDs held by the city. The Bank of Houston was awarded three $100,000 CDs with the terms of 12, 24 and 36 months after inquiries with financial institutions.

•Were asked by City Administrator Scott Avery for suggestions for potential sites for ballfields and a recreation center.

•Heard Mayor Willy Walker praise the fire department and first responders for their dedication to serve the public.

•Donated $300 to Houston Celebration for Life that sponsors post-prom and post-graduation activities at Houston High School.

•Heard an update from Avery on research related to retirement benefits under a state plan that extends to council members who become vested after five years. He reported that he has found no paperwork so far that shows authority for the expenditure and has put benefits on “inactive” until the matter is figured out.

The issue came up as part of discussion in January related to health insurance benefits obtained by the mayor. At the meeting Monday, Walker wondered why nothing has been done with the retirement issue while the council has ordered him to repay more than $10,000 in health insurance benefits he received before coverage was severed.

•Adjourned into a closed session.

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