Houston City Hall

The Houston City Council took no immediate action Monday to override a mayoral veto of an action Oct. 17 that would have led to the painting of 15 Tiger paws on First Street.

Alderman Kevin Stilley said he suggested the project to spark community spirit in advance of a district football game and the council voted to donate $250 for the effort.

In a veto message, Mayor Willy Walker wrote that he opposed giving taxpayer money to another entity, such as the school, that already receives funds. He said the city should support community organizations that don’t receive tax funding. He wondered if that would open the door for other school organizations to want money. He also cited whether it was safe to paint on city streets. “I feel that there are other avenues that could be implemented that show school spirit that are much less controversial,” he wrote. Walker was unable to attend because of a back injury.

Board President Don Romines said the city supports numerous programs to better the community — ranging from youth basketball (without a rental charge from the school to the city) to a reading program that puts books into the hands of young children and the mayor’s prayer breakfast and fireworks, among several listed. He called the $250 a  legitimate expenditure to spark community pride and spirit and support the school district.

Stilley said the paws projects are undertaken at other communities and in Houston previously. The councilman said he’d reallocate his council salary check to help pay for it, if required. Alderman Sam Kelley said he believed the project should be financed privately. He suggested that the city donate to a group that benefits all students. He and Alderman Michael Weakly voted “no” earlier.

“I never dreamed in a 1,000 years that it would be an issue as petty as it has been,” Stilley said. “So the last thing I want to do is get our kids mixed up into a city politics deal. I would rather not have a Tiger paw painted on the street as opposed to have them caught up in a petty disagreement between the council and the mayor.

“I just think on matters like this. We’re all grown adults. We need to be able to talk it out without a big fight every time,” Councilwoman Sheila Walker said. “We should have been sitting here solving this ourselves and not let it go to this.”

The council took no action.


•Ratified two letters of support for a Houston School District project that is seeking grant funding for an expanding track. Missouri State Parks administers the Land and Water Conservation (LWCF) Grants. Funds have been tapped locally before — the City of Houston received funds for its renovated swimming pool project.

•Heard a delegation from Saturday’s Turkey Trot to benefit the Texas County Food Pantry. Brenda Senter, an organizer, asked for some help with traffic control and to coordinate safety. The city will assist. Senter reported organizers anticipate a bigger crowd this year and the school’s cross country program is participating this year. Laura Crowley, pantry executive director, also expressed thanks to the city for its assistance.

•Approved a resolution that will trigger an application for a $900,000 Community Revitalization Grant available through Missouri from funds it received from the American Rescue Plan Act. The financing is being sought to build a new branch of the Texas County Library in Houston. If successful, it would be constructed as the upper level of the Houston Storm Shelter. The vote was 4-1. (Kevin Stilley, Sheila Walker, Don Romines and Angie Gettys – yes; Sam Kelley — no; and Weakly — absent). An application for Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credits was completed earlier by the Texas County Library Foundation.

•Discussed the need to re-exam a fiber location on Piney Township right-of-way as culvert cleaning beginnings; mentioned the need to relocate a privately owned earth mover from near C.W. Harry Drive and Cleveland Road; parking in roadways on Hawthorn from Bryan Street west will be examined; and pedestrian safety for runners who use the bike lane near Holder Drive and Lilly Road was discussed during the 45-minute minute.

•Will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday to continue work on the city budget.

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