Josh Hebblethwaite, left, explains a planned housing development to the Houston City Council during a meeting Monday night.

Members of the Houston City Council considered health insurance, equipment purchases and a councilman’s impeachment during a meeting Monday.


•Will advertise for bids for the city’s health insurance. (4-2, Sam Kelley and Michael Weakly no). Chase Marable, a managing director with Connell Insurance in Springfield, outlined the services the firm currently provides to the city’s workforce. The new policy year begins June 1, with a projected 6.9 percent increase in health costs.

•Upon recommendation of Mayor Willy Walker, will have the planning and zoning commission review drawings for a planned subdivision in Houston. (A related story appears in this week’s newspaper).

•Approved an Air-Pak breathing apparatus bid for the Houston Fire Department. The $20,777 bid was below budget estimates and also beats an April 1 price increase. Funds come from a one-cent sales tax that benefits the police, fire and parks services.

•Okayed the purchase of two mowers and a 72-inch Bush Hog following a meeting of the council’s public grounds committee and supervisor. The machinery cost is $25,433 from S & H Farm Supply at Dunn. The council also approved a recommendation to seek bids for the city’s annual asphalt program. A quarter-cent sales tax pays for the work.

•Decided to advertise for bids for hay at Houston Memorial Airport.

•Tabled discussion of the purchase of trencher to be used by city departments until additional specifications can be studied.

•Heard that a 2018 Ford Explorer used by the police department will be taken out of the fleet and sold. The county sheriff’s department is interested in acquiring it.

•Learned that a delay in obtaining parts for lighting improvements at the Houston Memorial Airport will mean work likely won’t start until May.

•Heard City Administrator Mark Campbell report that he is awaiting additional engineering drawings for a housing development on Hawthorn Avenue. Discussion of the project — where three duplexes have already been constructed — will likely occur at the council’s next meeting on April 3.

•Heard Alderman Don Romines ask the city pursue seeking utility line repairs from the responsible company where storm damage occurred on First Street, seek additional C.W. Harry street signage to assist a neighborhood bed and breakfast business and asked that better communication be followed when rezoning requests occur in the city.

•Killed a move by the mayor to set in motion the impeachment of Romines, which he had earlier proposed. He asked for a motion that would have had the board of aldermen sit as a board of impeachment to hear the allegations. The vote to move forward was Kelley and Weakly (yes) and Kevin Stilley, Sheila Walker and Angie Gettys (no) and Romines abstaining. Walker said he had consulted with an attorney about the process to insure it was correct, and city attorney Brad Eidson said the firm’s interpretation was wrong.

•Heard Walker question the council’s decision to extend an 8.3 percent cost of living raise to the city attorney, raising questions whether he was a full-time employee and his eligibility for retirement benefits. That’s the same increase received by the city’s workforce. Walker alleged the retirement benefit amounts to about $60,000 over 20 years. Eidson earlier said the benefit followed what had historically been extended to longtime city attorney William Gladden.

 “It sounds like to me like the corruption has been going on for 20 years and hidden because I’ve asked for this be voted out of here and it hasn’t three different times,” the mayor said.

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