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Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - January 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk Count
y Publishing Company

Uplift task force shares vision with city council
Polk County Enterprise - January 2009

LIVINGSTON – Leaders of a new community task force organized to help clean up the west end of town shared their vision and progress with city council Tuesday evening. Rev. Kenneth Darden and Sylvia Lyons spoke on behalf of Uplift Community Organization, a volunteer-based task force working with the city to determine ownership of abandoned properties and encourage and help homeowners to clean up their property. City Manager Marilyn Sutton reported that city council had fi rst considered the issue during planning sessions last June and had decided to open a dialog with community leaders about property maintenance and related issues. After initial contacts were made by Mayor Clarke Evans and Alderman Bill Wiggins, L.C. Youngblood and Darden began working to form the “uplift” organization. The group is concerned about dilapidated buildings, litter and narcotics activity in their community, according to Lyons. “There are several blocks that have had trash for years,” Lyons said. She specifi cally mentioned areas along Starghill Street and Davis Avenue. Lyons said she has spoken with City Inspector Ben Buchanan and they have exchanged information in an effort to locate people he has been unable to contact for as long as four years. “Four years is a long time for trash to be on a corner,” Lyons said. She said she visited with a resident about the issue recently and she believes that just talking to them about the trash will help. “I see them in church, so I think that will encourage them to take care of it.” Evans applauded Lyons’ efforts, saying neighbors talking to and helping neighbors would eventually solve the problem. Lyons is working on eight specifi c lots with cleanup issues. Her initial research has led to some surprising results. “There are people I know who have been living in a place for 10 to 15 years and they don’t own it. And some of them don’t know it, either. They’re paying the taxes so they think they own it.” The group is also taking a play from Habitat For Humanity’s playbook and creating an Adopt a Street program, Lyons said. She heard about the idea from Habitat’s Susie Gearing. Lyons also complimented the efforts of the city police and said there has been a big improvement in their presence and involvement. Rev. Darden told the council that fl iers have been distributed around the community and there will be a general assembly at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 at Dunbar Gym. The group will to share its plans and vision for the organization. “None of these issues happened overnight,” said Darden, “and they won’t be solved overnight, but it is better to move an inch at a time than to be stuck.” City Attorney Gaffney Phillips reported on a request from Rapid Communications to transfer their cable franchise to RB3, LLC. Phillips said that she has been trying to determine if the transfer is an outright sale from one company to another or just a transfer within the same company to a separate division. “If there is a transfer by sale, before the transfer can take place there must be public hearings and notice of at least three weeks prior to the public hearing,” Phillips said. The new company must also agree to the terms of the franchise and abide by city ordinances. Phillips has received no response or confirmation of the exact plans and company executives have not returned her phone calls. She also informed the council that Rapid Communications has not signed the pole attachment agreement for 2009, leaving an unpaid bill of $14,000. Rapid Communications also cancelled the required bond with the city. Mayor Evans said he has heard numerous complaints around the community about the poor service and billing problems with Rapid Communications. Phillips and Sutton concurred, saying the city has received many complaints as well, however, the city’s only real option would be to cancel the franchise, in which case the company’s customers would be left without service and the only other cable provider in the city, Telcom Supply, would be left without competition. In 2005 the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 5 which gives franchising authority to the state once existing local agreements expire. The franchise agreements the city has in place now will expire in 2010 – Telcom Supply – and 2011 – Rapid Communications. The bill was designed to encourage competition in the communications industry by preventing cities from imposing unreasonable ordinances on franchisees like requiring buildouts of existing systems. After a closed executive session, the council approved the request for qualifications for architectural/engineering services for the Wadsworth building renovation project.



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