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Onalaska holds annexation hearing, begins update process for city code
BY LEW VAIL
The City of Onalaska held a workshop prior to the Annexation Public Hearing and the Regular City Council meeting Tuesday. The workshop was for the purpose of selecting the topics for a proposed Municipal Code update. The city will consider replacing existing codes with the International Property Maintenance Code, NFPA Chapter / National Electric Code, the International Energy Code (now mandated by the state), the International Existing Building Code and the Fuel Gas Code. The council will vote on a proposed code revision at a later meeting. They also conducted a final review of the sign ordinance addressing issues such as definition of off premise signs "within the city or extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ), restrictions in size and height – limit to 100 square feet and 20 foot in height, permit requirements – not included in prior ordinances and provisions for appeal – also not included in prior ordinances. At 6:30 p.m. Mayor Newport called the third public hearing on the proposed annexation of a portion of Old Town and the acreage and homes on Phillips Road. The only citizens at the hearing were in favor of the annexation. Council will probably consider annexation at the April meeting now that the necessary hearing has been completed. The regular meeting began at 7 p.m. and since there were no public forum speakers, the first item was Darla Dear, representative for Belt, Harris, Pechacek, LLLP; the auditing firm for the city, who presented the 2011-12 audit. The audit received the highest rating, and Ms. Dear complimented City Secretary Angela Stutts for her work and efficiency, also noting that the management letter contained no issues that need attention. Council accepted the audit. Police chief Ron Gilbert is on vacation, so Captain John Maddox reported on activities for the month of April. The department made 76 calls and handled 401 non-dispatched calls, made four felony arrests, 49 misdemeanor arrests, wrote 133 citations and 20 warnings. They assisted Polk County Sheriff's Office six times opened 41 new cases and four DWI/Narcotics cases while driving 5,726 miles. Reserve officers worked a total of 120.6 hours 18 days during the month. Council member and Assistant Chief James Arnett reported for the fire department. During February, the department responded to 23 calls, 13 medical, one landing zone, three assists, two grass fires, four structure fires – spent 30 man-hours in the county and 15 on city calls. OVFD is getting ready for the annual April barbecue, for the 30th time. There were a total of eight building permits issued during the month four for electrical, one commercial, two additions and one repair. Robert Appelbaum reported for the City Library Board that the annual report is nearing completion and will be sent in on time; the board is working on revising the procedure manual to address changes required due mainly to system and operational issues. Lark Jarvis reported on the library activities for February; current borrowers are 2,269 up 17 and the collection was weeded by 98, mostly outdated material down to 8,761. The Library was open 19 days, had 969 books circulated for a daily average of51, there were 573 patrons and 232 people used the computers. Faxes, copies and printing raised $258.79, fines added $25.60 new member fees $9 and postage for lending library returns was $5.13, there was $4.95 collected for a lost book and donations totaled $18.65. Mayor Newport moved an item up on the agenda at this time in order to have council approve the appointment of Laura "Lark" Jarvis as the new Library Director/ Librarian, saying she was the unanimous choice of the selection committee. Captain Maddox returned to Council with a request to appoint Forrest Tooley, a veteran office to the Onalaska reserves, council obliged and Mayor Newport performed the swearing-in Ceremony. Next council approved a proclamation for "Paint the Town Purple" which is an activity of the American Cancer Society declaring April 8 through April 13 as PAINT THE TOWN PURPLE DAYS in Onalaska, and encourages the citizens to be proactive in supporting cancer research. Council then considered and passed Resolution 13- 002 that "Texas must design and implement statewide telecommunications plans that levels the playing field for local telephone companies that want to serve Texas business and families with modern, well-maintained wireline networks, even if they do not live and work in a major metropolitan area". And further resolved that the 83 Legislature enact legislature to ensure; "1 – all Texas business and families continue to have access to an affordable, well-maintained telecommunications network, no matter where they live and work or travel; 2 – wireline networks critical to police, fire, medical and other emergency services that serve Texans who live, work, vacation or travel in rural Texas are wellmaintained; 3 – Texas can rebuild damaged wireline networks when hurricanes, tornados or other natural disasters occur; and 4 – wireline networks connecting cell towers providing mobile telephone and other wireless services are well-maintained." Be it further resolved – "Texas cannot afford to jeopardize its businesses, schools, emergency responders or health care facilities through a lack of access to affordable, reliable telecommunications services." Council approved the resolution. Announcements included; the 30 Annual Easter Parade is March 23 starting at the Fire Station at 10 a.m. and the Easter Egg hunt for 10,000 eggs will be at 11 a.m. at Bonner Park. The R.O.T.C will lead the parade and hide the eggs as usual, every one is welcome to bring a float, car, truck and join in the fun. Hwy. 190 traffic will be guided to use Onalaska Loop during the parade. Waterfront Lodge is hosting a Crawfish and Cowboys event March 22 and 23, get tickets early for free crawfish. Onalaska FVD is gearing up for their Annual BBQ and Auction. Auction will be Saturday April 27 from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m. They will start serving BBQ Wednesday the 24 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (They will deliver large orders so call ahead). Clean-up Onalaska Day at the sub-courthouse will be April 20 from 8 a.m. till Noon. Clean-up Lake Livingston is Saturday May 4, many activities at the State Park. With no further business the meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.