|San Jacinto News-Times - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
Shepherd discusses new shelter, election dates
San Jacinto News- Times
SHEPHERD -- Shepherd City Council members voted to move forward with the construction of its new emergency shelter Monday night during its regular monthly meeting. Construction of the shelter, which is paid for by Hurricane Ike funds, went to the lowest bidder out of seven contractors vying for the job. Cook Construction, Livingston, won the bid at $646,000. Council members voted to add a larger meeting room to the facility at an additional cost of $79,000, bringing the total cost of the 40x 60 foot cinder block building to $725,000. According to architect Malcom McKinley, construction on the new shelter could begin in a couple of months. Council members are in the process of determining the best way for the city to change future city election dates. According to City Attorney Larry Forrester, due to Senate Bill 100 the county will not be able to have enough electronic voting machines and staff to run an election for the city and school board in the spring so the city has three choices to make: (1) the city can purchase or lease election equipment which is very costly; (2) the city can move city elections to the month of November; or (3) the city can have one election every two years in May, electing all members of the council and the mayor at one time. Forrester told council members if they decide to move city elections to November the city elections could get lost with all national and state elections at that time. He also said that if all council members and the mayor are elected at one time, the city could possibly be left with all new council members, leaving no one on the council with any experience. Forrester asked San Jacinto County Elections Administrator Sherryl Evans what she would advise the council to do. “The most cost effective thing to do would be to have the election in November,” Evans said. “See what Shepherd Independent School District is going to do and talk to your wife, neighbors and friends before making a decision,” Forrester told council members. “That may impact your decision.” Council members tabled a decision for further study and voted to put the item back on the city’s agenda in September for a vote. A discussion was held between Forrester and council members on new Texas Supreme Court rulings affecting enforcement of substandard buildings in the City of Shepherd and the city’s Building and Standard’s Commission. Not more than eight members serve on the commission and are appointed for two-year terms. If a building within the city is determined to be substandard, unsafe and dangerous by the commission the city may: 1. Issue notice to the record owner that the building is substandard and must be repaired, removed or demolished. 2. Issue complaints for violations of the ordinance. 3. Secure the building if permitted by the ordinance. 4. Recommend to the city council that abatement proceedings be commenced. If the property owner does not correct the deficiency legal action can be taken against the property owner, including a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 per day for violation of the ordinance or if the property is the owner’s homestead an amount not to exceed $10 per day for each violation. “It’s best to try and work out an agreement with the property owner instead of taking legal action,” Forrester told council members. In other business, council members approved applying for a loan in the amount of $960,000 from the State of Texas Infrastructure Bank to finance payment of relocation expenses of city water and sewer utilities along U.S. 59. Council members approved a motion to move the city’s firework’s display that was scheduled to be held July 4 to December as part of the Blue and White Christmas celebration. Council member Garrett Allbright took on several projects for further study, including construction of a dog park behind the Shepherd Community Center; clearing out ditches for proper drainage along streets behind TD’s Supermarket and reestablishing city law enforcement due to the rise in crime within the city. Allbright will gather more information and cost analysis on the projects and report back to the council at a later meeting.