Letter just muddies residents’ understanding of water system

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, January 2, 2013

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In addition to a voice in high-dollar matters, Paradise citizens also requested communication avenues and clear correspondence from the city at last Thursday’s city council meeting.

“There’s not a place to go, there’s not a website, there’s nowhere for us to find out information,” said Wendy Brackeen, who has lived in Paradise for four years. “We just happened to hear about the septic system… That’s why we’re here, to find out more information.”

Brackeen also expressed her confusion about letters sent with the water bills the past few months.

Residents have received letters after no water samples were turned in to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for quality monitoring in May and June. Another two batches of letters will be sent out, because samples were not received for August or September.

“It seems like [it’s] saying the water hasn’t passed some kind of test. We don’t know how to read that,” she said. “We don’t know what that means… It looks halfway legal terminology, or somebody who works with a water system. But none of us know what that means. Do I drink that water? Do I not?”

City Secretary Teresa Moody explained that the letters don’t outline anything wrong with the city’s water.

“There’s nothing that says you can’t drink it,” she said. “It simply said that the test was not taken. Our [city] water operator was sick for three months and failed to come and take water samples during those months.”

Moody added that the letter residents received is what TCEQ requoires be sent out.

“The state gives us a form letter with blanks that I fill in, and this is what we’re required to send out,” she said. “So I can’t add to that or take away from that. I have to send out just what the state says. That’s why it’s not written in common English… but the water tests fine. There’s nothing coming back saying there’s anything wrong with it. It’s simply, he (water operator Johnny Murrillo) didn’t turn in that sample. But he is recovered, he is back at work and getting samples in now. Hopefully it’s the last letter we have to send out to everybody.”

Mayor Sam Starr added: “If there was a danger, we’d be sure that everyone knew about it. Absolutely. We wouldn’t take a chance on anyone getting sick.”

He also suggested citizens call City Hall if they ever have questions, and Moody added that meeting agendas outlining various city issues are posted on City Hall doors three days before the council meets.

“In the days of technology, not everyone has the time to come by three days before and know when that is,” Bracken countered. “We’d appreciate some input. Some information that is distributed to the people who actually have a concern would definitely be better than not getting anything.”

In other news, the council:

  • named Roy Steel its mayor pro tem with a 2-1 vote. Largent cast the opposing vote saying he felt they should “wait until we have a full council.” The mayor added that a quorum counts as a full council.
  • accepted the resignation, effective Dec. 20, of former councilman Michael Robertson who has been assigned to work out of town and is not able to regularly attend meetings. The council will look at a replacement at its next meeting.
  • opted not to implement a municipal court. “We considered hiring a deputy and setting up court to help with any kind of mischevious things going on after hours and maybe get extra revenue for the city,” Starr said. “What we found out in the meantime is that by the time you set the court up, pay the deputies, pay their gas, pay the court clerk, pay the judge, pay the state – it just wasn’t cost-effective.”
  • declined a request from Southwest Petroleum Co. to purchase mineral and royalty interests for a total of $930. The city receives about $100 in royalties a month, which is turned over to Paradise Youth and Recreation Association.
  • was notified of the Tarrant Regional Water District’s intention to initiate stage I of the drought plan unless “we get some significant rainfall.” That initiation would trigger Walnut Creek Special Utility District’s drought plan, which would instate the city’s.
  • OK’d an annual contract with the Wise County Appraisal District for the assessment and collection of city property taxes.
  • approved its October and November meetings minutes and financial reports.

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