NEWS HEADLINES

Council, veterans collaborate on museum

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, May 10, 2014

Although the details are still being hammered out, the Wise County Veterans Group will soon have a home in Bridgeport.

Last month, the city council approved purchasing the property at 1308 10th St. to establish a veterans’ museum.

At their meeting Tuesday, representatives of the city and the veterans group met to discuss the responsibilities of each.

Some city officials were under the impression that the city would provide the building, keep property insurance on it and take care of the utilities the city provides – water, sewer, electricity and garbage.

“Those are utilities we provide ourselves, and it’s very easy for us to absorb those costs as part of our operations cost,” City Administrator Brandon Emmons said.

But Mayor Keith McComis and the veterans’ group were under the impression that the city would also pay for liability insurance, custodial services, security and other utilities not provided by the city – telephone, cable and natural gas.

“I am a supporter of this project,” Emmons said. ” … But going into this deal, I did not foresee this ongoing expense that the city is going to be picking up. In this lease agreement we’re already accepting repairs and maintenance on the building itself, landscaping, utilities – now we’re adding gas and insurance, none of which have been budgeted for this year.

“If council says, ‘Yes, we’re good with that,’ we’ll find a way to make sure that it’s taken care of,” he continued. “But I just wanted to remind everyone that these are unbudgeted expenses that we’re going to be looking at for the next six months.”

But McComis and members of the veterans group contended the arrangement was already a done deal.

” … This was taken care of before we ever bought the building,” McComis said. “Had it not been decided that way, why would we have bought the building? … I thought this was all taken care of.”

Bob Johnson, a member of the Wise County Veterans Group, said he saw it that way as well.

“I thought that was the general consensus,” Johnson said. “The reason we would like that is, getting the museum started will be expensive … the less recurring costs that we have the better off we’re going to be and more successful.”

The veterans group would be responsible for the material and displays of the museum and would also be the ones to run it.

“We view this as a way of bringing Bridgeport into our scheme of having the veterans honored,” Johnson said. “We’re going to do a first-class job. And we’re going to see to it that Bridgeport gets put on the map.

“It will in the long run bring more businesses to the city of Bridgeport,” he added. “So the cost of gas and insurance you will have is going to be minimal …

“We’re looking forward to this venture.”

The council accepted those terms in a lease agreement that was approved unanimously.

IN OTHER NEWS

The council also:

  • renamed the softball field at Lawdwin Ball Fields as the Donnie Epperson Field and the multi-purpose field the Mark Clark field, at the request of the mayor. “Mark Clark is basically the one in this area that got soccer started,” McComis said. “He maintained that field after it was built – picking rocks up, getting stickers out … Donnie did the same thing for softball. He didn’t build the field by himself, but he went out and got donations, got the pipe and got the welders. I think it’s a good way to honor these people who have put in a lot of hard work.” Councilman Billy Fred Walker made the motion, Jimmy Meyers seconded. Kathy Kennedy and A.Z. Smith abstained. “I don’t feel like I know these people well enough,” Kennedy said.
  • approved a promissory note and supplemental loan documents with First State Bank to renew the city’s loan against a certificate of deposit used to fund repairs made to the Walter Hales Water Treatment Plant in 2012. The city renews this agreement annually.
  • denied a rate increase requested by Atmos Energy Corp. Kennedy abruptly made the motion to deny the rate increase but was interrupted by Smith. “Don’t we get to ask questions before voting?” he asked. When Mayor McComis gave him the go-ahead, Smith responded, “I don’t have any questions. It’s just a point of order.”
  • reviewed the city’s drought contingency plan, which outlines when officials enact emergency response stages to preserve water. No changes were made. The plan mirrors that of the Tarrant Regional Water District.
  • granted a trio of special exceptions to representatives of New A Malik Inc., the company that purchased the former Valero gas station at 101 U.S. 380. The exceptions permit contractors to erect two (instead of one) signs that exceed by 26 square feet the 100 square feet gross surface area limit.
  • granted its last exception to the sidewalk ordinance as it was originally written. The council waived the requirement that a sidewalk be constructed with a new home in the 2100 block of Stonegate Blvd., as there are no other sidewalks in the neighborhood.
  • adopted amendments to the sidewalk ordinance, designed to alleviate requests like the one mentioned above. According to the revisions, sidewalks are required at the start of a new development and not on construction in existing developments that don’t have sidewalks already.
  • dispersed $7,500 in hotel occupancy tax dollars to the Bridgeport Volunteer Department for its annual barbecue cookoff in September.
  • waived The Stage rental fee for the Bridgeport Area Orchestra’s recital on May 29.
  • agreed to pay an 11 cent-per-capita fee to continue its participation in the steering committee of cities served by Oncor.
  • reviewed the April 17-May 7 payments in the amount of $275,916.58.
  • proclaimed May national historic preservation month.
  • heard the quarterly report on the Bridgeport Visitor Center.

KEY EXCHANGE

The city of Bridgeport will pass the keys to the building located at 1108 W. 10th St. in Bridgeport to the Wise County Veterans Group at 10 a.m. Saturday for the purpose of establishing a Wise County Veterans Memorial Museum. The public is invited to see this new site and the plans for the museum.

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