Bridgeport City Council swears in new council

The group that adjourned Tuesday’s Bridgeport city council meeting was a different body from the one that started it.

Outgoing Mayor Keith McComis and council members A.Z. Smith, Bobby Brazier and Billy Fred Walker began the meeting, as outgoing councilmembers Kathy Kennedy and Jimmy Meyers did not attend.

The first group named Erika McComis acting city secretary while Jesica McEachern is on maternity leave, then canvassed the votes from the May 10 election – the last action of their terms for Smith and Keith McComis.

Before the vote, outgoing mayor McComis expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve the city.

“It’s been a real pleasure,” he said. “It may not have always been popular, but I always did what I thought we needed to do for the majority of the people. I felt like that’s who we were supposed to represent. I may have made some people mad, but I can live with that. I really had the concern of the majority of the people of Bridgeport.

“We made a lot of accomplishments in the last three years, and it hasn’t been just one entity. It’s been a partnership between the council and the employees of the city.”

Incoming Mayor Corey Lane presented the two with a framed proclamation and nameplate previously displayed in the council chambers.

“It is absolutely my pleasure as the incoming mayor to present these certificates,” Lane said. “The transition before you in a community like this is an incredible experience.

“Right after I was elected mayor and the results were known, I got phone calls from Keith (McComis), from many community members, from council members, all offering their support, their guidance, their information, their help It’s a very humbling experience, folks, to know that the people that you campaigned against are still willing to help. I can’t tell you how impressed I am. I look forward with optimism at the things that we can do here in Bridgeport.”

After taking the oath of office, Lane opened the floor to the other incoming council members.

“I feel very blessed and honored to have been voted in by the people,” said David Correll, who replaced Smith in Place 1. “I’m here for the people. I look forward to visiting with them and doing what we can for them.”

“I also want to thank everyone for their support,” said Calvin Coursey, who won Place 2. “I’ve lived in Bridgeport all of my life, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve the city.”

POSTPONED

In order to ensure that the newly seated council members had sufficient time to research the information before making a decision, officials postponed a decision on awarding a proposal for the installation of an on-site septic system at Bridgeport Municipal Airport and granting a special exception allowing a 1,088 square-foot-home in the 1200 block of Brush Street. City ordinance, which was amended in February, says dwellings must be at least 1,200 square feet.

They did:

  • reappoint Karen Green to a third two-year term as municipal court judge and gave her a 3-percent raise.
  • waive the rental fee for the pavilion and agree to temporarily closing 10th Street between Halsell Street and the entrance to the Building Center and Cates Street from 9th to 11th streets 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 7, for the Cub Scout Soap Box Derby.
  • authorize the Wise County Appraisal District to sell real property previously struck off the tax roll for delinquent taxes.
  • approve the May 6 meeting minutes.
  • review the May 8-21 payment report in the amount of $570,597.17.

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Bridgeport to swear in new council

Half of the Bridgeport City Council will change Tuesday.

After the old council canvasses the votes, newly-elected mayor Corey Lane and councilmembers David Correll and Calvin Coursey will be sworn in, joining sitting council members Jimmy Meyers, Bobby Brazier and Billy Fred Walker to consider city business.

The agenda includes:

  • awarding a proposal for the installation of an on-site septic system at Bridgeport Municipal Airport;
  • authorizing the Wise County Appraisal District to sell real property previously struck off the tax roll for delinquent taxes;
  • appointing Erika McComis as acting city secretary while Jesica McEachern is on maternity leave;
  • granting a special exception allowing a 1,088 square-foot-home in the 1200 block of Brush Street. City ordinance, which was amended in February, says dwellings must be at least 1,200 square feet.
  • reappointing Karen Green to a third 2-year term as municipal court judge.
  • waiving the rental fee for the pavilion and temporary closing 10th Street between Halsell Street and the entrance to the Building Center and Cates Street from 9th to 11th streets on June 7 for the Cub Scout Soap Box Derby.
  • reviewing minutes and the May 8-21 payments of $570,597.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 900 Thompson St. It is open to the public.

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Lane brings experience to city council

Corey Lane may be new to the governing body of the city of Bridgeport, but he is no stranger to politics.

Lane, a business owner/operator, ousted Councilwoman Kathy Kennedy, who was elected to the council in 2012, in the race for mayor.

“I may not have served on the council, but experience comes from a lot of different sources,” Lane said. “I certainly understand how the game is played.”

Before opening Furniture Supercenter in 2008, he worked as a political consultant and even fancied himself a politican at the national level when he was “young and ambitious.”

“But then I realized there are a lot of unscrupuluos people in that world, and I didn’t want to be a part of that,” he said. “Politics is about compromise, and I couldn’t do that. I believe it’s important for the values you have to stand alone.”

Those values will drive the changes Lane plans to bring to the council – both in-house and by the public.

“Voters want to see a change in the direction of the council,” he said. “There are some attitude challenges that are happening. City government is not perceived as being friendly … We’ll bring a different attitude when we get started.

“There are some wonderful people working for the city, and they can and will do their jobs,” he continued. “But they’ve been micromanaged. I intend to get out of their way. These are wonderful people that can make a difference if they’re allowed to do what they’re supposed to do.”

Lane said he also hopes to alleviate a longtime burden for the benefit of not just citizens, but also potential businesses – electricity.

“Bridgeport is really a neat place to be,” he said. “It may never be the sprawling metropolis that Decatur is because it’s not on a major highway. But we are not singing our praises loud enough to let people to know that we have a lot to offer.

“As mayor, I will represent not only our constituents but also represent Bridgeport and the community at large, inviting businesses to come in and set up here,” he continued. “We have issues with electric utilities. But we’ll address those issues so that we can attract businesses that will bring jobs for people and prosperity for all.”

Although he hopes to work with businesses, his focus will be the body of constituents who elected him to office.

“The concept that people cast their vote to give you their trust and say, ‘We want you to go serve for us’ is incredibly humbling,” he said. “I don’t take that responsibility lightly …

“I will represent the voters to the city council, and I can assure the voters that their issues are going to be considered and heard,” he continued. “Not everyone is going to get what they want; that’s not the way it works. But they will be heard. And if that’s the case, the council is doing their job … We’ll certainly do the best we can.”

Lane – along with David Correll, who defeated incumbent A.Z. Smith for place 1 on the council – and Calvin Coursey, who edged Art Velasquez for place 2 – will be sworn in at the scheduled council meeting May 20.

“Once we’ve been sworn in, they’ll have us take over the meeting,” Lane said. “The expectation is that the agenda will be procedural stuff at best … I wouldn’t want to vote on something I have not researched.”

Lane admits he has a lot to learn but is looking forward to the challenge.

“I’ve already been in contact with the city administrator, and I’m looking forward to going through orientation in the next week to see what hand we’ve been dealt,” he said Tuesday. “The previous mayor and council have lots of things going. So we’ll look at all of that to decide to continue the programs that make sense and abandon those that don’t.

“I looking forward to getting started.”

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Administrator receives a raise

Last April, Bridgeport City Administrator Brandon Emmons got a contract extension. This year, he gets a raise.

After meeting in executive session, the city council Tuesday unanimously approved increasing his salary by 3 percent, effective Monday.

His base salary will be $100,780. Emmons received a 3-percent raise in April 2012.

“He did a great job getting the city out of the financial mess it’s been in,” Mayor Keith McComis said. “I am very pleased with the work he’s done.”

The extension to his contract last year goes through April 2015. Emmons has been with the city since April 2010.

SIDEWALK TALK

For the third – and last, they hope – time in the last two months, the council granted a special exception to the same sidewalk rule.

The city’s design manual requires a sidewalk be included in building construction. In all instances where the exception was granted, there are no other sidewalks in the neighborhoods where the properties in question are located.

The exception granted at Tuesday’s meeting is for property in the 2200 block of Stonegate Blvd. According to City Secretary Jesica McEachern, the tract is one of the last developable lots in the area, and there are no other sidewalks in the subdivision.

During a workshop in the last half of the meeting, officials directed staff to amend the design manual so that sidewalks would be required at the start of a new development and not on all new construction in existing developments that do not have sidewalks already.

The amended policy will be voted on at a future meeting.

IN OTHER NEWS

At Tuesday’s meeting, the council also:

  • after meeting in closed session, approved by a vote of 3-2 to purchase the property at 1308 10th St. for $275,000, to be paid out of the unrestricted general fund balance. McComis said the city hopes to establish a veterans’ museum there. Councilmen Jimmy Meyers and A.Z. Smith opposed.
  • allocated $14,900 in unappropriated funds for a Christmas tree, lights and other holiday decorations for city buildings. “We need to do whatever it is that we have to do to build a feeling of community through this city,” Councilwoman Kathy Kennedy said. “Christmastime is the one time we can all band together.”
  • entered into an agreement with Gary Osier Presents and Mars Hill Band for a Concert in the Park Saturday, July 26. The band plays Texas country and some ’80s pop, which was what citizens voiced as their preference on a Facebook poll.
  • amended an interlocal agreement with the Bridgeport Economic Development Corp. outlining the funding responsibilities of all parties involved in the construction of a natural gas line to the future site of U.S. Ply Inc. A grant from the Texas Capital Fund will pay for most of the project. Any overage will be captured by the EDC.
  • granted a special exception for an RV cover that does not meet the side yard setback in the 2200 block of Stonegate Blvd. The council had granted the property owner, Terry Carlton, a special exception more than a year ago for a carport. According to city ordinance, property owners have 90 days to pull a permit to build under the special exception. Carlton was asked to reapply for a special exception, and he did, this time for an RV cover. He also asked for and was granted a six-month extension to begin construction.
  • proclaimed April National Safe Digging Month and April 13-19 Telecommunicator Week.
  • reviewed the April 3-16 payment report totaling $651,693.71.
  • heard a budget variance report on the March financials.
  • approved the April 1 meeting minutes.

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Meyers retains post on council

No special election was needed in the city of Bridgeport after all.

After receiving only one filing for place 3, the city council voted to cancel the special election and declare the incumbent, Jimmy Meyers, elected.

The city had called a special election to fill the unexpired term.

Meyers was appointed to the post in August to fill a vacancy created when Kevin Lopez resigned. Although there are two years left on the term, according to local government code, the person appointed to fill the vacancy serves only until the next regular election.

IN OTHER NEWS

The council also:

  • approved a .78 increase to municipal telecommunications right-of-way access line rates as calculated by the 2014 consumer price index. The rates increased to 59 cents for residential accounts, 69 cents for non-residential and $3.68 for point-to-point. Councilmember Kathy Kennedy opposed the motion, which passed 4-1.
  • amended the budget to increase by $101,662 the amount allocated for the runway extension project at the city’s municipal airport.
  • allowed the library to renew its Annual Report and Accreditation Application for the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. As a member of TSLAC, the library receives free and low-cost consulting, education services and support for projects including literacy, English as a Second Language and automation.
  • granted use of the library to Cook Children’s Health Care System to conduct four Parent Caf sessions. The sessions are designed to help parents deal with challenges they may face in raising their children.
  • waived the rental fee for use of the Community Center to Head Start for group functions.
  • heard an annual report from library staff.
  • approved the March 18 meeting minutes.
  • reviewed the March 20-April 2 payment report in the amount of $114,446.37.

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Veterans park on Bridgeport City Council agenda

Tuesday, the Bridgeport City Council will continue to discuss the development of a veterans park in the city.

The matter was tabled at the council’s last meeting, held on the night of the primary election.

Mayor Keith McComis, a candidate in the county judge race, left the meeting early. It was his idea to establish a veterans park.

At its 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday, the council will review parcels of land owned by the city that could be used for the park.

PARK MATTERS

The council will also consider adopting an ordinance outlining rules for the Lawdwin Ball Fields facilities.

The regulations prohibit pets (except service animals), alcoholic beverages, drugs and the smoking of tobacco products on the grounds.

Parks and rec staff will also present for the council’s approval renewal of the facility use agreement with the Bridgeport Youth Association.

Under the agreement, which was first adopted in February 2012, the city provides the sports fields and associated maintenance for games and practices.

In turn, BYA is responsible for providing the Parks and Rec Department with a schedule 14 days in advance, conducting background checks on coaches and officials, keeping the facility clean after each league activity and leaving Wednesdays open for any team to practice.

The renewal is for one year.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the council will also:

  • hear a report on the city’s audit, conducted by Rutledge Crain and Co., for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013.
  • conduct the annual review and affirmation of the city’s investment policy adopted April 2.
  • consider amending the budget to designate $1,550.95 from the Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (LEOSE) for police officer training.
  • consider granting a special exception on the sidewalk requirement for property in the 2000 block of Stevens Street in the Stagecoach Addition. According to the city’s engineering design manual, sidewalks must be constructed with the paving of street or when building construction occurs in residential areas. However, there is no other home with sidewalks in the housing division where the property in question is located.
  • consider temporarily closing different streets for the intermediate school’s fun run Friday, May 2, and the Bridgeport Area Chamber of Commerce’s Butterfield Stage Days Festival Saturday, May 10.

The meeting is open to the public.

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Brtidgeport City Council to discuss sidewalks, veterans park

Tuesday is primary election night, and even though its leader is in the running for county judge, the Bridgeport City Council will meet as usual.

Mayor Keith McComis faces Chico Mayor J.D. Clark and former commissioner Kyle Stephens in the race for the county’s top elected office.

In a workshop, the council will discuss the Halsell Street sidewalk and street paving projects as well as using vacant land owned by the city for a veterans park. McComis presented the idea at the council’s last meeting in January.

In a public hearing, the council will consider granting a special exception on the city’s masonry requirement to BEFCO Engineering Inc. on behalf of Holt Cat. The company plans to build a service shop and wash rack on its property on U.S. 380, which is zoned commercial.

According to city ordinance, all new structures built in such a zone must be constructed of 100 percent masonry on the front fa ade and 50 percent on all remaining sides.

BEFCO Engineering has requested a special exception, stating that both structures will be located at the back of the property and will not be a focal point of the site when viewed from the highway.

In other news, the council will also consider:

  • waiving the rental fee for use of Lawdwin Ball Fields and Bridgeport Community Center for fundraisers;
  • the Feb. 20 through March 5 payment report in the amount of $219,954.22;
  • the quarterly report on the city investment portfolio as of December 2013 and the budget variance report on the city’s January financials;
  • the Feb. 4 and 18 regular meeting minutes; and
  • proclaiming March 17-23 Poison Prevention Week.

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Assaults, vehicle thefts up; Larceny, burglary, forcible rape decrease

Assaults and motor vehicle thefts are on the rise in the city of Bridgeport, while other types of crime are down, according to Police Chief Randy Singleton.

Among the two categories that saw a rise in 2013, assault calls increased from 59 in 2012 to 65.

“A lot of these are domestic violence calls at night with family members fighting and someone gets hurt,” Singleton told the city council Tuesday night.

The only other category to see an increase last year was motor vehicle theft, which jumped to six from two the previous year.

Larceny/theft incidents decreased from 83 to 71, and burglary from 19 to 14. Forcible rape numbers dropped from 4 to 1.

No murder, manslaughter/negligence or robbery cases were reported.

Officers made 412 arrests in 2013, up from 384 the year before.

“Most of those were drug or alcohol related,” Chief Singleton said.

In 2013, the department filed a report with the state for 68 motor vehicle accidents, down from 77 the previous year.

Officers issued 2,203 citations and 5,187 warnings compared to 1,937 citations and 5,018 warnings in 2012.

Investigators worked 107 cases and issued 38 warrants.

Bridgeport PD logged 53,203 calls for service, up from 46,979 in 2012.

“This is anything that takes an officer’s time – security checks, traffic stops, community relations,” Singleton said.

Singleton also presented the racial profiling report, which is submitted to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE).

In 2013, the departments made 2,259 motor vehicle stops – 2,031 of which resulted in a citation, 142 in arrest and 86 both.

Of those stops, 1,648 were Caucasian, 543 Hispanic, 51 African, 14 Asian, two Native American and one Middle Eastern.

Race was known prior to the stop for 2,199 of those.

Officers conducted a search 248 times – and 83 of those searches were consented.

“Many of the other 165 ‘not consented’ were because the person was under arrest,” Singleton said.

IN OTHER NEWS

The council also:

  • approved by a vote of 3-2 a restated agreement with Bridgeport ISD as discussed at the last council meeting. The city is to fund 83 percent of the salary of a school resource officer in exchange for half of the cost of $568,142.70 in property. Council members Kathy Kennedy and A.Z. Smith cast the dissenting votes.
  • discussed erecting a veteran’s park on a piece of vacant land owned by the city. Because the item was under the discussion portion of the meeting, no action was taken.
  • proclaimed April as Fair Housing Month. As a recipient of the Texas Community Development Block Grant, the city is required to make this declaration to “affirmatively further fair housing.”
  • reviewed the Feb. 6-19 payment report in the amount of $714,623.37.

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Bridgeport city dollars will fund SRO salary

It may have taken three years, but the city of Bridgeport will finally fulfill a past-due obligation to the school district.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Bridgeport City Council authorized staff to tack an additional three years onto an existing agreement with BISD to pay the salary of a school resource officer.

In August 2007, the city agreed to pay 83 percent of the salaries for two school resource officers through the end of the 2013 school year in exchange for a 50-percent discount on the bus barn and ballfields, valued at $568,142.70.

But due to cutbacks at the city in February 2010, one of the SRO positions was eliminated and never reinstated.

“Our options are, we pay cash for the remainder of the obligation for the property or continue with the school resource officers for additional years with the city funding 100 percent of that until the debt is paid,” said city administrator Brandon Emmons. “It’s about $142,000 that we still owe the school for (the property).”

After much deliberation, city officials opted for the latter.

“If we can work this out by letting that officer stay three more years, this is doing two things,” Mayor Keith McComis said. “It’s getting our debt paid and giving security at the schools.”

MOBILE HOME DISTRICTS

Council members also amended the city’s regulations on manufactured housing.

The new regulations:

  • require the homes be connected to municipal water and sewer within 30 days of placement;
  • define the minimum size for a manufactured home as 320 square feet;
  • require lots be 10,890 square feet per unit for manufactured housing parks;
  • prohibit detached roofs over mobile homes and
  • require the front doors of the homes face the street.

IN OTHER NEWS

The council also:

  • waived the rental fees and security deposit of Bridgeport Community Center, Harwood Park and Bridgeport Stage for use by Wise County Special Needs Baseball.
  • granted a special exception on a sidewalk ordinance to Chuck Worrell, who plans to build in the 700 block of Timberline Drive in the Fair Oaks Addition. The rule requires sidewalks be included in the construction of new homes. No property in the housing division has a sidewalk. “It would be a sidewalk to nowhere,” he said.
  • awarded a one-year bid for non-consent towing in the city of Bridgeport to Rick’s Towing. Vehicle owners are responsible for the costs.
  • postponed the construction start date and reimbursement request deadline on the construction of a public access road near U.S. 380. The construction start date was moved from Jan. 31 to June 30, pushing the reimbursement request deadline from March 31 to Aug. 31.
  • proclaimed Feb. 15-22 FFA Week.
  • reviewed the Jan. 23-Feb. 5 payment report in the amount of $217,376.02.
  • approved the Jan. 21 meeting minutes.

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Bridgeport City Council extends electricity contract in hopes of rate reduction

On multiple occasions, Bridgeport Mayor Keith McComis has voiced his opposition to long-term contracts – except when it translates to a reduction in costs.

Following a closed session Tuesday, the council unanimously approved extending the wholesale power contract with AEP through 2018.

“In return we hope to see a reduction in cost,” McComis said. “As soon as we get the paperwork signed, we could start seeing a reduction anywhere from 7 to 10 percent this first year. Over the three remaining years in the contract, it could be anywhere from a 2 to 5 percent decrease, depending on the cost of gas prices and other factors like that.

“We did get what I thought was fair.”

STREET CLOSURES

During its meeting, the council approved temporarily closing 10th Street north of Halsell Street 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, for the Wellness For Life Mobile Screening event.

The event is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The additional time allows for setup and breakdown.

Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital will park a mobile health screening unit that will provide mammograms, well-woman exams and take-home colon screenings. There will also be a walk-through colon exhibit.

Screenings are for all citizens, with or without insurance. Financial assistance is available for those without it.

To check for eligibility or to make an appointment, call 855-318-7696.

At the request of councilman Jimmy Meyers, officials discussed bypassing the council in approving street closures for city-related events, instead granting the authority to the city’s special events committee, which includes the director of parks and recreation, the Main Street/community relations manager, the GIS analyst, the director of transportation/airport services, and the chief of police.

“It just seemed like there was something every week, and it didn’t seem like it was a big deal, so why bring it?” Meyers said.

However the majority of the council said they appreciated knowing what was going on on Main Street and liked the ordinance as it was.

“It doesn’t take that much time,” Councilman A.Z. Smith said. “I’ve got plenty of time.”

No action was taken and the procedure remained unchanged.

IN OTHER NEWS

The council also:

  • appointed Councilman Smith to assist the economic development corp. board of directors in the hiring of an executive director.
  • approved disbursing $7,500 in Hotel Occupancy Tax dollars to the Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo committee, for advertising and marketing of the rodeo, to be held in May. Rodeo organizers at the meeting reported that last year’s event drew 1,600 spectators and 600 entries from 32 states, and was named among the top 10 small rodeos in the country by the PRCA.
  • increased the fees for the recording of plats by $30 for a single-page plat and $50 for a two-page plat, after the county clerk’s office raised its prices.
  • added microchipping pets to its list of services. Through Home Again, the city will offer the service for $19.99 per pet for Bridgeport residents and $24.99 per pet for non-residents. “If it makes (the animal control officer’s) job easier, and it helps somebody get back to their pet, I’m all for it,” said Mayor McComis.
  • re-enrolled as a Texas Main Street City at a cost of $535, which includes trainings for Main Street Manager Amber Fogelman.
  • OK’d the Jan. 7 meeting minutes; and
  • reviewed the Jan. 9-22 payment report in the amount of $813,527.88.

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Bridgeport council to discuss electricity contract, street project

Streets, electricity and personnel top the agenda of the Bridgeport city council’s meeting Tuesday.

During a workshop at the beginning of the meeting, the council will hear an update from the Economic Development Corp. board of directors on the search for an executive director. William Myers resigned from the post in December to take a similar job in Denison.

In a workshop toward the end of the meeting, officials will further discuss the Halsell Street sidewalk project and a list of recommendations by the Main Street Board. City staff have met with Halff Associates to devise a project schedule and price estimate.

Officials will discuss making changes to several ordinances, including manufactured housing, animal control fees, plat fees and street closure authorization.

The council will meet in closed session to discuss the wholesale electricity contract.

IN OTHER NEWS

The council will also consider:

  • temporarily closing 10th Street at Halsell Street 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, for the Wellness For Life Mobile Screening event;
  • dispersing $7,500 in Hotel Occupancy Tax dollars to the Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo committee, for advertising and marketing of the rodeo, to be held in May;
  • re-enlisting as a Texas Main Street City;
  • the Jan. 7 meeting minutes; and
  • the Jan. 9-22 payment report in the amount of $813,527.88.

The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., will be held at City Hall, 900 Thompson St.

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Bridgeport City Council to consider election, associated signage

The Bridgeport City Council will vote on a pair of political issues at its meeting Tuesday.

Officials will consider calling the May 10 general and special elections. The general election will be held to elect the positions of mayor and place 1 and 2 on the council, while the special election will determine a successor for place 3.

Jimmy Meyers was appointed to the post in August to fill a vacancy created when Kevin Lopez resigned. According to local government code, the person appointed to fill the vacancy serves until the next regular election.

During a workshop session, the council will discuss amending political sign regulations.

In accordance with House Bill 259, which was signed into law during the 83rd regular legislative session, electioneering is now allowed near polling places. However, provisions allow the entity owning the building to enact “reasonable regulations” in regard to the time, place and manner of electioneering.

Council will discuss the regulations it would like to enact.

The council will also consider:

  • an airport hangar lease transfer from Crisp Real Estate Partners LP to Ron Rieman;
  • the minutes from the Dec. 3 and Dec. 17 meetings; and
  • the Dec. 19-Jan. 8 payment report in the amount of $186,564.69.

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Council to award bids for parks, theatre

A couple of facilities in Bridgeport will soon get a facelift.

At its meeting Tuesday, the city council will consider awarding bids for improvements to Lawdwin Ball Fields and Bridgeport Stage, as budgeted for in workshops held this summer.

The council will also consider purchasing portable credit card machines for the parks and recreation department and a mini-digger derrick for the utilities department – items which were discussed in budget workshops.

During its meeting, the council will also hold two public hearings – one which will be the second reading on the juvenile curfew discussed at the council’s last meeting.

The other is a request for an exception to the ordinance that limits the number of driveways per single-family property to two. The owners seek permission to install a circle driveway – which would add two driveway entrances – to a property that already has a driveway.

The council will also consider:

  • extending a contract with Wise County Appraisal District for the assessment and collection of city property taxes in 2014,
  • authorizing the mayor, city administrator, city secretary and director of financial services to sign contractual documents associated with the Texas Community Development Block Grant Program for the reconstruction of certain water lines,
  • establishing direct deposit for the aforementioned grant project,
  • approving the minutes of meetings on Nov. 5, Nov. 18, Nov. 19 and Nov. 21, and
  • reviewing the Dec. 5-18 payment report in the amount of $570,605.50.

The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., will be held in the council chambers at 900 Thompson St.

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Council opts to ‘re-light’ downtown

All will be merry and bright in downtown Bridgeport after all.

City officials had opted not to replace bulbs in downtown Christmas lights this year, citing a liability.

But after fielding various complaints from downtown merchants and after an alternative plan yielded no better results, staff will hang lights and other decorations on Halsell Street.

After a request from Councilwoman Kathy Kennedy, city officials sought bids for hanging Christmas lights on select city buildings and erecting a community Christmas tree.

But returning quotes totaled $14,500 for lights and from $10,550 to another $14,000 for the tree, not including labor from city staff.

“I like the town lit up as much as anybody,” Councilman Bobby Brazier said. “But not for that much money.”

Instead, officals opted to set a limit of $5,000 for decorations for the 26 lighted poles on Halsell Street. In addition, the city’s utility department will replace light bulbs on the existing strands of lights that outline downtown buildings.

“My intent, whenever I asked for us to look at this, was to do something that would unify the community,” Kennedy said. “… If we go ahead and put the lights up like we’re talking about, put up decorations like we normally do and not spend that $20,000 … that would serve that purpose.”

CITY CHANGES ENGINEER

Council members also met for special meetings Monday, Tuesday before the regular meeting and Thursday to interview prospects for legal and engineering services.

After interviewing three candidates Monday, the council voted to retain the services of Taylor, Olson, Adkins, Sralla and Elam (TOASE) for city attorney.

The motion was made by Brazier and seconded by Jimmy Meyers. The motion carried 4-0 with A.Z. Smith abstaining.

On Tuesday before the meeting and Thursday, the council met with eight prospects for engineering services. After interviews on Thursday, Brazier motioned to change to Half Associates Inc. Meyers seconded, and the motion carried 4-0.

IN OTHER NEWS

During their regular meeting Tuesday, the council also:

  • awarded to Driver Pipeline a $258,447.40 bid for the construction of a natural gas pipeline to the future U.S. Ply plant site. It will be paid for with a Texas Capital Fund grant.
  • instated a fee of $50 in addition to the normal single lot fee of $450 for single lots to be converted to a double-casket lot at East Side Cemetery.
  • cast 42 votes for each Ray Cook Jr. and Mike Hurd to the Wise County Appraisal District board of directors.
  • changed the zoning of four lots in the 1800 block of 9th Street from single-family residential to manufactured housing district after a public hearing drew no comment.
  • approved an interlocal agreement with the county to provide fire protection and first responder services to designated unincorporated areas. In turn, the county compensates the fire department $4,200 a month.
  • awarded a $1,500 facade grant to The Hope Chest to help with the expense of removing the existing slip cover, restoring the transom windows, installing an awning and repointing the brick that was damaged in a storm in the summer of 2012.
  • disbursed $2,000 in hotel occupancy tax dollars to the high school boys basketball booster club to advertise for the Christmas Invitational Tournament to be held during the winter break.
  • authorized the temporary closure of Halsell Street between 9th and 16th streets 5:15 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, for the lighted Christmas parade.
  • reviewed the Nov. 7-20 payment report in the amount of $630,479.12.

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