The Coleman City Council met Thursday, July 2. The Council went into Executive Session at 5:39 pm to discuss a complaint against City Manager Diana Lopez. The complaint was filed by a city employee. Back in open session at 7:00 pm, the City Council, on a 4-0 vote, approved the hiring of employment law attorney Melissa Cranford, Senior Attorney with Messer, Fort & McDonald PLLC, to conduct an investigation and to advise and assist the City Attorney in the resolution of the matter. From Mayor Tommy Sloan, "Since this is an ongoing personnel matter, no further information will be released at this time."
In other matters before the City Council:
Diana Lopez recognized Frankie Matthews, a City employee, for outstanding performance in a stressful situation, at the recommendation by Asst City Manager James King. On June 9, 2020 she took a phone call from someone in obvious distress and needing help. Assistant City Manager James King had her stay on the line while he contacted 911 to get assistance to her home. King said that Matthews went above and beyond in staying on the line with this woman, keeping her calm.
Lopez then gave more good news for the City of Coleman. They have received notification, from the State of Texas, that the City of Coleman has been designated as a Superior Public Water System. This is the highest rating given, and this means the water system exceeds the minimal standards of water quality, at the time of the testing. There are approximately 700 water systems of the 7000 total water systems in the state that received this designation.
Another item of high interest to residents, and downtown business owners, was the discussion of the adoption of a resolution awarding an engineering contract for a 2020 Downtown Revitalization Project grant application and project. Jacob & Martin, as the only firm that entered their bid in a timely manner, was selected. One other firm did provide a proposal bid that was postmarked after the required time and date. Jacob & Martin is the firm that handled the previous sidewalk renovation. They have pre-engineering information ready and available.
During this discussion with the Council, Lopez spoke about the Public Hearing that occurred on Wednesday evening. Business owners attended the hearing giving their thoughts on the process and how they hope it is done, this time. They requested the work be done during a time of the year that would not be detrimental to their businesses, such as during Christmas shopping. Also discussed Wednesday was the fact that two businesses had previously redone their sidewalks a few years ago with their own monies. They are asking that the sidewalks be left as is. Lopez stated that the engineering firm would have to check for ADA compliance on the existing sidewalks, but they are going to look closely at this. Another topic of discussion on Wednesday was the problems that arose during construction of the sidewalks in 2018. Errors were made and changes had to be done, which impacted the length of time for that project. Lopez said she wants to designate a project manager for this DRP construction, to ensure on-site observation of contractors. She has not given a suggestion, publicly, for who might be named Project Manager.
- COUNCIL VOTE: 4-0 City Council approved awarding an engineering contract for a 2020 Downtown Revitalization Project grant application and project to Jacob & Martin.
The council then held the first reading of an Ordinance granting the closing, vacating, and/or abandoning of South Frio Street, a Street located in the City of Coleman, generally described as the 300 Block of South Frio Street between West College Avenue and West Elm Street.
Lopez stated that discussions with CCMC began regarding the expansion of the hospital, with 34,000 additional square feet being added. The City received the official petition to close this street at that time. Discussions have been finalized and City Attorney Pat Chesser has drafted an Ordinance that will close the street. There were no comments at the Public Hearing held on this matter. The City's abandonment will automatically transfer the deed to the hospital, since they own all property on both sides of the street. Ordinance provides they will have to pay the appraisal costs. The city's appraiser gave a fair market value of $6800. However, a Chapter 380 Business Development grant to forgive the cost of the fair market value, has been written. The hospital still has to pay the cost of relocating sewer and water lines as needed.
- COUNCIL VOTE: 4-0 to close the 300 block of South Frio Street between West College Avenue and West Elm Street.
The last discussion before the Executive Session was over the interlocal agreement between the City of Coleman and the City of Novice for the City of Coleman's contribution of materials and labor to the City of Novice for the installation of an Emergency Siren to serve the Residents of the City of Novice, Coleman County, Texas.
Novice Mayor Bobby Green and Novice City Attorney Sara LeMoine Knox were in attendance. Novice received a grant from the Coleman County Foundation to install an emergency siren system. The siren will be installed at the Novice Fire station and is already there and ready to install. A licensed electrician must install it, so the City of Coleman will assist. Lopez said the City will donate a utility pole and their crew will go out to make the connection. Coleman County Electric Coop has agreed to set the pole for them.
- COUNCIL VOTE: 4-0 to approve the interlocal agreement for the City of Coleman to assist the City of Novice for installation of an Emergency Siren system.