By Gilda Morales
Van Horn City Council met in regular session last Monday night and heard good news on several projects the city has been working on. Edward Torres, Director of Municipal Services, reported that TCEQ has finally approved the landfill permit but the actual opening will be delayed until some final, small details can be completed. Torres reported that opening the landfill will free up several employees from making the trip to the Sierra Blanca landfill, and sometimes the Clint landfill, to be able to work on other city projects.
Fran Malafronte, City Administrator, added that the opening will also mean that the city will realize substantial savings from being able to dump at the City landfill. She told council that the closure had cost the City upwards of four million dollars through the years.
Council also heard that work on the arroyos and drainage ditches is progressing with much of the work on the ditch by the old H&H and Pilot completed. Torres said that the cleaning will continue on the west side of Highway 90 toward the detention pond, which should be the responsibility of TxDOT. Torres said the clearing and dredging of the arroyos should alleviate much of the flooding that has plagued several areas in town, especially around First Street.
Mr. Torres told Council that his department has continued to pick up considerable amounts of bulk waste every Friday and suggested that the City pursue an education program for the residents, on how to get rid of their bulk waste. Council questioned Mr. Torres on the gas usage by the local sand plant and the possibility of the plant changing to electricity to power their burners. Torres informed council that the idea of using electricity had been discussed as an option to power a potential new plant so that gas would be available for the current gas plant.
Council then heard from Jamie Hudson on the progress of the new and old water tank inspections. Hudson stated that the inspections should be completed by the end of this week. Hudson also reported on the last requirements to open the local landfill per TCEQ, which include work on the road to the landfill and fencing, which can be satisfied by two-wire fence. As to the detention ponds, Hudson reported that his plan to reroute water discharge from the ponds to where they would drain on their own was acceptable to TCEQ. He noted that water levels were higher than usual due to high motel occupancy and water usage.
Malafronte updated Council on the status of the leaking roof at the convention center and stated that she had been in contact with the City’s insurance adjuster who was going to send a roofer to inspect the damage, and that there was still hope that the claim may be paid by the insurer. As to the issue with water being discharged at the golf course from the detention ponds, Malafronte stated that although there may be a chance that the current discharge plan may be grandfathered. However, if not, the discharge plan will have to be amended to comply with TCEQ regulations.
Council then turned their attention to plans to rehabilitate the City Pool, which is in need of major repairs. Last year, the repairs were put on hold after the City found that the concession building was unstable causing the pool to be unstable as well. City Manager Malafronte reported that because of the large scope and amount of money needed to repair the pool, she was required to send out requests for proposals to six different pool companies requesting bids on the project. The same request will need to be published for two weeks before the bids can be opened, with the deadline for bids to be received being February 28th. Malafronte reported that she had one proposal from a company that guaranteed that the pool would be opened by the second week in May, and plans are in the works for demolishing the current concession building and replacing it with a new one. Council voted unanimously to purchase 12 lots adjoining the City Park to the east belonging to Darice McVay, which would greatly enlarge the current size of the park. Malafronte told council that the lots would enable the City to put in a splash park, improved cook out areas and a walking trail.
The annual clean-up day was tentatively set for April 13th, with Malafronte reporting that the City was the recipient of a Council of Government grant in the amount of $8000 to go toward advertising and roll-offs for the project. The grant could also be used toward incentives for participants.
Raul Rodriguez, golf course manager, advised council that current TCEQ regulations mandated that water from the lagoons be discharged at the golf course at night, which results in extremely wet conditions during the day. Rodriguez also commented that because of the cooler weather, there was less evaporation, so that the wet conditions make it difficult for golfers to play. TCEQ rules also dictate that golfers should not play when there is discharge from the lagoons present on the course for safety reasons, so Rodriguez requested direction from Council on what to do when golfers want to play under wet conditions. Council told Rodriguez to use his discretion on when to open and told him that he could delay opening of the course until later in the day when the course was not as wet.