City Council met in regular session last Tuesday and finalized plans to showcase Van Horn through a weather-cam program which will promote Van Horn to the KFOX service area. The six-month contract will also include a digital program highlighting Van Horn on Facebook, at a cost of $3500 per month. The program will be paid for by the Hotel/Motel tax, which is collected from visitors and must be used to promote local tourism by putting “heads in beds.” Four councilmen voted to approve the contract, with the lone dissenting vote coming from Lyndon McDonald. The program is slated to commence mid-February.
Charles Gonzalez, Van Horn High School principal, presented what he called a “living document,” to Council, which contained a policy and procedure manual in case of an emergency affecting the school. Mr. Gonzales explained that the manual gave guidance on how to conduct fire drills, shelter-in-place rules, shut-offs of utilities, and use of fire extinguishers and defibrillators. “In a nutshell, what happens if a tornado rolls by and does no damage except to the school?” Per Gonzalez, his document would address contingencies for continuation of the educational process per TEA guidelines, and named two other entities who would be involved, the Commissioners’ Court and the First Baptist Church. Included in the District plan is chain of command in the event that Superintendent Baugh is unable to make decisions, and includes Sheriff Oscar Carrillo, Fire Chief Lyndon McDonald.
Mayor Brewster asked Mr. Gonzalez how the District’s plan would tie into the existing City-County Emergency Management Plan. Alderman McDonald advised Council and Mr. Gonzalez that the current Emergency Management Plan, is a 600-page document that already addresses any emergency that might arise, and that the head of Emergency Management is by law, the County Judge and then the Mayor. The plan has to be approved by the State and cannot be superseded by any other plan.
On a renewal of an IT contract with PC Net, who has been the IT service provider for more than 20 years, Council opted to advertise the proposal for services for two weeks to allow qualified, interested local IT providers to apply for the position.
A request to approve a resolution offering TML-IEBP health benefits coverage to members, failed with four councilmen voting against the resolution and Councilman Karloss voting to approve the resolution. The resolution would have allowed Mayor Brewster or any council member to use their monthly stipend to buy into the City’s group insurance.
The company of Core and Main, was chosen out of three bids, to provide new water meters for the City. The winning bid was $298,677.72. This came after the city chose to put the contract out for rebid when the initial bid from another company came in with an exorbitant cost of over $390,000.
City Administrator Fran Malafronte asked Council to start thinking about projects for the next Texas Department of Agriculture 2021-2022 Community Development Fund application. Malafronte advised that water and sewer projects score high on proposed projects, but that since the City’s demographics have been changing, the chosen project could only address areas in town that meet the income criteria that 51% of the population fall below the poverty level.
In other action, Council:
- Asked Malafronte to survey other municipalities about their past due utility balances due to Covid and produce a policy addressing the problem in town
- Approved the closure of the Alley behind the King’s Inn after relocating the gas lines
- Approved an engagement letter from Knapp & Company, PC, to provide auditing services for the Town of Van Horn
- Denied a request from Hellas Construction, Inc. for a discount on bulk water rates
- Agreed on a Budget work session for Tuesday, February 16, at 7:00 p.m.