Hawkins City Council Meeting – August 21, 2017

By Linda Hernandez

“Our city park has become a safe haven for drug dealing and drug use in Hawkins and the criminal activity affects many things, including property values,” stated Wende Haney,  a resident of Hawkins who grew up in the city and has returned to raise her family here. She and other citizens addressed the Hawkins City Council Meeting on Monday, August 21, 2017, regarding theft, drugs, and vandalism in Hawkins. With an overflowing attendance at the meeting, Mayor Coquat stated that things need to be reviewed and addressed, such as rotating the officers so “thieves” do not know when the officers are on patrol, as well as the fact that police need to investigate every theft.

Council member Debbie Rushing stated that the council needs to start the conversation now.  She confronted Police Chief Ron Voda about what has been done regarding crime in the city, and Mr. Voda stated that they had made some great cases and that last night (Sunday, August 20), his officer was at the scene of a burglary within 4 minutes.  He also stated that their job is re-active – after a crime has been committed, and that there are two officers on duty during the day.

Council member Rushing stated she had a problem with the police parking in the back of the station because the public needs to know that the police department is accessible because there have been problems with the department for a long time. Rushing stated, “Someone goes to the back door – no answer; then they go to the front door – no answer.”  Various attending citizens spoke about their concern that many reports had made to the police, and some had taken pictures and given evidence to the police, but not heard any updates or follow up investigations.

Council member Norma Oglesby stated that she understood the police could not be everywhere when crime is committed.

Debbie Rushing stated she would like to hear what Wood County Sheriff tom Castloo had to say about the situation.

Sheriff Castloo stated that the Wood County Sheriff’s Office is available to help the City of Hawkins at all times, but he is “spread thin.” He mentioned that maybe a citizen crime watch group would be helpful.

Resident Wende Haney requested that Mayor Coquat place the item back on the agenda to see if the council has made any progress with the crime situation. Council member Debbie Rushing volunteered to head a crime watch group in the City of Hawkins.

In other business, the city council gave Mayor Coquat approval to resolve the issue of excessive medical dispatches for the City of Hawkins Fire Department.  The mayor informed the council that currently, there are no fire fighters certified to be First Responders, and further stated that he did not feel that the department should be called out every time that EMS is called.  Council member Wayne Kirkpatrick made the motion to approve Mayor Coquat correcting the excessive medical dispatches for fire department assistance; seconded by Norma Oglesby – motion passed unanimously.

A motion to table the approval of an ordinance requiring all houses be numbered with their correct 911 address was made by Councilman Wayne Kirkpatrick.  Mayor Coquat stated that the city does not have the correct numbers. Police officer Scott Randell stated that he had the correct 911 map from East Texas Council of Governments, but there were errors on the map.  Council member Norma Oglesby stated that each citizen should be responsible for getting their address. Member Debbie Rushing stated that if the city was going to require the correct 911 address, then she felt the city the city should have the information available.  Council member Kirkpatrick stated the number should be available at Hawkins City Hall. Next he made the motion to table the ordinance for 911 addressing until the city can find out more; seconded by Norma Oglesby – passed unanimously.

There was little discussion from the council regarding the approval of a waiver policy for HUD Code Manufactured Homes.  Councilman Kirkpatrick stated that he had amended the waiver removing the wording “safe” and “which satisfies City of Hawkins Code”.  Norma Oglesby made the motion to approve the City of Hawkins 151.73 Waiver Policy, which outlines the condition for getting a waiver approved to move a HUD Code Manufactured Home onto a lot in the City of Hawkins, which is not in a HUD Code Manufactured Home Park or designated area for HUD Code Manufactured Homes. The motion was seconded by Sherry Davis – passed unanimously.

Mayor Coquat began the discussion of setting the tax rate for 2017.  The mayor stated that the new rate was $0.7754 on each $100.00 valuation of property, which is about three cents lower than last year.  The mayor explained that the city has a slight increase in taxable value because of mineral interest.  Councilman Wayne Kirkpatrick made the motion to approve the ordinance setting the fiscal year 2017 tax rate at $.07754 per $100.00 value; seconded by Norma Oglesby. Norma Oglesby, Debbie Rushing, Sherry Davis, and Wayne Kirkpatrick voted to approve the ordinance setting the rate.

Norma Oglesby made the motion to approve the ordinance adopting the fiscal year 2017-2018 budget; seconded by Wayne Kirkpatrick – motion passed unanimously.

The council considered the Interlocal contract with East Texas Council of Governments for the City 911 Database Maintenance.  Normal Oglesby made the motion to approve the Interlocal contract; seconded by Sherry Davis-motion passed unanimously.  Another item from the East Texas council of Governments was a resolution authorizing the creation of the Piney Woods 911 District.  Norma Oglesby stated that she wanted to know what other entities had approved the district before the council made a decision.  Norma Oglesby made a motion to table the resolution for more information; seconded by Wayne Kirkpatrick- motion passed unanimously.

Approval of a policy for only certified persons or shops to perform repairs and maintenance on fire department units and yearly certifications, as per manufactures specs, was considered by the Hawkins council.  Norma Oglesby stated that there should only be certified persons and shops working on the equipment because the city could be held liable.  Ms. Oglesby further stated that the certifications should be on file with Hawkins City Hall because they would be the first place any contact would be made for open records. The motion to approve the policy was made by Norma Oglesby; seconded by Sherry Davis – unanimously passed.

Paramedic Donnie Reynolds, Regional Manager for Champion EMS, gave a report to the council regarding their grand re-opening of the triage at the EMS connected to the Hawkins Fire Station.  Mr. Reynolds stated that they have been serving Hawkins since the late nineties, and that EMS will be at all football games.  An invitation was extended to all to come to the EMS Open House at the Hawkins Fire Station on August 31, 2017, beginning at 11:00 a.m. Debbie Rushing thanked EMS for all they have done for the City of Hawkins.

Council member Normal Oglesby made the motion to approve the departmental reports; seconded by Sherry Davis – motion passed unanimously.

A motion to approve the minutes of the July 17, 2017, July 24, 2017, and August 7, 2017, meetings was made by council member Sherry Davis; seconded by Norma Oglesby – passed unanimously.

Members present:  Norma Oglesby, Debbie Rushing, Sherry Davis, and Wayne Kirkpatrick.

Clara Kay was not present for the meeting.  The department heads present were:  Norma Hallmark, Stephen Holmes, Cindy Douthitt, Dona Jordan, Ron Voda, and Scott Randell.  Mayor Howard Coquat gave the invocation.

A motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Wayne Kirkpatrick; seconded by Norma Oglesby – passed unanimously.