Council hears complaints about high water, motorcycles

The Italy City Council had a packed agenda Monday evening at its final regular meeting of the budget year. Prior to agenda items, the council heard two complaints from citizens.

Bryant Cockran addressed the council regarding the amount of water that surrounded Mt. Gilead Baptist Church. Cockran said church members addressed the council last year and the year before. He said it would require a trench cut along the acreage that runs behind the church.

Brad Chambers, public works director, said Josh Trees will cut the ditch after approval is received from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). He said TxDOT has not approved the trench because the ditch along SH 77 will not carry the water.

Mayor Frank Jackson said the city received 13 inches of rain and until TxDOT cleans the ditch along SH 77, a drainage ditch behind the church cannot be cut.

Another complaint came from Mr. and Mrs. Ken Clark and their neighbors who live in the Hyles Addition.

Clark said he has suffered three heart attacks and moved to Italy to find a quiet place to live. “This is exactly what we wanted,” he said.

But, the motorcycles are running six feet from his window in vacant lots owned by Ronnie Hyles.

Clark said he has requested Hyles put up “no trespassing” signs in the vacant lots but it has not been done. Clark said police officers have been called in regarding the nuisance ordinance but said the officers refused to stop the cyclists. Clark said they contacted the families of the riders to no avail.

The Clarks said they have put their house up for sale because of the loud noise from these cyclists. He said one woman had to put up a fence because the cyclists were running through her property.

Police Chief C.V. Johns said he has instructed all officers to issue citations for riders violating the nuisance ordinance. He explained that the nuisance ordinance is any loud noise that is offensive to residents.

Jackson told Clark and his neighbors that the city is working on the problem and they should see changes.

In other business, the council approved the city’s 2009-2010 budgets following a public hearing. Total revenue and expenditures for the general fund is $1,309,243, revenue and expenditures for the water/sewer department is $951,952.

The tax rate is $0.934800 per $100 assessed valuation—$.4285 for maintenance and operation and $.5063 for interest and sinking.

The council approved an ordinance setting hours of operation at the George Scott Memorial Park and Upchurch Field from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Teri Murdock, city administrator, secretary, said the contacted Jimmie Malone, superintendent who approved the hours of operation on behalf of the school.

The group adopted a one-year agreement between the council and the Italy Economic Development Committee. The EDC will pay the city $800 per month beginning Oct. 1.

Jackson was appointed, by resolution, to execute an administrative services agreement for the provision of city services and personnel for the EDC.

The council appointed Karen Mathiowetz to replace a vacancy on the EDC upon recommendation from the committee.

The council approved an ordinance regulating alcoholic beverages in the city and prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages near public school, private schools, churches or hospitals, day-care centers and child-care facilities.

Italy residents will vote in November whether to sell beer and wine in the city limits.

Should it pass, the ordinance will be in place prohibiting the sale near schools, churches, hospitals and day-care facilities.

The council approved an interlocal agreement with Ellis County and a resolution regarding the 2010-2011 board of directors for the Ellis Appraisal District.

Department heads delivered monthly reports.

Johns said the police department received 76 calls to service in August. Officers worked 1049 hours and reserve officers worked 161 hours.

Animal control received six calls and issued one citation and three warnings.

Code enforcement received three complaints and issued a warning on one. Lt. Thomas Peyton discovered seven violations and issued seven verbal warnings.

Chambers, public works director, said the Clark Street well is down. He said a repairperson would not be in Italy until Wednesday. He said it could be the pump, the motor or both.

The fire department received 21 calls to service in August.

The court clerk reported 492 citations issued by the police department last month. About 333 warrants have been filed and/or pending and cleared seven warrants in August.

Prior to adjournment, Jackson said the park board would host a Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 5.