City council denies Waco Street easement request

The Italy City Council denied a request by Keith Helms and Jessie Tovar regarding the closing of a 30-foot street easement between 505 and 501 Waco Street and 145 Derrs Chapel Road at its monthly meeting held Monday evening.
Helms, whose family owns property that abuts the easement, requested the city council allow him to purchase and close the easement.
Tovar’s family owns property that adjoins the easement. Tovar said his family has been paying taxes on the easement for an untold number of years. He said his father purchased the property in 1951 and said he offered documents proving his family paid taxes for more than 10 years. His request was for a quick claims deed.
Following a brief executive session with the city attorney, the council reconvened into open session and denied both requests noting that water and sewer lines run down that easement.
Mayor Frank Jackson said Tovar needed to take up the issue about paying taxes with the county appraisal district. Tovar said he would file a claim with the county and with the city.
In other business, the council approved the installation of new water lines and two new meters at the Saldena Properties (Shell station). The facility is currently receiving water from South Ellis County Water. It is, however, on the edge of where the two water districts meet.
Adams said this request is for emergency situations.
Brad Chambers, water superintendent, said this request could create problems down the road with other businesses requesting additional water meters.
Rodney Guthrie, council members, said he did not see a problem as long as Saldena Properties paid for the water meters and for any water used.
Mark Souder made a motion to approve the request pending the approval of a signed contract. It passed unanimously.
The council also approved a request for the Italy Cemetery Association a street easement from SH 77 to Cohagan Park in the city cemetery. Final approval must come from the Texas Department of Transportation.
John Droll, council member, questioned why the association did not use the railroad right of way off Simms Street. The question went unanswered since there were no representatives from the cemetery association at the meeting. He and the remaining council members ultimately voted unanimously to approve the request.
Members agreed to an interlocal agreement with Ellis County regarding on-site septic facility inspections. Teri Murdock, city secretary/administrator, said the city does not have a licensed inspection officer to do septic inspections within the city limits. The inspections, required annually, are the responsibility of the property owners. Although not many, she said there are still homes within the city limits that still use a septic system.
The council passed an ordinance scheduling the general election for the city council on May 8. They approved Ann Byers as election judge. Three council members are up for two-year term elections. Early voting is scheduled from April 26 thru May 4 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. in city hall council chambers.
Carl Jaynes was not on hand to discuss trespassing and trash from the trailer park although he had requested to be on the agenda. Murdock said the code enforcement officer has met with Jaynes to discuss his concerns.
During department reports, police chief C.V. Johns reported 135 calls to service in January. The department made 15 arrests and worked/trained 1,173 hours during the month.
The animal control officer worked 5.5 hours and attended 40 hours of training. The officer received five calls to service issuing three citations and two warnings. He captured two dogs in January.
The warrant officer received 40 hours of training, made six contacts and worked three hours in January.
The code enforcement officer received two complaints in January, taking action on both items. The officer investigated 14 other problem areas and issued warnings on all.
The fire department worked 24 calls in January, working a total of 71.98 hours.
The municipal court received 318 citations issued by the police department. Currently 265 warrants are pending. The department cleared 13 in January.
Chambers said there have been problems with the water wells, noting the one behind city hall went down. Fortunately, he said it was still under warranty and is back up and running.
Murdock said she attended an election law seminar in January and passed the course.
She said the city planned joint elections with the school district in May. Packets are available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through March 8 for anyone interested in running for the city council.
She told members that she met with Ellis County Commissioner Heath Sims regarding three areas that need road repair.
She said the city should be able to hold construction costs on a new concession stand and restrooms at Upchurch Field within the $25,000 projected allotment.
Murdock said the latest update from John Kiser of TxDOT on the Couch Street Bridge has completion date set in early May.
During council member comments, Souder said he was concerned with the bridge construction issue. The original completion date had originally been set at Feb. 4. Now, he said it is the end of April.
Chambers explained that there had been a problem with the contractor and a prefabricated culvert. Apparently, the company making the culvert was not a TxDOT approved facility. He said it took time to get that issue resolved.
Souder, who is also in the construction business, said when you have a scheduled end date, you work weekends, 12-hour days, whatever it takes to get the job done. He said somebody needs to take blame for the delay whether it is TxDOT or the general contractor. He said the city should take action regarding this matter.
The council also approved minutes from the previous meeting, monthly bills and earned compensatory time.