By Alton Porter, Courier Reporter
The directors of the Houston County water district have decided to help City of Crockett officials in their quest to upgrade the city's water storage system.
Members of the Houston County Water Control and Improvement District #1 (HCWCID#1) board voted unanimously at a meeting Wednesday, July 20, to pass a motion committing HCWCID#1 to match what the city spends up to a maximum of $200,000 to make improvements at the site of the College Hill ground water tank north of downtown.
The motion was made by Director Floyd Patton and seconded by Director Dr. Joe Holcomb. Aside from Patton and Holcomb, other board members present and voting for the motion were Vice President Mike Maiden and Director Dr. Don Knight. Board President Sonny Rollo was absent, and Maiden presided over the meeting in his absence. Russell Bond, manager of the HCWCID#1 plant, also was present.
Representing the City of Crockett at the meeting was Mayor Robert Meadows and Council Members Jeannie Julian (Precinct 1), Ray Bruner (Precinct 2), Ernest Jackson (Precinct 3), and Mike Marsh (Precinct 5). Precinct 4 Council Member Muriel Williams was absent. City Administrator Sean Hutchison, who also is Director of Public Works, also was present on behalf of the city.
City officials are seeking $1.1 million in grant funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and has applied for a loan from the Texas Water Development Board seeking funds to help pay most of the cost they anticipate it will take to repair its two water storage towers and two ground water storage tanks. City officials have also been invited to apply for a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program.
After a lengthy discussion on the matter and before the motion was made, Maiden asked, "Does anybody want to make a motion, or are we tabling this thing again?"
Responding to the question, Patton said, "We've discussed $200,000 and made a commitment to Crockett that we would do it eight years ago. So, I'm willing to stick with that."
Also speaking before the motion was made, Knight said, "That's kind of the number that we've kicked around. I don't think we've ever really sat down and finalized it...."
Patton added, "We can always change something, but we can make a motion now to contribute, or whatever, toward the purchase of a tank in the amount of $200,000. Or, we can wait."
"But, at least, it will give some assurance you're getting something from us I guess. Would it?" Patton added, directing his comment to Hutchison.
After the meeting, Maiden told the Courier how he felt about the decision to give the money to the city. "I feel good about helping the city," he said. "We've been partners since the idea of creating the lake (Houston County Lake) came about. So, we're all sharing the same money and trying to achieve the same objective which is a clean, plentiful water supply for Houston County.
"In a way, we wish we could do more, but we've got our own finances to consider. I think the city wanted something concrete, numerical tonight. That is the amount ($200,000) we've been talking about. If the grant (the city is seeking) were to materialize the way the (news)paper suggested it could, that would fix it. That ($200,000) would be half of their 30 percent. ... I think we're doing what we can do.
If the city is awarded the EDA grant, the city would be required to pay 30 percent of the cost of the planned water storage system repairs. EDA would pay the other 70 percent of the cost if the grant is approved.
"We've been in conversations with the city on this since 2006," Maiden said. "So, we knew this was an issue that needed to be resolved."
He said the funds HCWCID#1 is contributing to the city are to be used "for replacing the tank on College Hill."
Meadows also shared his thoughts on the decision of the HCWCID#1 board with the Courier after the meeting. "I believe it's a goodwill gesture," he said. "It's something that gives us some hope to move forward. We know we have a commitment from the water district that will be very beneficial. I wish I could tell you we have plans to get it going tomorrow morning, but we don't. It was a good meeting as far as I'm concerned, though."