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Gentry reports of CEIDC activities

By Alton Porter
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In a relatively short report on Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corp. (CEIDC) activities in 2017, focusing largely on the last two months, Executive Director James Gentry told Crockett City Councilmembers the corporation "had a favorable result" in its sales tax allocation during the year.

Gentry said the corporation's portion of the city's sales tax revenue totaled more than $540,000 during the 12-month period.

"Of course, as you understand, that has debt associated with some of the monies that we acquire, in terms of the loans that we have outstanding right now with properties that we invested in, including Angelina College and the monies that we allotted to assist in the maintaining of the (Crockett) State School over the last several years."

Gentry added, "Along with that, small business interest continues to prop its head in our community. As I mentioned at the last meeting, we've been working with the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) out of Lufkin."

He said he is engaged in referring potential small business owners to resources to help them develop ideas, putting business plans together and in other areas of small business development.

In addition to looking at and trying to attract "large, big bang companies" to the city, "we want to encourage small business interest in our community," he said.

Gentry noted, CEIDC officials attended several activities in November and December to partner with the Texas Forest Country Partnership, an organization he serves as a board member.

One of the things the partnership encourages among its members is promoting their communities as potential sites where movie scenes can be filmed. Crockett and surrounding Houston County should be placed on the list and promoted as viable film areas whereby they might be considered as locations where such movie scenes can be shot, the CEIDC executive director said.

He noted he and members of the CEIDC board attended an economic development summit sponsored and hosted by the partnership Nov. 8 in Lufkin, at which Crockett's Bella, Gifts from the Heart gift, novelty and souvenir store, owned by Jeanette Masters, was recognized as the partnership's 2017 Houston County Small Business of the Year.

Gentry said CEIDC officials continue to meet with people who have interests in opening businesses in Crockett. He said he plans to bring two of the "business interests" to the CEIDC board members for review and possible action at their next meeting in the Crockett Civic Center today, Thursday, Jan. 11, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.

Gentry concluded, "We're looking forward to a progressive year this year. And hopefully, some opportunities that will come about will make a difference in our community."

In other business at the meeting, the councilmembers:
• Heard comments from Monica Pierre, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development area director, who briefly updated them on the city's $3.327 million USDA loan which will be used to make improvements to its water storage system and announced a Housing Fair and Seminar, presented by USDA and hosted by Crockett Housing Authority (CHA), to present information on affordable homeownership for low-income and very low-income residents will be held in the Community Room of CHA's New Site apartment complex, 159 George Briggs, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 5:30-7 p.m.;
• Unanimously voted to pass a motion made by Precinct 3 Councilmember Ernest Jackson—seconded by Precinct 4 Councilmember Rita Rodriguez—approving a resolution allowing city personnel to finance up to $210,000 through Branch Banking and Trust at an interest rate not to exceed 3.14 percent for the purchase of fire-fighting equipment during a term that shall not exceed five years from closing;
• Passed on a three-to-two vote (a motion made by Precinct 1 Commissioner Butch Calvert—seconded by Rodriguez—approving an ordinance that amends the rates section of the city's garbage and trash code, in light of a 3.2 percent rate increase being made by this year by Waste Connections, the city's garbage collection company; and
• Passed on a unanimous vote a motion made by Precinct 5 Councilmember Mike Marsh—seconded by Calvert—adopting a resolution and agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation for closure of state highways around the one-way square in downtown Crockett for the purpose of running the Davy Crockett Classic bike races in the city Saturday, Feb 10, from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.