New age comes to Planning and Zoning panel

Posted 1/14/20

Madisonville City Council members Monday appointed 25-year-old Melissa Hinojosa, a student at Sam Houston State University, to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, breathing youth into the panel that oversees property use.

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New age comes to Planning and Zoning panel

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Madisonville City Council members Monday appointed 25-year-old Melissa Hinojosa, a student at Sam Houston State University, to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, breathing youth into the panel that oversees property use.

Hinojosa will replace outgoing member Auburn Rose on the commission.

“I applaud you for your civic pride and getting involved,” Mayor Pro Tem Russell Bailey told Hinojosa at the regular council meeting Monday. “That seems to be going out of style.”

Bailey presided over Monday’s council meeting due to a rare absence of Mayor Bill Parten, out on personal business.

The quickly moving meeting included approval for the purchase of an excavator to help the Public Works Department to better utilize crews in battling water leaks in the city’s lines. Kevin Story, director of Public Works, told council members that the added machinery would allow him to split crews to work on multiple sites at once.

There are currently four or five leaks in the city’s system, mainly due to the age of the underground pipes, he said.

Story also related to council members that cantankerous Water Well No. 3, troubling the city since early 2019 with tripping breakers, still has issues.

“We’ve replaced everything we needed to replace,” Story said. “It’s all Entergy now.”

Earlier attempts to repair the well’s power fell short because Entergy didn’t increase the size of the transformer at the site, he said. City workers have restarted recorders to monitor the system and provide evidence to the energy provider of faulty service.

“We need to show them we’re still not getting clean electricity,” said City Manager Camilla Viator.

Viator also informed council members that the Texas Department of Transportation is about to launch two new road projects in town, including a restriping of the recently transformed State Highway 75 to designate shoulders as turning lanes. TxDOT also plans to widen the bridge on State Highway 21 as it crosses Interstate 45.

Crews were supposed to begin the widening of the bridge Monday, but inclement weather has caused delays. Plans for the project, part of a larger $4 million improvement plan, include adding a new eastbound driving lane, westbound turn lanes and sidewalks that meet ADA standards.

The widening should be completed by August, Viator said.

Also in Monday’s meeting, Council members approved a new maternity leave policy for city workers that adopts the standards of the Family and Medical Leave Act. After a year of employment, city employees are now eligible for up to 12 weeks over the course of a year due to the birth or adoption of a child.

Council members also approved a $37,000 upgrade to the Watchguard camera system for police cars. City police already used an aging version of the system, which now integrates both patrol car cameras and body cameras.

Members of the police department are installing the upgrade themselves.

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