The regular meeting of the governing body of Blanco on June 10 was opened with the Pledge of Allegiance, following the precedent set recently by Blanco County Commissioners. Newly re-elected council members Bobby McClung, Martin Sauceda, and Al Turner were sworn in by Mayor Chuck Homan.
In the Public Comments section of the meeting, resident Wayne Gosnell reminded council members of the ongoing public education campaign to keep the night skies free of light pollution, citing the recent recognition of Dripping Springs as an International Dark Sky City, one of only six in the nation and the only one in Texas. He presented council members with two tickets to attend a one-day conference called “Better Lights for Better Nights” to be held August 15 in Dripping Springs. The educational event, co-sponsored by the City of Dripping Springs and the International Dark Sky Association, will include presentations by professionals, exhibitors, and educators. Registration can be done online at www.TexasNightSkyFestival.org.
Mayor Homan commented on the upcoming Lavender Fest June 13-15, with hopes that everyone would stay safe during the festival. He also thanked Public Works Director Nathan Cantrell and his staff for planting bushes and shrubs adjacent to the post office, with the cooperation of postmaster Tina Kmetz. He welcomed other Blanco merchants to do similar projects.
Blanco Youth Soccer Association Treasurer Thaddeus Millard presented a request to council for use of the city-owned field next to the police department on Blanco Avenue as a practice field. Following assurances from Millard that there would be no parking issues and that he would mow the field a little shorter than the city does, council unanimously approved the request. “We just want to make it nice for the neighborhood kids,” said Millard.
Blanco Historic Preservation Commission chair Retta Martin reported that a Certificate of Appropriateness has been issued to the Blanco National Bank for some renovations to the facades of their buildings on the north side of the square. The wooden building will be restored to its original appearance, including windows with transoms, according to Martin. She also pointed out an oversight by council in the approval process of the Streetscape conceptual plan. Although council members voted to approve the plan, the approval was not recorded in council meeting minutes. Mayor Homan suggested that Martin and city secretary Kristi Walker get together to put the correct wording into amended minutes for that date since Historic Preservation Officer Becky Greathouse needs written approval to proceed with Streetscape projects.
A discussion concerning purchasing radios for communication between City Hall and the police department was tabled until more information on the best type of radio could be presented to the mayor. He complained that city hall personnel cannot communicate with the police department with their current radio.
A request by the public works department to allow Alexander Construction Company to remove dirt from the 110-acre parcel recently acquired by the city for irrigation purposes was also tabled when council member McClung expressed reservations about the aesthetic results of digging dirt out of the site. “Is it going to be a 50-foot ditch?” he asked. “We don’t want to be building an eyesore.” The mayor suggested that Cantrell and McClung drive out to the site and look it over. The dirt would be sold to the construction company at $20 per load, but could also be used for road projects by the city. The delay would give City Attorney Eddy Rogers time to write up a contract with the construction company.
There was no report from the fire department, as their meeting had not taken place until Thursday, June 12.
Police Chief Mike Ritchey thanked the city and the taxpayers for the paving of the police department parking lot, which he said has improved the work environment of officers as well as improving drainage from the parking lot. He also addressed the issue of engine-braking, which was discussed at the May meeting, saying he has not been able to find an ordinance in other localities which specifically addresses that noise and pointed out the difficulty of enforcing it. Council members were provided a copy of the current noise ordinance, and Eddy Rogers said a sentence could be added to it to include engine-braking as a violation. Chief Ritchey said he is not in favor of an elaborate ordinance, favoring a “complaint-driven” system whereby officers respond to individual complaints.
Ritchey presented his monthly statistics to council, saying “I’m not disappointed in them.” The issue of dog complaints was discussed, since dogs running at large and biting people continues to be a problem. Ritchey also made a request to replace two police vehicles, which he said “are in bad shape” and have cost $9700 in repairs over the past six months. He expressed a preference for a Tahoe vehicle, which would cost $23K without special equipment, since equipment could be transferred from the older vehicles, which he said are not worth $1500. “I just need direction from city council,” he concluded. Council members Danny Ray and Al Turner suggested he start looking for something, and Ritchey responded that he would look for money in his budget. Mayor Homan suggested that there might be money available at budget time, “if we get lucky.”
Nathan Cantrell also requested purchase of a new utility truck from the Houston-Galveston Area Co-op, stating that he has money in the street department budget to buy one. He was also instructed by council members to go out and see what he could find and bring back a report.
The meeting was adjourned after Executive Session, with no action taken on items discussed.