Police Chief position narrowed down to five candidates

A progress report on the Sweetwater Police Chief hiring process was given by City Manager Eddie Brown during the City Commission meeting on Tuesday morning, April 10, 2012 at City Hall.Brown noted that interviews took place, beginning with 31 applicants. The top 10 applicants were then sent to the Texas Police Chief Association, who was asked to assist by scoring and rating the applications received. Seven people were then selected by the group, with one potential hire being in-house. Since that time, one person stepped out of the process while another was removed, resulting in five people remaining.Brown noted that according to the Texas Civil Service Act, he--as city manager--picks the person, which is then ratified by the City Commission. He said that a special City Commission meeting would be necessary to ratify his appointment, which should take place before the end of the month.Outgoing police chief Jim Kelley was praised by the commission for his work in local law enforcement. Brown's update on the Police Chief hire was only a part of his monthly City Manager's Report during the meeting, as an update was also given on the SNAP building plan progress. In meeting with John Voller with Enprotec/Hibbs and Todd, plans for review will hopefully be ready to present at the May regular meeting. While the old facility was torn down, site assessment and planning has been taking place for the new project. The city is working along with SNAP leadership, and the temporary solution was noted as going well.In addition, Brown stated that the Sweetwater Firefighters Pension Board made a request to the City Commission to raise the city's contribution to their separate plan to 18%, a three percent increase. The statutory rate required is actually only 12%, but the request will be considered for the 2012-2013 budget. A budget workshop for the 2012-2013 budget has been scheduled for May 10, 2012 at the Water Treatment Plant on Hillsdale Road to start at 8 a.m. For the 28th year, the City of Sweetwater has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the GFOA (Government Finance Officers Association). Brown noted that the city earned their highest scores ever, and that the feat is a "remarkable" one for a city of this size. Carolyn Lawrence and the city finance staff were praised for their work.Furthermore, sales tax collections for March were $263,413--up 10% from last year. Expectations are for the numbers to be leveling off soon.Finally, Brown noted that he and Sweetwater Mayor Greg Wortham would be involved in the Texas Municipal League Region 6 meeting on Thursday, April 26, in Sonora as the two are currently officers. Anyone wanting to attend the meeting must RSVP with Kelli Ferguson.Several action items were also presented at the meeting. Approval was given adopting an ordinance that cancelled the May 12, 2012 general election. Thus, the unopposed candidates--Jim McKenzie, Precinct 2 Commissioner and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerod Peek--were elected to office and will be sworn in at the May meeting.The second and final reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 6 of the city's Code of Ordinances, which relates to keeping a wild or exotic wild animal, was approved. Previously, "exotic animals" meant that circuses were not allowed to come to town as proper licenses were needed for the animals.A resolution was also approved which authorized the submission of a contract amendment request for the Community Development Block Grant Fund contract between the city and the Texas Department of Agriculture, in regards to a sewer line on Neff Street. Voller noted that the amendment would allow for the relining of a portion under the railroad.Furthermore, approval was given for Enprotec/Hibbs and Todd to advertise for construction bids for the 2011 sewer improvement program through the Texas Community Development Block Grant Program. Voller also presented briefly on the issue, noting that the bids should be advertised and received immediately in that the program should extend the life of the sewer line.The commission also approved the SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) project with Cape and Son Feed Merchandisers. Ken Becker, the executive director of SEED, noted that they have been working with the company for at least four years toward expansion, in which this opportunity would allow for trains to load and unload equipment in a central area.Representatives with the company, Austin Rose and Geoff Haney, were at the meeting, and Haney spoke briefly on this new opportunity. The company plans to lease track and upgrade their equipment in order to handle the anticipated higher volume. SEED will also assist in helping to fund a track mobile.Additionally, approval was given to accept a petition for voluntary annexation within the city from the incoming Love's truck stop to be located at Interstate 20 and Hopkins Road. City staff will work toward preparing a service plan for the area and has tentatively set public hearing dates for June 12 and June 14, 2012.Commissioners also approved Mayor Wortham's proclamation of April 2012 as "Fair Housing Month". Wortham read the proclamation, citing that the month allows for people to recognize the success and goals of fair housing through collaborative efforts of awareness and support.The Sweetwater Nolan County Health Department was also recognized by the city commission for their continuous and tireless work to create a healthier community. The city supports the program from a financial perspective--among other assistance, and the recognition follows National Health Week which was observed April 2-8 of this year.Renewal of the Lake Sweetwater Bait Shop concession lease with Vivian Williams was approved as well. Williams was praised for her work at the shop by the city, and the lease is renewed annually.The quarterly investment for the quarter which ended on March 31, 2012 was read and approved. Approval was also given for the minutes from the March 13, 2012 meeting.The city commissioners also went into a closed, executive session for around 50 minutes during the meeting. Upon returning to regular session, approval was given to allow the city manager to negotiate oil and gas leases outside of the city limits.