After a moving invocation by Mayor Gramling, Council member, Scot Simco asked that recognition be given for the Altus Police Canine Officer that was electrocuted in the storm. Condolences to the Woods family who also lost their family dog in the accident. Chief Patterson said there will be recognition of the loss to the department and the Woods at a later date.
Catherine Coke, City Attorney announced the location of the City's future tree debris staging area as the former Yates farm. This is 1 mile north and 1 mile east of the north gate of Altus Air Force Base. This site was approved by the council but is not yet open due to soggy road conditions. An announcement will be made when debris may be collected there. Signs will also be posted indicating the site, which is exclusively for vegetative debris. The site will be free to city residents and contractors, which was approved by the council. The site will be monitored by the City.
Bob Stephenson, Director of Public Works will be applying for the various permits required for this site to be used as a staging area. The council approved this procedure. Stephenson asked that in the meantime, people continue to put their tree debris beside their curb, but not in the street. Larger sections should be cut into 4 foot lengths, if possible, to facilitate lifting the wood. Please keep limbs away from water meters, mail boxes, and utility poles.
According to Bob Stephenson, the debris resolution would overtax the City if they were forced to take care of it. Also City equipment would be worn out. The council asked that local contractors be considered first for debris abatement. Vendors and contractors should apply through Stephenson.
Joe Don Dunham, Financial Director, gave his financial report stating that the impact of the storm is just beginning. Due to the overtime payroll, he sees this cost of the storm, to the City as being $2 1/2 to $3 1/2 million. The revenue lost from not selling power for a week will be about $350,000. The loss of sales tax revenue is not available yet, but will certainly be down for the month of February. This will be a months' long process to get the financial side done, according to Dunham.
Lloyd Colston, Emergency Management Director for the City said this is "potentially the most expensive disaster he's worked on." He is coordinating with local, state and federal authorities. Certainly there will be public assistance, but not individual assistance from the federal or state government. People should call their homeowner's / renter's insurance companies for that assistance.
Dan Scott, Superintendent of the Electrical Department, was asked by Council member Peggy Risinger how many electrical crews are working. Many. He urged patience by customers and said "It's gonna take days, 10 or 11." Neighbors right next door may be on different lines. Scott said he has crews everywhere, but that his department had about 500 calls per day. "You don't have to call. When they get the primary lines up, then we'll need people to call if they don't have it (power). Be patient. We'll get to it."
Council member Rick Henry said "This has been less than 48 hours since the power turned back on. This is a baby." Scott said the meter readers have been helping by walking their routes and making lists where there is no power and clearing lines for the linemen. "We want to make good connections and not cause fires," Scott said. "If you see a fire, call it in."
Council member Sid Willis asked how people should find out if their power is on if they are out of town. "Call a neighbor," Scott said.
Immediately following the special meeting, at 6:45 p.m. the Municipal Trust Authority meeting began with all present except Council member Don Johnson who is out of town.
The consent agenda, minus a few items was approved. Those items were discussed and then also approved. The agenda included: approval of the minutes for the Jan. 19, approval of purchase orders (POs) for fiscal year (FY) 2009-2010 for the Enterprise fund at $406,577.98 and approving a claim from Boyton-Williams for $163,200 which is paid from a sales tax revenue note series 2009 for the Altus Independent School District.
The council approved the Chairman signing a change order for $34,520 to Fox & Drechsler for final payment for the landfill construction project.
Bob Stephenson gave a report on the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District (LAID) regarding payment on the LAID repair loan. The council approved taking 3 years to pay LAID for its fair share on the repair bills.
The trust meeting adjourned at 6:52 p.m. when the City Council meeting was held with all present except Don Johnson.
Comments from the audience included a statement from Junior Villareal who owns a tree service. He introduced Amy Fountain of Logistical Group from Orlando, FL, who has lots of experience dealing with FEMA on disasters. The council referred her and other vendors and contractors to Bob Stephenson.
The consent agenda for the meeting was approved. This agenda included: approval of the Jan. 19 minutes of both the special and regular City Council meetings. POs for the FY 2009-2010 included the General Fund for $59,616.62, Workers Comp fund for $2,402.67, Airport fund for $4,527.48, Hotel.Motel Tax fund $15,408.99, Street & Alley fund $8,073.31, Emergency 911 fund for $69.00, Cemetery Perpetual fund for $345.95
Feb. 5 payroll of $368,124.75, overtime for Feb. 5 of $21,416.06 and additional overtime of $8,523.27. This total payroll comes to $398,064.08. The council received reports from EDC Meeting minutes of Jan. 21, Southern Prairie Library System, and Public Works work order completions for Oct.-Dec. 2009.
The council awarded a contract to Rudy Construction for Phase IV of Navajoe Gateway partially based on Risinger's recommendation. This approval authorized Mayor Gramling to sign the contract.
The council approved sending the item regarding continuing the lease of the Women's Exhibit building and the Jackson County Fair and Stock Show building to the Boll Weevil Eradication Organization back to committee. If the committee recommends this lease, the council will ask for a legal opinion by Coke.
The council tabled matters regarding the agreement between the City and Ronald and Sheryl Willingham regarding the English Village Sixth Addition park. The agreement expedites dividing tract one with 1.2 acres going to the Willinghams, and 8.03 acres belonging to the City.
Due to lack of information, the council tabled the update on the Park Lane project.
In executive session, the council considered the pending lawsuit filed by Ralph and Margery Van Oostrum vs the City of Altus. This suit regards the 521 N. Grady property. When they came out of executive session, the council announced they had taken no action on this item.
In new business, Dan Scott expressed his thanks to his staff, to Holmes Willis and staff and the Parks Department for cleaning the tree debris. This helped his crews do their jobs.
The council approved Mayor T.L. Gramling's appointment of Diane McMahan to a permanent position as a committee member on the Cemetery Advisory Board.
City Administrator, Mike Nettles said: council members should RSVP to Linda Walker for the OMPA area meeting Feb. 18. He also wanted to follow up on Scott's comments. Nettles has been in many medical facilities due to a medical condition and said he has heard such compliments on all the City employees. People understand why they don't have power yet. Some areas of the country have gone without power for weeks. Dan's connections to Denton have been very helpful. (Dan added Stillwell and McPherson KS to the list of electrical crews. He also said Edmond linemen may come to help next.)
City Council members' comments:
Rick Henry: Henry spent days with Scott, answering phones and helping the electrical department. "Our city was broken, but the government and services were not, and they're still not...Just because you have your power on, it's not over. I'm not shaving until everybody has power." (This was met with a big round of applause.)
David Brown: asked if the power distribution is sporadic. Scott replied that major blocks are out. The old part of town has lots of trees, older wiring, and closed alleys. "But we got $100,000 worth of tree trimming done in one night," Scott said with a smile. Brown asked if things will be patched temporarily or brought up to code immediately. "We won't bandaid nothin'," Scott replied."Saving a nickel today got us into this mess."
Perry Shelton: said he's had the privilege to speak with several people. "We've got some good people in the City of Altus. I'd like to thank all of them who took the time to check on their neighbors."
Jack Smiley: said "Scott kidnapped me at 10 a.m. and didn't bring me back until 5:30 the next morning...Altus didn't surprise me. We came together again as a city, a community, a base. " Smiley commented on how supplies showed up for the shelter, just when they were needed and how Dan got the essentials up and running first. "Dan Scott doesn't treat people as special...This is Altus. We're going to get through this."
Scot Simco: "I want to thank everyone for their hard work. I know Jack and Rick have worked tirelessly. Keep safe, everyone."
Peggy Risinger: agreed with the other comments made. She's owned property here since 1957 and she's seen that Altus does come together. She's been on the council 11 years and she knows the people who call her are not making grievances, but are sharing genuine concerns. "This is amazing how people have worked in this disaster. Thanks to the employees and council for bearing with us while we get through this."
Rick Henry: asked if they could have information on back feeding electricity one more time.
Dan Scott replied that there was a near miss yesterday (Feb. 3). Someone had back fed into a line that was supposed to be dead on a pole behind the Catholic Church (Prince of Peace). "It could have been bad, but it was grounded." The electric department will take meters or generators if they find a person back feeding into the system."We took a meter yesterday (from someone back feeding)...Two linemen were killed in this storm within a 100 mile radius," Scott said. He's not taking any chances.
Mayor Gramling: said he supports Dan 110% about being careful. Lloyd Colston tells us every morning to follow safe procedures. We may have lost one elderly person from the cold here. The Mayor will verify that. "We've got a great city."
Adjourned at 7:50 p.m.