The Durant City Council met Tuesday evening for August.
Many controversial items were on the agenda, with a few surprises thrown in.
Before the meeting, an executive session was held for the council to discuss in private, the possible purchase of real estate by the city of Durant.
Imagine Durant, under the leadership of Kara Byrd, gave a presentation and thank you to the council with special guests Durant Public Schools Superintendent Duane Merideth, Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton and Southeastern Oklahoma State University President Sean Burrage.
Each spoke on behalf of Imagine Durant and Durant and its amenities, progress and people.
The meeting began with consent items being approved in bulk.
If a Council member wants to “pull” a consent item, it is removed from the bulk approval and is talked about and voted on.
Items that were automatically approved were: A special event permit application for Durant High School Homecoming parade on October 3, 2017. A special event permit from the Choctaw Nation Trail of Tears Bike Team for the 2nd Annual Youth Bike Ride to be held September 23, 2017. A special event permit from the Woodmen Life for First Responders Benefit-Hotdogs for Heroes to be held August 17, 2017., and a request for authorization to purchase monthly service fees for DigiTicket in the amount of $26,4000 annually.
They approved the purchase of six hand-held radios for the police in the amount of $17,388.60.
They authorized a request to purchase housing for municipal prisoners in the Bryan County Jail in the amount of $80,000. They approved a school resources officer contract between the Durant Police Department and DISD.
They approved a contract for network fleet by Verizon to provide GPS for the Durant Police units at state contract pricing.
They approved a Ricoh contract for equipment, service and supplies for $2,398. The council approved councilman Destry Hawthorne to serve on the Cemetery Advisory Board. They approved the request for authorization to purchase legal services and municipal forms subscriptions to be used by Tom Marcum, who is the city attorney.
City Manager Tim Rundel elaborated in a statement: “The subscription part of his contract is expected to be around $350. The rest of the $60,000 on this item is the total amount of his contract with the City. It is estimated contractual services since he is not a city employee.”
Items that were pulled from consent items and talked about, then approved were: A contract with Caliber for Geographical Information services 911 addressing and mapping in the amount of $30,000.
The council approved the authorization to apply for the FY 2018 Emergency Management Performance Grant.
They approved a resolution to support Imagine Durant.
The council approved a tort claim for car damages when the wind blew a Dumpster into a man’s car, Zachary Armstrong. The city decided to go against OMAG’s advice not to pay the claim. It was talked about that it was an ‘act of God” that caused the damage, but it was said that the claim was “only $1,250.80” so it was voted to pay the claim.
City Hall is in need of repair. It was approved to spend over $100,000 on those repairs. It was explained that the repairs are necessary and if they are not made, the insurance provider will not pay future claims on the building. That bid also included resurfacing parts of the building where chunks of debris are falling off the building. It was explained that if it continues, it will eventually breach the inside walls with even more damage expected.
It was debated to award the financing of $2,00,000 for a 2017 Heavy Duty C-2 Rescue Pumper for the fire department. That motion passed.
A motion was tabled to authorize purchase of a Ford F350 Flat Bed Truck from proceeds of a city auction. The council approved a license agreement with the Nancy Leiberman Charities and World Ventures Foundation to provide a new outdoor basketball “Dream Court” and Hoops system to be installed at Carl Albert Park. Becca Collins, Grant Director, said this could come as early as March 2018. It was explained that this is a prestigious opportunity and the concrete pad would not come from city money. The council was to consider the approval of a lease agreement between KVFI Enterprises LLC. It was for the little approximately 300 square foot building at Market Square. A family wanted to fix up the property and operate a business there. Several asked why it was not put out for bid or advertised and why that family was the only one that was offered this deal. That motion was tabled. Surplus property off Roadrunner Lane in Durant was declared excess. The holiday schedule produced a firestorm of remarks from council members. It was recommended that extra days be given to City Hall employees which would result in a shutdown of services except for “on call” situations. There was concern that the closing of the city for that long would not serve the citizens. That was approved. Councilman Oden Grube said she didn’t see that’s what the citizens would want.
Then a copied and pasted code of ethics was proposed for approval for the city. It was learned it was from a suburb of San Francisco. Grube argued that we needed a code of ethics but we already had one. Why did we need something from California? She said ‘it was silly” to approve that. The council voted her down on that as they did nearly everything she disagreed with. She stated she had listened to citizens and was trying her best to do their will. She said she took an oath “under God” and she would uphold that, and that a code of ethics book, proposed out of the blue, was not needed. She wondered where this came from. She also said, that the council listens to the people and that the “hired help” shouldn’t be trying to enter things like that. She was voted down again and it was approved.
Since the meeting was so long, Mayor Jerry Tomlinson allowed department heads to go home instead of giving monthly reports. This has happened before at long meetings.
When it came time for citizen comments, Shane Walker’s wife spoke to the council. She told the council she was disappointed in them for their actions handling police hiring procedures. She said the police are understaffed and in an emotional plea, she said that hiring animal control or sanitation workers during a hiring freeze, instead of police officers, is not in the best interests of the city.
Contact Dan Pennington at (580) 634-2162 or firstname.lastname@example.org