By BEN GRAFTON
Mayor Mickey Marse opened the Dec. 9 meeting of the Freeport City Council by swearing-in Mark Martin to fill the council seat vacated by the death of longtime Council member Mike Helton. This action brings the Council back to its full five members.
Following the swearing-in, City Attorney Clayton Adkinson presented the second reading of the annexation ordinance bringing the King property on SR-20 West into the city. The Council approved the annexation.
Fire Chief Ben Greenslait reported to the Council that the fire department answered 58 calls in November, exceeding by six the number of calls answered in November 2007.
Greenslait also reported that the fire hydrant maintenance and painting program was moving ahead. Some valves found underground have been excavated, and some broken valves have been repaired.
Parks Director Shane Supple reported that with the advent of colder weather, the park groundskeepers have gone to a reduced winter schedule. Supple said that the batting cages are damaged and require repair before they can be returned to operation. Replacement parts have been ordered.
Supple also said that six teams played a round-robin softball tournament in November; that planning for the 5K/10K race is going ahead; that the possibility of a soccer camp is under review; and a cost study is being prepared to show the impact of installing additional electric meters for different park facilities.
City Engineer Charles Peters reported that the contract to install water well No. 7, east of Freeport, has been signed. Work on this well will start the first week of January. Peters said that the Florida League of Cities and the National League of Cities are working on a proposal for an economic stimulus plan to present to Congress. The city has plenty of projects that can be submitted under this proposal. The identification of each project, its cost, benefits that would result and the number of jobs that would be created are required in the submittal. Many of the details of this proposal are unknown at this time.
Marse said that the paving of Joe Campbell Road is complete. Installing sod on the road’s shoulders is underway, and the work looks good.
The Council reviewed the request made by Gene Wesley at the Nov. 13 Council meeting for relief of the $7 monthly fee for each of the three water meters installed on his property. The meters were a precondition for sewer service. Relief was requested since the service has yet to reach his property. Marse said that there were a number of others in the service area who had opted for water meter installation as a condition for tying-in to sewer service when it is available. After discussion, the Council rejected the request.
Marse reported that quotes for grubbing the roots and stumps out of the practice ball fields and moving dirt to bring the fields up to grade have been received. The prices include neither the cost of clay, which will be supplied by Walton County, nor the cost of sod, which will be handled by the city. The Council approved the low bid of $15,000 submitted by Vernon Paving. Work was scheduled to start the following morning, weather permitting.
Since there will not be another Council meeting in December, the Council approved a request by City Clerk Robin Haynes to move Park Manager Shane Supple from temporary to full-time employee status as of Jan. 1.
The Council approved a request by Councilman Charlie Simmons to have a cost estimate prepared for the addition of a “safe room” to the fire station to shelter firemen and emergency medical technicians during hurricanes and other emergency conditions.