Crockett City Council Approves Investments in Police and Fire Departments
By Greg Ritchie
CROCKETT – The Crockett City Council met for a regular stated meeting Monday, Jan. 23. The council approved more projects on their ‘wish list’ for the city and approved some new projects recommended by the planning and zoning committee.
Councilman Darrell Jones requested the complete audit report of Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation (CEIDC) be included in the minutes of the previous meeting. Readers will remember CEIDC operations were suspended at that time and an investigation by Crockett Police Department (CPD) was begun. The council agreed to include the more than 80 pages in the executive summary but not the more than 8,000 pages included in the full report including exhibits and attachments.
CPD Chief Clayton Smith presented his report for the month of December 2022 saying CPD maintained its manpower numbers of 14 officers putting in 2,437 man-hours during that month. CPD was called out 484 times making 34 arrests – most for assault or possession of controlled substances.
Smith told the council CPD needs to begin to purchase new patrol units for the department. The two newest CPD units are already three years old with over 60 thousand miles on them. Two units are have more than 80 thousand miles logged with one unit now eight years old and more than 100 thousand miles. Smith said some of these units have spent more than six months in and out of a mechanic shop and it affects the officers schedules and patrols. Smith told the council it would be better to begin to replace the oldest units a little at a time instead of waiting until multiple vehicles fail and the city faces a bill to replace most of the fleet at once.
Crockett Fire Department (CFD) Chief Jason Frizzell told the council his department had been called out 28 times in December, with 17 of those calls in other parts of the county. Frizzell was asked about CFD items on the council “wish list” and explained the heating in the CFD building is over 50 years old. Frizzell worried his firefighters might not be able to keep water for freezing on colder days which would hamper their efforts to respond quickly to fires. He also explained the concrete floor is beginning to fail since it was not built to accommodate the heavier, newer fire engines and other equipment.
There was a brief public hearing on a request by Case Craycroft to renovate the old Masonic Hall in the Crockett square for business and commercial purposes on the ground floor and apartments on the upper floors. City Administrator John Angerstein showed the council the application submitted to the city’s planning and zoning committee which approved the plan provided the first floor would be used exclusively as a for-profit enterprise.
Councilman Gene Caldwell questioned the parking situation for future tenants in the building, warning even three or four new apartments might require a number of dedicated parking places on an already busy downtown square. It was noted the apartments were intended as short-term rentals, meaning the renters would be in town for shopping and supporting local businesses. The council approved the permit for the new use of the building.
Elbert Johnson’s petition to the planning and zoning committee was heard next. The application requested a specific use permit for a private all sports and night lounge to be located on South Fourth Street. One person came from Houston to speak on Mr. Johnson’s behalf saying he is an entrepreneur who does a lot of charity work and will pay his taxes. The planning and zoning committee has also recommended this plan provided the establishment made arrangements with neighboring businesses to accommodate overflow parking. This was also approved.
The council still has funds available for use under the American Rescue Plan Act. (ARPA) In an earlier council meeting, Angerstein had asked the council to narrow the items on their “wish list” of how to use the approximately $900,000 not yet assigned to other projects.
The city began with about $1.5 million in total from the grant, with traffic enforcement tickets and printers for CPD, the establishment of an animal shelter, a motor grader purchased from Houston County and a water line on South 5th Street already approved.
Angerstein told the council he knew repairing the city’s sewage problems is a priority but said he thought he had alternate funding for that project and the ARPA money could be used for other city needs.
The council approved:
- Three new patrol units for the CPD ($64,000 each)
- $31,000 to pay for half of the CEIDC audit (CEIDC paying for the other half)
- $25,000 for a strategic planning study for growing and developing downtown
- $60,000 to replace roofing and gutters at city hall
- $14,500 to replace roofing at CEIDC (with CEIDC contributing another $25,000)
- $30,000 to sand blast and repaint the pavilion in front of the Crockett Civic Center
- $82,000 for IT Williams bathroom repairs and for a pavilion, tables and barbecue pit
Some items on the list were left pending such as “Welcome to Crockett” signs, creating a new parking zone downtown and creating a downtown visitors center pending further review and estimates for the proposed projects.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]