Crockett City Council Deals with CEIDC Business

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT –  The Crockett city council met Monday, Mar. 6 for a regular meeting full of local citizens. The council had to deal with a number of issues stemming from CEIDC (Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation) after its recent suspension while an investigation continues. 

During the public comments section, residents asked the council to use federal funds for the good of the community and were asked about specific construction projects around the city. 

Precinct One Councilmember Gene Caldwell told the council he now lives in District Two and will be running for the council position in that district, against current incumbent Darryl Jones. Caldwell read the rules of fair campaign practices, noting character defamation and personal or family matters regarding candidates should not be part of a political race. After the meeting, The Messenger invited both men to our candidate forum and Jones refused to take part. (See related article about the upcoming elections in today’s newspaper.)

Crockett Police Chief Clayton Smith then presented the police report for the month of February, noting there were 502 calls, with 54 arrests and the Crockett Police Department (CPD) had 15 police on the job working 2,348 man-hours. 

Smith then presented the legally mandated CPD racial profiling report for 2022. Of the 1,354 people stopped, 347 were African-American males, 755 were Caucasian and 229 were Hispanic. 212 African-American women were stopped, along with 516 Caucasian women and 92 Hispanic women. 

A deeper dive into the numbers reveals the important percentages. Of the total number of people stopped by CPD during 2022:

  • 62% were male and 38% female
  • 26% were African-American, 58% Caucasian and 15% Hispanic

Chief Smith also warned of some risks to our community such as scam calls. He noted one resident was recently scammed out of $500 after a call came in appearing to come from her daughter’s phone. The resident was told her daughter was kidnapped and heard a woman screaming in the background. As it turns out, her daughter was fine, but Chief Smith told the council these calls often come from overseas and use spoofing apps that make them almost impossible to trace. 

Crockett Fire Department Chief Jason Frizzell reported 64 calls during January and February with 26 of those occurring in other parts of the county. Both Frizzell and Smith were to receive their yearly performance reviews during the executive session after the public portion of the meeting had ended. 

The council voted to approve bids for work on the city swimming pool. City administrator John Angerstein told the council he sought new bids to lower costs and keep local businesses in the process as much as possible. He told the council the city engineers still believe the pool should open by sometime this summer. The council approved decking for the pool and fence construction to Shoemake with Culpepper Electric winning the bid for lighting the facility. 

The Crockett Water Department has recently upgraded its billing system which will allow people to pay online or through text messages. Angerstein informed the council this upgrade had slowed down the billing for the month of March which might lead to customers receiving their bill later than usual. The council approved a motion to suspend late fees for water bills paid late this month. 

The council then turned to paying bills incurred by CEIDC, with some debate among the council members over which bills are still outstanding. One council member noted the city is still paying for a satellite radio system for CEIDC, however, in the end, the council voted to pay the bills as they come in until a new CEIDC can be constituted and take over the decision making in the future. 

The council was then asked to approved a lease agreement with Texas Workforce Solutions to rent two offices in the Tech Center located at 1505 South 4th Street. The agreement had already been approved and signed by the previous leadership at CEIDC but Mike Marsh and Gene Caldwell argued the lease was short-sighted and would not do much to help the city pay for the facility. 

The rent would amount to $2,400 a month for a five-year term. Council members noted utilities alone in the facility already cost more than $5,000 per month plus the note paid each month for the building itself. They argued a five-year lease would hamper the facility should another entity want to rent it out completely. Marsh and Caldwell wanted to see if the agreement could be renegotiated to at least a smaller timeframe and voted against the measure. Darryl Jones and Ernest Jackson were in favor, saying getting something for the facility would be better than nothing. The two voted for the measure, leaving a tie broken by the mayor in favor of moving forward with the agreement since it had already been agreed to and signed by CEIDC. Council member Marquita Beasley was absent, which necessitated the mayor’s tie-breaking vote. 

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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