Grapeland City Council Works on Improving City Streets With Election Forum Set for Next Week
By Greg Ritchie
GRAPELAND – The Grapeland city council held a regular meeting Tuesday, April 11 to update the city on the progress on street and other repairs and welcomed the new Grapeland Independent School District Superintendent to the community.
In the public comments section, The Messenger invited the council and the city to our public forum event to be held Monday, April 24 at The Station on Highway 287 at 6 p.m. Pastor Wade Harman will give a benediction, followed by Emily Hanna our Peanut Queen leading us in the pledge of allegiance. The candidates for the city council races will answer a series of questions and be available to speak with the public after the forum to address specific concerns.
The Messenger and the Grapeland Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to present the free event inviting all of the candidates for the council race:
Candidates for Grapeland City Council:
Velda Green (I)
George R. Pierson (I)
Questions for each person running for city council:
1. Please tell us about yourself and your background.
2. What is the biggest challenge Grapeland currently faces and how would you work to improve?
3. How will you interact and communicate with the people you represent?
4. How can the city, schools, chamber of commerce, local businesses and the community work together to help Grapeland grow?
5. Why you? Why now?
The city heard reports from the various city departments including water and sewer, reporting 757 meter readings during the month of March, with 10 water leaks reported and 10,000 gallons of loss out of four million gallons running through the system.
Grapeland Police Department (GPD) Chief Richard Lewis reported 34 calls during March with 89 traffic stops, 20 tickets and five arrests.
The council heard from resident Robbie Laws requesting small speed bumps or “rumble strips” be installed on Redbud Street due to a large number of delivery trucks and other vehicles speeding through the area, saying many locals will not let their children play in the front yard due to the danger of speeding vehicles. Grapeland Mayor Mitchell Woody told Laws the city would need three residents to make the request, but the city could install more signage in the area to remind drivers to slow down.
Councilwoman Woody proposed the line item for donations be raised from $500 to $1,000, telling the council this would allow the city to support local youth sports and the higher budget line would allow the city to support both boys and girls teams. This was approved unanimously.
The roadwork set for Pine Street was discussed as Mayor Woody told the council the vendor was requesting an additional $81,000 more than the bid they originally submitted. Woody told the council they could choose to pave a shorter section of the road but noted they had promised this project to the community and would like to see the work completed as originally planned. Woody noted the bid was submitted before the pandemic and the scarcity of some materials and costs increases made the request from the vendor more understandable. The council decided they did have funds to meet this request and voted for the increased price.
Grapeland City Manager Kevin Watts told the council about the work done to clean and paint the water tower and storage tank on the north side of town. NUCOR-Vulcraft had contributed $25,000 in order to help the city and be able to put their name on the tower. Watts told the council the project would cost $43,000 but noted the bids submitted would make the tanks useable and safe for the foreseeable future, noting the tower had last been painted in 1985. This was approved.
There was discussion on allowing people to live in travel trailers within the city. Watts was concerned about ordinances regarding this, telling the council they wanted to keep downtown pretty and not have residents living on the main road through town, either in businesses or recreational vehicles. A time limit to live in such vehicles was proposed, but Mayor Woody asked for time to discuss the issue with the city attorney and report back to the council at a future meeting to see what ordinances would be fair and transparent.
The council also voted to donate some old lawn mowers the city no longer uses to the local Noon Lions Club.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]