Levelland City council had their regular meeting last night in City hall to go over a few items on the agenda. Originally set to be in the R. O. Dennis Council Chambers, the meeting was moved to an adjacent meeting room to accommodate ZOOM video calls from City attorney Matt Wade and Councilman Jim Myatt, who could not be there in person. Unfortunately the change in venue caused technical issues, so Facebook live was not utilized at this meeting.
COVID-19 statistics were once again given by Hockley County Emergency Management Lead Cole Kirkland. As of January 13th there were 682 active cases in the county, with 51.17 % of county citizens being vaccinated. The state still surges forward with 72.85% vaccination rates. Cole stated that everything that could be done to lessen the impact of the pandemic was being done, and that the current situation was not an issue of supplies but an issue of staffing. When asked by Councilwoman Buxkemper about government assistance in the way of getting more nurses, he explained that all resources in those programs were stretched very thin. That being said, Cole believes things are better than the initial statistics may imply. “We’re on the downhill side” he explained. Even with the surge in cases from the new Omicron variant, hospitalizations are on the decline, showing great promise for the county’s resources.
There were several budget amendments brought before the council last night as well. These were for things affected by unforeseen circumstances, such as vehicles, which might be impacted by supply chain issues. Staff were also hopeful that the city’s seal coat project would be finished last year, so it was not entered into this fiscal year’s budget. However, weather and supply issues impeded the project from being completed last year. The request by council to use ARPA funds for employee retention payments were also included in the amendments along with the addition of an OXY grant of $10K for the purchase of H2S monitors for our emergency response personnel.
Parks Director Dustin Reichelt presented the progress on the construction plans for Bartlett Park last night as well. The plans for the sign were presented superimposed on a picture of the park so council members could get an idea what it would look like once completed. The sign is to be 4’X8′ with the words “Bartlett Park” on the front, facing the street. There is discussion on placing a bench in honor of Levelland PD’s own Shawn Wilson next to the sign, and once construction is complete Bryant Electric will install lighting. It’s a heavy duty construction to ensure the longevity of the sign, and the tribute to fallen officer Josh Bartlett.
The last several meetings of City council have seen the community express their desire for another look at how things are done with the Levelland Animal Shelter. Citizens have made it out to express their desires, which ultimately culminated in the reintroduction of the Animal Services Task Force. This Task Force was called upon a few years ago to take a comprehensive look at the shelter and how it was run, however Council saw fit to bring it back with new members to take another look. The requisite roles to be filled on the Task Force were 2 members from 2 separate animal welfare groups, 1 member from a licensed veterinarian, 1 member from City Council, 2 members that are residents of Levelland (not affiliated with any animal rescue or animal humane organization), and one member that lives outside city limits, but within Hockley County. Andrea Corley, City Secretary explained that since getting the word out about this Task Force, several interested parties had come forward to apply for a spot. After deliberating on who the Council had spoken with, the Task Force will be made of these members: Jill Pitts and Sallie Morris as Animal welfare representatives, Dr. Jimmy Gleason as Veterinarian, Councilwoman Mary Engledow, Lola Smith and Kristi Sanders as City residents, and Hayley Potter as County resident. No information was made available on when the Task Force’s first meeting will be.
Finally there was an open discussion with the public about the redistricting process for the city’s Single Member Districts. Some citizens were concerned the redistricting would give some council members unfair advantages, but Matt Wade, City Attorney explained that the Voting Rights Act requires that populations be as even as possible between districts to ensure that every citizen’s vote counts. The council had previously chosen plan D, in a 50/50 split vote, though when voting to move forward with this redistricting plan last night, only Jim Myatt stood in opposition. Plan D was accepted as the plan of action moving forward, concluding business for the council