By CRISTIN REECE
The majority of the Palestine City Council made Deputy City Secretary Teresa Herrera the official city secretary during Monday’s regular council meeting.
Councilman Vernon Denmon Jr. cast the lone dissenting vote, but not because he feels Herrera doesn’t deserve the job.
“It’s absolutely nothing personal against her,” Denmon said immediately following Monday’s meeting. “I would have liked to see a resume. The city has in place hiring policies that include requesting resumes from all applicants to any city position. I just felt like if we’re going to ask it of one, we should ask it of all.”
Herrera has been serving in the capacity of city secretary since former City Secretary Janelle Williams resigned earlier this year. Herrera, who was unable to attend Monday’s meeting due to a family matter, has been working for the city of Palestine since 2007.
In a separate personnel matter, council members approved budget amendment requests from the Palestine Economic Development Corporation board for fiscal year 2012-13 to create an assistant EDC director position.
“The board had already budgeted to add this position for next year,” EDC Director and interim City Manager Wendy Ellis said. “With the council’s appointment last week, our board met Friday and approved creating this position now, so we can keep up with things as I serve as interim city manager.”
Ellis was appointed interim city manager on Monday, June 17. City Manager Mike Ohrt, who was absent from Monday’s meeting due to a family matter, tendered his resignation earlier this month.
In other business, council members approved granting a specific use permit requesting the empty building located at 3215 W. Oak St. be used as a church, after holding a public hearing on the matter.
“We’ve been very active in our community, with things like giving water away at our festivals and holding an appreciation banquet for our emergency responders,” church pastor V.E. Leach told the Council during the hearing. “And we want to continue making the city of Palestine a better place to live for all.”
City officials reported 18 notices were sent to property owners in the area and only one opposition response was received. No opposing comments were made during the public hearing held during Monday’s meeting.
“I think it’s great,” Councilman Jim Yelverton said. “That building’s been empty for too long.”
Also on Monday, the Council:
• APPROVED a lease agreement, with some revisions, with the East Texas Council of Governments to rent office space at the Palestine Mall.
• APPROVED revisions to tax abatement contracts with Sanderson Farms Inc.
• APPROVED expenditures for custom Christmas decorations.
• APPROVED an ordinance adopting revisions to existing downtown parking.
• APPROVED improvements at the Palestine Mall to support the creation of a welding program through Trinity Valley Community College.
• RECOGNIZED police dispatchers Darel Thomas and Chuck Blalock; Police Academy graduates Suzanne Wesson and Brandon Nicholson; Fire Academy graduate Benjamin Henderson; and promoted Sgt. James Muniz to lieutenant.