By CRISTIN REECE
PALESTINE — After just over an hour in executive session, the Palestine City Council unanimously approved offering interim City Manager Wendy Ellis the chance to make her interim gig permanent.
A quorum of council members voted on the matter during Monday's regular council meeting. Councilman Jim Yelverton was absent from the entire meeting. Council members Vickie Chivers and Vernon Denmon Jr. — both of whom attended Monday's meeting — did not return to open session after the Council's executive meeting ended, and so abstained from voting on the issue. Council members offered the position of city manager to Ellis, contingent upon salary negotiations.
“We think this would be an extremely good fit,” Councilman Mark Price said after Monday's meeting.
Ellis, who is also the Palestine Economic Development Corporation director, has served as interim city manager since July, when the former city manager resigned to take another position elsewhere.
“I’m extremely honored the council trusts me enough to even think of me in this position,” Ellis said in July.
Additional matters which were addressed during executive session on Monday also included leasing property by the Palestine Economic Development Corporation and discussion concerning the settlement agreement reached in a lawsuit between the city and Ameristar Hotels LLC.
Council members approved the items concerning leasing property and took on action on the law suit issue.
In other business, the Council approved a specific use permit for Grace United Methodist Church to allow certain uses of the property located at 2130 Country Club Drive. Two people spoke in favor of the matter during a public hearing on the item earlier during Monday's meeting. No one spoke in opposition.
“Palestine is turing a corner, economically and I think this illustrates that,” Pastor Phil Chamberlain said during the public hearing. “People won't see an old, abandoned building now. They'll see an active worshipping body, filled with life and love.”
Specific uses specifically listed on the permit include allowing the church to use the existing building for worship services; using the existing golf course for prayer trails; and allowing the renovation of the existing residence to accommodate classrooms, offices and for worship services.
Also on Monday, the Council:
• APPROVED a specific use permit request for an off-premises monument sign to be located at 2042 Crockett Road.
• APPROVED an ordinance to permit the operation of golf carts on public streets in specific neighborhoods during daylight hours.
• APPROVED a lease agreement with Pain Care Clinic.
• APPROVED a residential replat of lots located at 210 Red Oak Lane.
• APPROVED amending the city’s current zoning ordinance which details types of accessory structures located within residential zoning districts.
The Palestine City Council meets every second and fourth Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m., in the City Hall conference room at City Hall, 504 N. Queen St., in Palestine.
The public is welcome to attend.