Possible future annexation by the City of Palestine will be discussed Monday night during a work session during the regular city council meeting.

The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at City Hall. The work session, which has been held an hour prior to previous meetings, is scheduled in between the last item on the regular agenda and the beginning of the “Items from Council” portion of the meeting, when city council members have the floor to discuss issues, mention upcoming events or offer a word of appreciation to community members.

City Manager Dale Brown said Friday afternoon that the areas in question for possible future annexation include the Fort Houston Homestead subdivision, where only part of the development lies inside the city limits, and an area south of town along U.S. 287/Texas 19.

“It’s mainly at this point a map,” Brown said, “and asking council if they want to talk about it.”

The council will be considering whether to change the city statute that sets the number of police positions in the city police department, upon the request of Police Chief Chuck Edge.

Since former Capt. Brian Wharton resigned from the department at the end of June to enter theological studies out of state, the department has been without an assistant police chief, a position which civil service law requires to be filled within 90 days.

However, a current shortage of officers has left the department thinly staffed, Edge wrote in a summary explaining the matter to council members. Four recruits now in a training program are not expected to be able to provide any staffing relief until closer to the end of the year.

“Thus far I have been unable to make that appointment because the net effect of any promotion to Captain is that we lose a patrolman,” Edge said in his summary. “The department quite frankly can’t afford to lose any patrolmen. Currently, all training and vacations have been suspended due to manpower shortages in the patrol division and in dispatch.

“To remove any patrolman, even due to something as rewarding as a promotion, would cause extreme hardship.”

Bettye Lynn, an attorney who works with the city on civil service matters, has advised Edge and Brown that the city’s best option under the circumstances is to change the current ordinance temporarily to remove the Asst. Chief/Captain position until adequate staffing is in place.

“The attorney that consults with us relating to civil service law felt that if we don’t fill it immediately, there’s some sort of problem with civil service law,” Brown said Friday afternoon.

In addition during the “Items from Council” portion of the meeting, Councilman Steve Presley is expected to update the council on the efforts by the Texas State Railroad Preservation Task Force to keep the trains running.

Following the “Items from Council” portion, council members are expected to meet in closed session to discuss an interlocal agreement with Rusk to create an administrative agency for management of railroad operations at the Texas State Railroad. During the previous meeting held Sept. 25, council members approved entering into such an agreement with Rusk, if the Rusk city council also agreed.

Upon conclusion of the closed session, the council is expected to re-convene in open session to take any action necessary on items discussed in closed session. By law, action may not be taken during closed session.

Also, the council is expected to:

CONSIDER an ordinance changing the name of Chism Drive to Panther Boulevard, as requested by the Westwood Independent School District. The only properties bordering Chism Drive are the Westwood High School and Junior High School campuses.

CONSIDER an ordinance authorizing a budget amendment for cemetery records conversion for $1,800;

CONSIDER a funding request from the Palestine Economic Development Corp. for GIS Mapping Project which would provide aerial mapping of the city and a 1-mile extra-territorial jurisdiction to be used by the city and by developers in construction projects;

CONSIDER approval of the Consent Agenda, which contains the following items: minutes of the worksession and regular meeting held Sept. 11; minutes of the special meeting held Sept. 18; consider award of bid for Rusk School asbestos abatement to Merico Abatement in the amount of $18,945; consider award of bid for Carnegie Building asbestos abatement to Abatement Services in the amount of $7,395; consider authorizing annual payment for police department records management system — CRIMES, $18,000; consider final replat of Lot 3, Block 1, Willow Creek Business Park, Phase I in order to create Lots 3R-1 and 3R-2, Block 1, Willow Creek Business Park/Eric J. Tarrant/Applicant, which would allow Tarrant to build a new Pizza Hut restaurant on Lot 3R-1 along Loop 256; and consider ordinance correcting clerical error in tax levy ordinance;

HEAR the city manager’s report on the closing of Greens Park Pool and a discussion relative to the location of the caboose to be displayed at the Visitor Information Center/Farmers Market;

HEAR comments from Jack Coleman on political sign placement regulations.

CONSIDER appointing Lottie Jonas to the Tourism Advisory Board to replace Roger Shock;

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Beth Foley may be contacted via e-mail at bfoley@palestineherald.com

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