By Chris Edwards
Before Mayor Byron Richards called the Monday, May 18 meeting of the Groveton City Council to order, he, along with returning councilmembers Tommy Walton and Glenn Ward were administered the oaths of their respective positions by Groveton Municipal judge Angelia Evans. Council met a week in advance of its usual stated meeting due to Monday being the observance of Memorial Day.
Once Mayor Richards signaled the meeting's beginning with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, Groveton EMS owner David Robison was on hand to speak during the public forum portion of the meeting.
Robison reported that he and his crew have been busy with the ambulance service. "I wanted to invest....and I have," he said. Robison made note of upgrades he had procured for the ambulance, including $3500 worth of new pharmaceuticals, which have helped upgrade the status of the ambulance to a mobile ICU. "I believe we're making a difference," he said.
Robison also reported that he is currently working on a deal with Terry Cartwright to move Groveton EMS headquarters into the old Groveton Funeral Home. He asked council members to look over a sample contract he handed out and for help subsidizing the service. Currently, Groveton EMS is subsidized by Trinity County for $1,000 per month, with the county officials looking at a possible increase, but otherwise, Robison has handled most expenditures. With the re-routing of the Medicare and Medicaid system, post-Affordable Care Act, it has been difficult for emergency service providers to be reimbursed for their services, particularly with rural providers. Robison asked the council to consider a $1,500 monthly subsidy toward the service. Robison said the money would be used toward his insurance and fuel.
Groveton Police Chief John Raiford gave his monthly report and called last month's numbers "good, citation-wise and in terms of calls [responded to]". He made note of his department's participation in National Night Out, which will take place on October 6, on the square in downtown Groveton. He called the event "a lot of fun" and encouraged the officials at the meeting as well as the citizens present to come out and enjoy the fellowship and fun of the event.
Allan Jenkins of Severn-Trent Services presented the City of Groveton with an invoice of $4,668.86 for water and sewage services for April. He said everything was in compliance and presented council with a request for an amendment to the firm's existing contract with the city. The contract would have Severn-Trent available for daily services to the city for four hours per day, instead of a weekly allotted 20-hour figure.
Groveton VFD Assistant Chief David Mueller was present to ask the city for help toward costs incurred during the repair of a fire engine. Mueller said the vehicle had to undergo major repairs, which have been paid for, but that with the 10 days it took for repairs, the cost of renting another fire engine exceeded the initial budget. He asked the councilmembers for $1,500, which councilman Walton motioned to fund, with councilman Ralph Bennett providing a second to accept.
In other business, Mayor Richards updated council on the potential SR-20 bio-fuels plant project. He said that representatives from the Oklahoma-based company were supposed to be scouting a location in the area soon.
Councilman Walton motioned to re-appoint Evans as City Judge of Groveton, with a second from councilman Ward. Evans was re-appointed to serve the city for another two-year term.
Mayor Richards made note of a shortfall in the city budget due to the Westwood Shores subdivision using far less water than what was budgeted. Mayor Richards said he was not certain as to the cause, but noted that the city's budget is "very tight" and told council to think about the issue. He said he would talk with city accountant Jack Paschetag about the issue and more discussion would take place at the next city council meeting, pending more information.
The long-awaited water well project is "pretty close to start-up," Mayor Richards said. He said he was waiting to have a conference with engineer Jimmy Thompson of KSA Engineering concerning the final details of the project.
With no further business to discuss, councilman Walton motioned to adjourn the meeting, with councilman Steve Casper providing a second to the motion.