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Council grapples with grant words
by Tim Delaney
Jul 12, 2013 | 1115 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AUSTWELL – An interlocal agreement with the county on a grant that would be used to construct a wetlands center by the Austwell Community Center was tabled by the Austwell City Council to get clarification on wording of the grant.

The council’s action on Monday evening, July 8, was a great concern over maintenance of the center.

The Wetlands Information Center would be constructed with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant being funneled through Refugio County.

But the grant seems to specify that the center be open to the public on a daily basis and “manned” by a staff person.

The council agreed that the city understood that it would not incur any cost for the center. The council also agreed that the city did not have resources to keep air conditioning going and to hire someone as staff for the center on a daily basis.

An inquiry with Grantworks will be made to find out if the verbiage can be taken out of the grant, which is for $184,000. The council will meet again July 15 to act on signing the interlocal agreement with Refugio County.

A second interlocal agreement with Refugio County through Grantworks and another U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant for $185,000 that would be used for a storm water drainage line down Bay Street was approved.

The city will go out for bids in the next couple of weeks for the project.

After a closed session, the council hired Melissa Hopper as its city secretary. Jennifer Wright, current secretary, has taken a position with the Austwell-Tivoli school district.

Also, after an emotional plea to turn water and electricity back on by an Austwell resident at 411 Proctor St., the council tabled the agenda item, pending a letter from AEP.

Mayor David Cann said the issue had been addressed in a previous meeting in which the council agreed its would waive any penalties for ordinance violations if the resident provided a letter from an engineer and a letter from AEP. The resident had a letter from an engineer but did not have the second letter.

The council also appointed Lois Cochran as the city’s emergency management coordinator.

Cann said Cochran has plans to form a volunteer group that would aid the elderly, pets and help board up in case of a hurricane.

The council also voted to keep the same tax rate for 2013. That rate is 50 cents for every $100 worth of property.

The council also accepted an animal control report. For June, the animal control dealt with three dogs, one raccoon and one dead animal. Also, three of those animals caught were euthanized.

Councilwoman Nadine Garner noted that animal control has advised not to feed foxes because they grow less fearful of humans and could become a problem especially if the animal is carrying rabies.

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