February 2014

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City Manager receives pay raise

City acquires new police vehicles

Police Chief delivers annual Racial Profiling Report

Council votes final approval of new trash contract

Hwy 6 infrastructure nearing construction

AISD News

Mayor and two council positions up for election

Citizens participating in CERT Training

Police Department applies for personnel grant

 

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City Manager receives pay raise

February 5, 2014

 

City manager Kyle Jung will receive additional compensation after Manvel city council unanimously agreed to amend his employment contract last week. Council approved an extension to the agreement by two years (until January 2017), a 3% increase to his base salary, one additional week of paid vacation, and payment of the employee portion of the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS).

Jung commented: “The feedback I received from the council during their evaluation was positive and I appreciate their consideration and approval of changes to the employment agreement. I am excited to work with the City Council to continually improve the City’s services and to provide the professional local government management the citizens expect and deserve.”

Council member Adrian Gaspar said council gave him “a raise of merit, we all felt that he did a good job.” Member Melody Hanson felt it necessary to grant the changes “to remain competitive. Mr. Jung is doing a good job for the city. As we are on the cusp of growth, his role as city manager becomes even more critical.” Member Lew Shuffler said, “I believe Kyle did an excellent job in 2013. Council was happy to extend his contract and enhance his benefits package.”

In the current year’s budget negotiations last September council agreed to fund pay raises for most every city employee. While some received modest cost-of-living adjustments, others saw double digit increases in their salaries. Jung pushed the effort then to bring city compensation to a more competitive level with other like cities in the area. City controller Phyllis Herbst justified the raises, saying, “For years our staff has gone without raises, either no raise at all or very small. And they are hired on at a very low pay. We are starting to have turnover. We are starting to have employees needing to go somewhere else in this economy. We have a good staff and to see them walk, and the turnover, is just amazing to see some good people leave.”

Jung began working for the city in January 2012 on a three-year contract. On the first anniversary of his employment council awarded him a raise of $2,000 per month and agreed to fund the total cost of the health insurance premiums for his entire family. City employees typically are covered only for their individual premiums. Member John Cox was the only dissenting vote then saying “there is a limit to what we can pay.” Cox believed Jung was doing a good job but felt the city could not afford the increased compensation package. Effective in January 2013 Jung’s contract amendment provided annual compensation of $124,000; $100,000 base pay and $24,000 for a car allowance and health insurance benefit premiums. The current amendment will raise that compensation by 3%.

Additionally, Jung will now enjoy a total of fifteen days (3 weeks) paid vacation and will see city taxpayers fund both the employer and employee portions of his retirement contributions to the Texas Municipal Retirement System. Jung explained the employee contribution is 5% of his salary or $5,150. Altogether, Jung realized a salary increase approximating 10%.

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City acquires new police vehicles

February 5, 2014

 

The Manvel Police Department has put into service three new patrol vehicles. At a cost of approximately $37,400 each including the communications and electronic equipment, Chevy Tahoes will replace a 2003 Expedition, 2003 Crown Victoria, and a 2008 Crown Victoria. The police fleet now includes the three new Tahoe’s, two 2010 Crown Victoria’s, and one 2008 Crown Victoria.

The Tahoes include new cages, radars, video systems, and updated City of Manvel police markings. The city is processing a grant application for new radios for all the vehicles and expects to hear if the grant was approved in the next 60 days or so. The City will either sell the retired vehicles or repurpose them by moving them to the Public Works or Code Enforcement Departments.

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Police Chief delivers annual Racial Profiling Report

February 12, 2014

 

Manvel police chief Keith Traylor delivered to city council an annual report on racial profiling that is mandated by state law. Because the department has video systems that are kept for ninety days a tier one report requiring less detail is required than would otherwise be the case. The report is comprised from data that is compiled from traffic stops where citations were issued or when persons have been arrested and subsequent charges have been filed.

Manvel data show 1,253 traffic stops in 2013 with none of the races or ethnicities known prior to the stop. The breakdown of the race/ethnicity follow: 546 Caucasian, 373 Hispanic, 274 African-American, and 60 of other race or ethnicity. A total of 153 searches were conducted during the stops with 113 of those consented to and 38 not consented to.

Statistics indicate the department is operating within acceptable numbers and indicate no bias toward racial profiling.

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Council votes final approval of new trash contract

February 12, 2014

 

After some debate on whether citizens had ample time to sufficiently be heard on the decision to implement a city-wide recycling program, members unanimously agreed to approve the second and final reading of the agreement at this week’s city council meeting.

Progressive Waste Solutions (PWS) received a new Franchise Agreement to continue their trash collection service as before but with a recycling component added. Citizens can expect the new service to begin in mid to late March. Waste will continue to be picked up on the same days but with Tuesday being only trash day and Friday being only recycle day. Customers will be issued two large trash cans, one green for regular trash and one blue for recyclable items. It is explained that recycling is far less burdensome today than it once was. Customers no longer are required to sort recyclable items before making them eligible for pick-up. With few exceptions most all glass, plastic, metal, and paper can be thrown all together in the blue can. Experience in other communities supports the expectation that the amount of recyclable items will be of a sufficient amount that once weekly garbage pickup will be sufficient for most all customers.

Several council members and the mayor reported that some citizens have complained that they have no interest in participating in the recycling program and are not happy about the reduction of their trash pickup to once per week. In an effort to appease those concerns, the new agreement provides customers the opportunity to request a substitution of the blue recycle can for a second green trash can at no cost. Trash will only be picked up on Tuesday’s, however, so while the volume of trash may remain unchanged from current service, customers will see their trash picked up on only one day each week.

Considerable discussion took place among council members. It was suggested by Member Gaspar that the final vote be put off for the next council meeting to allow citizens to voice their concerns. An idea was floated about having different services; one for “old Manvel” and one for “new Manvel”. Old Manvel being the more established rural part of the city while new Manvel is comprised of the new subdivision developments. Council generally took exception to the separation and preferred to consider the city as one entity.

Ultimately it was agreed that while there are some who oppose the change in service and not everybody will be happy with the decision, ample opportunity existed for citizens to voice their feelings on the matter. The likelihood of the new agreement being put in place was first proposed and reported on a year ago. And citizens who felt strongly could have presented their concerns at the council meeting yet only one man showed up to do so.

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Hwy 6 infrastructure nearing construction

February 12, 2014

 

Manvel will soon provide water and sewer infrastructure along its Hwy 6 corridor. After years of talking and planning, construction is expected to begin in the next few months on the north side of Hwy 6 from just west of the Burger Barn location. Mayor Delores Martin and City Manager Kyle Jung have worked hard to assemble the required easements and have only a few parcels still to secure to allow the service to extend all the way to Hwy 288.

At this week’s meeting, council met in closed session resulting in an approval of developer requested amendments to Agreements negotiated some years ago on property along the northeast corner of Hwy 288 and Hwy 6 to just west of Iowa Lane. The owner of that property holds the final easements needed and were unwilling to negotiate with the city on their acquisition. There was some displeasure expressed by the developer at a January council meeting that the city was attempting to change the original Developer Agreement that was negotiated in good faith. The developer took the stand that they would not accede to the city’s request on the easements unless the city honored the original Agreement with their proposed amendments. Council apparently agreed and voted to approve the amendments without comment when they returned to public session.

Mayor Delores Martin has said in the past that over the years she has been in office various types of businesses have come to Manvel excited about establishing operations only to be discouraged once it is realized that the city does not have the water and sewer infrastructure to accommodate their needs. Proposed businesses on the south side of Hwy 6 would be able to utilize the service by assenting in their development agreement with the city to bore under the road to acquire service. Ultimately the city wants to extend the service to the south side as well.

Funding for the construction will come from the Manvel Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). As a member of MEDC, council member Melody Hanson told council at the time the commitment to fund the work was approved that over a million dollars had been collected to finance suitable projects and that this plan is a “perfect fit for the city”.

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AISD News

February 19, 2014

 

The Alvin Independent School District (AISD) announced the names of three new schools and the administration building in Alvin. David Becker was appointed chairman of the naming committee which was comprised of two board members, two administrators, two teachers, and two community members. The committee was charged with accepting nominations, meeting to discuss them, and submitting recommendations to the Board of Trustees. Facility names should be named for persons or places with prominence either locally or nationally in the fields of education, science, art, or statesmanship.

Becker described the process as “taking quite a bit of time and involved a lot of discussion. There were a lot of good candidates and it was very difficult to narrow it down.” Elementary #15 which will be opening for the next school year in August and is located on CR 59 just east of Kirby in Manvel’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, will be known as Dr. James “Red” Duke Elementary. Dr. Duke is a noted surgeon who initiated the first Trauma Center in Texas and started the LifeFlight helicopter service at Houston’s Hermann Hospital. He also is known as one of the attending physicians to former Governor John Connally and former President John Kennedy in Dallas in 1963. And he is a well-recognized television personality having hosted different national programs and running regular stories on local Houston news stations.

Elementary #16 will be called Bill Hasse Elementary. Hasse is a lifelong Alvinite and served AISD from 1957 until his retirement in 1995. He served in numerous capacities for the district and worked as superintendents for ten years from 1985 to 1995.

The new high school to be opened in Shadow Creek Ranch and located near the intersection of Kirby and Broadway will be known as Shadow Creek High School. The high school will be ready in time for the 2016-2017 school year.

The committee was also asked to name the district’s administration building and recommended it be named after recently retired administrator Tommy King. King served AISD for more than twenty years and during his time the district received eleven consecutive superior ratings for financial integrity and reporting. Becker said the committee recommended King as having the “highest moral and ethical standards.”

In other AISD news, the Board of Trustees authorized the calling and schedule of a Trustee election for Saturday, May 10, 2014. Two positions will be up for election this year. Position 6 is currently held by Sue Stringer who has held the position for one term. Stringer has announced her intention of running for a second term. Position 7 is currently held by Charles McCauley who has held the position for several terms. McCauley has indicated that he will not be running for re-election. AISD Trustees are elected by a simple plurality vote which means there will be no run-off election. The deadline to file for a trustee position is February 28, 2014.

Trustees approved a bid proposal for the completion of aesthetic and structural repairs to the Alvin Memorial Stadium. The work consists of various repairs to concrete and expansion joints as well as coating of beams, columns, and decks. The total expenditure of the work will be $437,520 and will be done in two phases due to venue usage. The first phase is scheduled to begin in March.

The first of two Guaranteed Maximum Price contracts was awarded for the construction of the new Shadow Creek High School. The first contract is in the amount of $7,037,956 and will fund the site access and mobilization, detention pond excavation, placement of underground infrastructure, site build-up, and grading and stabilization of paved areas. It is expected that construction will commence quickly as current plans call for the school to be ready for service in little more than two years for the 2016-12017 school year.

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Mayor and two council positions up for election

February 19, 2014

 

At last week’s city council meeting, members authorized the city to call and conduct a general election on May 10, 2014. Mayor Delores Martin will be seeking her sixth consecutive term as mayor and is currently unopposed. Council member John Cox, a self-employed barber, will seek re-election for his Place 3 position and will be challenged by John Aucoin, a system engineer and police officer. Member Larry Akery will defend his Place 5 position and is being challenged by Jerome Hudson. Both Akery and Hudson are retired. Hudson competed for a council position previously.

The deadline to file for one of the positions is February 28, 2014. Interested parties should see the city secretary to complete the required paperwork.

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Citizens participating in CERT Training

February 26, 2014

 

Several Manvel citizens are participating in an eight-week class in emergency response training at the Manvel EMS station. The training, known as CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), is conducted by the Homeland Preparedness Project and is free to participants. The Homeland Preparedness Project was formed in 2004 in an effort to “improve the level of preparedness in their communities.” The 24 hours of training presents a myriad of topics on personal and family preparedness for natural disasters and potential acts of terrorism.

The FEMA website describes the CERT program as educating “people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.”

The website also explains the benefit to the community: “People who go through CERT training have a better understanding of the potential threats to their home, workplace and community and can take the right steps to lessen the effects of these hazards on themselves, their homes or workplace. If a disaster happens that overwhelms local response capability, CERT members can apply the training learned in the classroom and during exercises to give critical support to their family, loved ones, neighbors or associates in their immediate area until help arrives. When help does arrive, CERTs provide useful information to responders and support their efforts, as directed, at the disaster site. CERT members can also assist with non-emergency projects that improve the safety of the community. CERTs have been used to distribute and/or install smoke alarms, replace smoke alarm batteries in the home of elderly, distribute disaster education material, provide services at special events, such as parades, sporting events, concerts and more.”

Manvel City Council Member Lew Shuffler was instrumental in getting the class off the ground. A similar effort was tried in 2012 but resulted in too few commitments and was cancelled. In promoting the effort Shuffler said he “believes our city will be stronger and safer if there is a team of properly trained citizens in place ready to respond in a professional and organized manner should it become necessary.” After six weeks in the program he said “I think the program is great. I’ve learned things form the very first class. It’s not just what you do if a major issue develops, but what you can do in your own home to keep your family and loved ones safe and your neighbors safe. It’s the whole spectrum; how you can recognize different kinds of situations that I never even thought of in the past. I think it is something as a community we need.”

Manvel EMS Director Dave Ferguson said he is “really proud of the community and the folks that showed up to do this. I think they are learning a lot.” Mayor Delores Martin is participating in the class and expresses her feeling that she should set an example for fellow citizens to follow. “I think the training is fantastic. My philosophy is that I would never ask anyone to do anything I would not do myself. That is why I am part of this.” City Fire Marshal Aaron Bell said “I think it is really good for the community to learn how to help in a unified manner. We just need to get more people involved.” Class participants have well received the instruction. City Secretary Tammy Bell expressed her feeling that “people think it is more community outreach, but everything we have learned can be used at home and in our everyday life. If you ever have a disaster at your house all this stuff will come in handy.”

Bill Ray has been the lead instructor for Brazoria County for nine years. He claims to have founded the Homeland Preparedness Project in 2004 as a “way to get people who want to help involved that it is safe and efficient for them to be useful and helpful in the community.” He explained that there are teams throughout the county and says there are “right at 600 people trained in CERT and over 2,000 volunteers that are involved in various other capacities.” He conceded it is a “fairly high number, but we need lots more.” Regarding this class, he describes it as “an excellent class. They really are engaged in what we are doing and I think they will be a valuable asset to the community.” Gale Stefka assists Ray in the training. She believes the class is going well, saying “I think they are having a really good time. I am enjoying teaching the class, it’s a lot of fun and everybody has seemed to have a really good time.”

A new class is planned to begin on March 27 and will run for eight weeks through May 15. The classes are free to participants and meet for three hours, 6:30 to 9:30, on Thursday nights at the Manvel EMS station on Masters Road. As the class flyer says, “When you are trained, you are far better equipped to deal with your circumstances without needing aid from outside sources.”

For additional information, visit www.homelandpreparedness.org or call 281-844-3653. Online registration for the March 27 class can be found at http://bit.ly/Manvel2.

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Police Department applies for personnel grant

February 26, 2014

 

Manvel police chief Keith Traylor received approval from city council to submit a grant application for a criminal investigator and related vehicle and equipment to the Criminal Justice Division of the governor’s office. Traylor explained that he was going to request the position in the upcoming budget year and that it is “the perfect opportunity for us to do this.”

The grant is limited to $125,000 and Traylor projects the city’s request to be no more than $90,000. If selected to receive the funds, the grant will pay 100% the first year, 80% the second year, and 60% the third year. The city will be required to fund 100% of the costs beginning in year 4. Traylor says it will give the department time to “start building some revenue to pay for the position.” Traylor estimates the total compensation, including benefits, of the new position would be approximately $50,000.

He described the need for a full time criminal investigator as dire. Currently the department consists of seven patrol officers, two supervisors, and the chief. “If we have a criminal case to investigate we are looking at taking a patrol officer off the street. If it is a major case we are looking at considerable time that the officer will be off the street. I don’t like taking patrol officers off the street; that’s where they are supposed to be.” The new investigator would “investigate crimes and will leave the officers patrolling where they should be.”

The chief told council that he will be looking at computer upgrades in the next fiscal year that will keep officers on the street where they can complete their paperwork in their patrol vehicles. “There are a lot of things we are doing to keep them out on the streets and keeping them visible.”

In other council news, members voted to approve an ordinance allowing an amendment to the general fund budget to provide funding of approximately $28,000 for an update to the city’s thoroughfare plan. City Manager Kyle Jung told council that the current Capital Improvement Plan includes $65,000 for improvements to the city hall parking lot. He suggested deferring that improvement and transferring the required amount from that line item to engineering in order to contract the work. The city attorney will negotiate an agreement which would require council approval before the study can begin.

The last thoroughfare plan was part of the city’s Comprehensive Plan done in 2007 and as Jung describes it, it was not done with much engineering but rather was more of a planner’s design. This plan would “actually include the engineering behind it,” he said. The study should require between six to eight months to complete once the contract is approved.

Mayor Delores Martin says “it is important that we have a thoroughfare plan that works. We need to learn from our neighbors on what not to do.” Manvel’s consulting civil engineer, Dan Johnson, expressed excitement at getting the updated plan and said “this is one of those times when we need to go to an expert in that field.” He went on to say that “it will be a valuable tool when we sit down with developers.”

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