FERRIS — The Monday session of the Ferris City Council was a busy one with several agenda items passed, recognitions made and a new city manager taking a seat.
Ferris Police Chief Eddie Salazar brought the council a proposal to change the city’s non-consent tows from a rotation system to an exclusive service.
“I recommend that the City of Ferris establish a contract with one particular towing company for all wrecker or towing services for non-consent tows and all towing requests made by the city police, fire, and code enforcement departments, Salazar said during his presentation.
With the current rotation system, Salazar told the council response times range between 30 minutes to an hour.
“This means that officers have no choice but to wait, often times on the shoulder of the road and more often than not, with a prisoner in the back seat of their patrol car,” Salazar said.
According to Salazar, the city wrote more than 3,400 citations in fiscal 2016.
“Approximately 85 vehicles were towed for one reason or another. I anticipate FY17 will be even busier due to a recent directive from me to the officers that any vehicles without proof of valid insurance and or a licensed driver must be towed from the scene," Salazar said.
Salazar continued his comments on the city’s towing policy by saying, “If just issue a citation and let them go on down the road and then have an accident, we could be held liable.”
Salazar described the City of Red Oak’s tow program saying that response times and service has significantly improved.
The process outlined by Salazar to select a tow service would be to place a notice for bids. When the bidding has closed, open the bids and choose the best service on a points system. Then his recommendation would be brought to the council for approval.
Mayor Michael Driggars asked could the city possibly piggyback with other neighboring city’s, such as Red Oak, to save the expense of the advertising and bid selection process.
Following further council discussion that expressed the need for an exclusive service, they asked that Salazar look into the possibility of joining and bring back his findings at the next board meeting.
Another request by Salazar was a request to trade three automatic MP5 rifles for AR15 rifles for his department.
Salazar began his illustration for the need of each Ferris officer to be issued an AR15 with the July attack on Dallas officers followed by an attack on New Orleans officers resulting in several lives lost.
“The Ferris Police Department currently possesses three MP5 rifles in 9mm caliber. These weapons are capable of firing in fully automatic mode. Fully automatic rifles are not suitable for use by patrol officers. This type weapon is better suited for SWAT style tactics. For this reason, I have elected not to issue them to the officers as patrol rifles. We also have three AR‐15 patrol rifles in our inventory. I do not have a sufficient amount of AR‐15 is to issue out to all of the patrol officers,” Salazar said describing the need for the trade.
The chief is looking negotiating a trade with a reputable and licensed firearms dealer.
“I believe we can exchange one MP5 rifle for two AR‐15’s. This would give me six patrol rifles at no cost to the city. With the increase of six AR‐15’s, I would be able to issue patrol rifles to the entire patrol division,” Salazar said
The council unanimously approved the trade contingent on the city attorney's approval.
Ferris Fire Chief Tom Leverentz requested the city accept two Texas A&M Forest Service Grants to be used to purchase fire equipment — specifically personal protective equipment, helmets, gloves, bunker gear and safety equipment.
Leverentz told the council the department had been approved for two grants, a #900 with a 75 percent cost share and a $15,000 cost share grants.
“I had saved back money to purchase this equipment, however with these grants I can continue to save the money in my budget and use the grant money,” Leverentz said.
The fire chief’s proposal was unanimously approved.
An economic study program was also unanimously approved.
“Stantec (Formerly SJR) provided economic development consulting services for the city for a portion of the last fiscal year. During the budgeting process, the 4A and 4B boards, as well as the council, approved funding a new contract with Stantec for the current fiscal year. Additionally, staff was directed to ensure that any new agreement provided clear and tangible deliverables from Stantec. This contract does provide such as well as deadlines for their completion,” Jordan said
The scope of the study will include meeting with city staff and Economic Development to discuss topics that include the potential viability of development prospects, attend 4A and 4B meetings to report on four identified project progress, conduct strategic forecasting and provide updates not only to the 4A and 4B boards but the city council.
The $50,000 cost will come from the economic development funds.
A request by Jordan to amend the current dump pass policy was also unanimously approved. The amendment will restrict the use of roll-off dumpsters and limit the time a dumpster can remain on a property.
During the awards and recognitions portion, Mayor Michael Driggars proclaimed November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Receiving the proclamation was Pat Pitts Thibodeau, regent for the old Chisolm Chapter of the NSDAR.
Joining Thibodeau and Driggars for the proclamation was Councilwoman Carol Wright. Wright is registered and recognized by the Cherokee Tribal Nation as a full member, Cherokee tribal Indian.
"I’m very proud of by heritage. My Cherokee ancestors go back many generations that include my grandmother, Nancy Ward being the first woman Cherokee Chief,” Wright said.