Members of Waxahachie 101 met at City Hall on Thursday morning to learn about the role that the departments of public works and environmental health play in the lives of residents.

Director of environmental health Sonny Wilson spoke first about his department’s role and responsibilities.

“I will have been with the city for 28 years beginning this May. I have seen a lot of changes in those 28 years in the city of Waxahachie. We have been through a few lean years in the last few years. We hope that the economy will turn around so we can get going again. One thing for sure is that each year is a challenge in our department,” Wilson said. “In my department I have 10 full time employees,” he said. “Our health department is an environmental health department, which is a little different from a public health department. Larger cities have both a public health department and an environmental health department. The main difference is a public health deals more with vaccinations and medical type things. Environmental health deals with more public health safety, environmental needs and things like that.”

Wilson’s department does the permitting and inspections for all of the food establishments inside the city, which includes businesses such as restaurants, schools, hospitals, grocery and convenience stores. If a complaint is filed with his office, an inspector goes out and investigates, and makes sure any deficiency is corrected. His department also holds classes so people can get their food handler’s permit by educating them on how to serve a safe meal. 

Another function of the department is to inspect current and new septic systems that are installed in the city. Also available to residents is the Citizens Convenience Station, which is located on Howard Road. The station allows people to take in items they can’t set out on the curb and also collects brush, which is made into mulch and given away free.

“We have a convenience station that is located at Lions Park. It is mainly for residential citizens. They are allowed to use that facility to bring out recyclables, bulk items and any waste that are not able to be picked up curb side. Any type of yard waste can be brought out there. There is no charge for that. We have a lot of good mulch from grinding all of that wood waste that is out there,” Wilson said. “If you go out on Saturday at 1 p.m. our staff will help you load it into the back of your truck or if you have a car you can load it into bags. I tell you that it is very, very good product that is out there right now. There is no cost (for the mulch) and if you go out there they will give it to you. We always make sure that we have a good supply for our citizens.”?The environmental health department includes the city’s animal control function, which is staffed by three employees. It is a full service animal control with a shelter that holds animals to be adopted.

Wilson said the city council approved renewing the solid waste and recycling with its current provider, IESI. The contract is for 10 years and residents should not see any cost added for this service. The idea of going to poly carts was looked at but curbside pickup with trash bags will remain.

After Wilson, Jeff Chambers, who is the director of public works for the city, discussed his department, which is divided into two areas: engineering and streets. Some of the functions and responsibilities of his department are the design of new streets, storm drainage systems, inspection of new street construction, storm drainage systems, water lines, sewer lines, new water and sewer plant construction and plant renovations.

Chambers has to review construction and platting documents for private developments and also maintains records and drawings of public infrastructure. The maintenance and repair of city streets, pavements and storm drainage system falls under his department as well.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1458.