City workers praised in winter storm’s wake

Elected officials and staff laud performances that kept city safe during crisis

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
A worker shoves snow and ice off the sidewalk in front of the Waxahachie Civic Center during last week's winter storm. The City Council had lots of praise for its employees who worked tirelessly to keep the city safe.

During Monday night’s meeting, the Waxahachie City Council and city staff had plenty of praise for city workers who toiled non-stop through last week’s historic winter storm to keep residents safe.

Mayor David Hill lauded city manager Michael Scott for overseeing the city’s efforts to weather the storm.

“When we say we’re proud of our staff, it’s an understatement,” Hill said. “It starts off with Michael. He’s been able to put together a staff that’s well-oiled and well-educated, and some of the best people you ever want to work with.”

Hill also praised Waxahachie police chief Wade Goolsby and fire chief Ricky Boyd for their departments’ performance during the crisis.

Scott thanked public works and utilities for keeping the city’s water system operational and streets safe. While numerous cities throughout the state of Texas suffered complete loss of water because of electricity blackouts and burst water mains, Waxahachie’s water system remained in full service throughout.

“It’s a testament to our amazing team, the way they stepped up without complaining in frigid cold temperatures, fixing water lines and turning off water for customers,” Scott said. “The streets department was out taking ice off of sidewalks to make it safe, and coordinated with TxDOT to get the streets passable. We’ve got an amazing team, and challenges like this allow them to step up and you can see the caliber of folks that you have on your team.”

Police and fire worked non-stop through the winter event, as well as other city departments.

“This past week when we had our office doors closed, we still had public works, utilities, police and fire all coming in and working double shifts,” assistant city manager Albert Lawrence said. “We had people from parks and the Civic Center who still had to come in and … make sure critical things were operating. Even though our doors may have been closed, we had a significant number of city employees who still had to come in and brave the weather.”

Not only did city workers step up in the storm, so did the community. Churches opened their doors to allow people to stay warm and residents opened their homes for one another.

“It shows what an amazing community we have in Waxahachie,” councilmember Melissa Olson said. “It was really moving, the outpouring of love that was shown in our community. I’m proud to call Waxahachie home, but more than that, I’m grateful that I get to call it home. It as a hard week, but it was a really good week in a way.”

Other items

• The consent agenda consisted of approval of previous minutes, budget amendments, acceptance of the fiscal year 2021 first-quarter report, and an event application for the Spring Fling Barrel Race Rodeo to be held in March.

• The council approved a zoning change at 200 Peters Street to allow for the construction of a duplex.

• The purchase of odor abatement equipment for the Grove Creek lift station was approved.

• Councilmembers voted to engage Verdunity to complete the city’s comprehensive and thoroughfare plans. City planning director Shon Brooks said the plans were revised in 2007 and updated in 2016, and so a new analysis of the city is needed. Brooks said the process should take between 12 and 15 months.

• Steele & Freeman, Inc. of Fort Worth was approved as the construction manager at risk for the City Hall Annex project.

• Mayor Hill gave an update on COVID-19 vaccinations at the Ellis County hub at the Senior Center. Hill said about 10,000 vaccinations have already been administered, and praised the hub’s workers for its efficiency.

• Following an executive session, the council took no action.