City Council mourns secretary’s passing

Elected officials and staff eulogize Lori Cartwright at Monday night’s meeting

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
Lori Cartwright

With heavy hearts following the passing of the city’s longtime former secretary, the Waxahachie City Council carried on the city’s business during Monday night’s meeting by unanimously approving the issuance of $43.3 million in bonds.

The council memorialized Lori Cartwright, who lost a courageous battle with illness on Sunday. Cartwright had served the city since 1999, the last 14 years as city secretary, but retired in June as her health declined. The council held a moment of silence at the beginning of the meeting.

“Lori was a unique individual,” Mayor Doug Barnes said. “If you had a hard day and things weren’t going right, all you had to do was go into the secretary’s office and Lori would lift you up. She had that unusual characteristic of caring, of showing compassion and loving individuals that she worked with. She battled this disease for a long, long time.”

Staff and councilmembers expressed their condolences to Cartwright’s family.

“She was definitely a big part of the city and the city is a family,” councilmember Melissa Olson said. “Even though I’ve been on the council three or four years, it’s a family here and her loss is greatly felt.”

Added councilmember and former mayor David Hill: “She’s in a better place than we are, and one day we will see her.”

A celebration of life will be held on Thursday, which would have been Cartwright's 61st birthday, at 11 a.m. at the Burckhalter-Highsmith Chapel in her hometown of Vinita, Okla. Interment will follow at the McLaughlin Cemetery near Cleora, Okla. Arrangements are under the care of the Burckhalter-Highsmith Funeral and Cremation Services of Vinita.

Monday night's City Council meeting was the last for assistant city manager Tommy Ludwig, who has accepted the deputy city manager position in Burleson. Ludwig’s last day with Waxahachie will be Friday and staff and councilmembers all wished Ludwig well.

“To say it’s been an honor and a privilege is an understatement,” Ludwig said. “I’ve loved every minute that I’ve been here. I’ve never worked for a city manager as great as Michael (Scott). The level of support that staff has received from council has been fantastic. I can’t say enough about the team of people that work here.”

A large number of city improvement projects will soon be swinging into action with the passage of the bond issue.

City finance director Chad Tustison said the item is a culmination of a number of meetings to secure funding for a total of 25 projects. The majority of both the funds and projects concern water and wastewater improvements. Tustison said the interest on the bonds stands at 1.89 percent and the city’s credit rating has been upgraded by both Standard & Poor and Moody’s.

Besides utilities, the bond includes $7.5 million set aside for new development and building of the city hall annex, $6.1 million for construction of Fire Station No. 4 and an engine for the station, $4.1 million in street improvements, and $1.5 million in parks improvements.

Other items

• The approved consent agenda consisted of previous meeting minutes, and event applications for the Spook Out Homelessness Fun Run/Walk to be held Oct. 30 and the SAGU Half Marathon to be held Feb. 5, 2022.

• A zoning change request from a Planned Development-General Retail to Planned Development-Multiple Family-2 at 809 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard was continued to the next City Council meeting Aug. 16. Also, an SUP request for heavy machinery rental or sales in a Commercial zone at 1313 North Interstate 35E was continued to the Sept. 7 meeting.

• A specific-use permit for an accessory dwelling unit at 605 West Main Street was approved. A garage at that location is being converted into a “mother-in-law” suite with a studio on the second floor. Staff recommendations stated that the applicant must apply for a building permit and that the accessory building may not be used by a non-family member (i.e. rented, leased or sold).

• An SUP was approved for a 12-foot-tall monument sign at the St. Paul Episcopal Church at 624 Ovilla Road. The proposed sign has a 4-foot-by-8-foot LED message board that is single-sided, and replaces a previously-proposed pole sign. The vote to approve was 4-0 with councilmember Travis Smith abstaining.

• City director of planning Shon Brooks reminded the council of a Comprehensive Plan Committee meeting next Monday night.