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Henderson City Council held an early meeting Tuesday afternoon to consider a packed agenda to include the sad resignation of District 5 Councilmember Steve Higginbotham. 

Hayden Ray, UTHealth-Henderson’s EMS Regional Director introduced himself to the council. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jay [Abercrombie, City Manager] for a few years now, back in the big city of Bullard, so I look forward to working y’all as well. Any questions or concerns any of you might have please reach out to me day or night.”

Henderson Mayor Buzz Fullen regaled meeting attendees with a moment of kind reflection on what 2021 looked like for the City of Henderson. 

“We went through a rough and hard time in 2020 facing this pandemic and we’re still trying to get over it this year. We did succeed in doing so, somewhat,” said Fullen of the woes of the previous years. “We’re more relaxed. We did get by, and we did quite well. Our sales tax maintained itself, and we’ve done well. We’re hoping for a good 2022.” 

Council moved on its sad business of considering the acceptance of the letter of resignation of councilmember and pillar of the community, Steve Higginbotham. While Higginbotham, and his equally civic-minded wife Ceil, have already abandoned Henderson life for the joy of proximity to their beloved grandchildren, the council woefully accepted his resignation. “While I don’t fault him for wanting to be closer to his grandkids, I begrudgingly second the motion to accept the resignation of Steve Higginbotham,” said Councilmember Michael Searcy. 

Citizens can apply for this open District 5 seat until December 31 and interviews are expected to begin on January 5, 2022. A special called meeting will be held on January 7, at noon, to swear in the chosen candidate. An interactive map of council districts can be found at https://www.hendersontx.us/1384/Council-Members. 

The council unanimously approved the selection of the Kimley-Horn consulting firm to design a Comprehensive Plan and authorized contract negotiations with the firm. This plan will be a 20–30-year plan to be used as a guide for land use, public facilities, and many other aspects of our City’s future development. 

Along with Mayor Fullen, Mayor Pro Tem Henry Pace, John Clary, Davis Brown, and Abercrombie, the interviewing and selection panel spent time with each firm, roughly two hours apiece, and determined that the best fit for the city would be the group at Kimley-Horn. 

“We had two different firms submit their qualifications to us,” said City Manager Jay Abercrombie. “in the long-run we’d have done well with either choice but through the selection committee’s process of elimination we chose Kimley-Horn .”

“Both firms would have been solid with what they brought to the table as qualifications,” said Abercrombie. 

The council heard the second reading of Ordinance 2021-11-01 which officially changes the name of Webster Drive to Martin Luther King Drive and moved unanimously to approve the ordinance. “This has been a long time coming,” said councilmember Searcy. 

They also heard the second reading of an ordinance providing exclusivity of detached containers, or dumpsters, with Republic Services, Henderson’s chosen solid waste collection company. Newly elected councilmember Wes Breitenberg recused himself from the following vote to accept Ordinance 2021-11-02 granting the requested exclusivity. The motion did pass with all other available council members voting aye. 

City of Henderson’s Community Development Manager, Billy Hughes came before the council requesting an amendment to the text of an ordinance found in Article 2, Section 2.31 by adding Club or Lodge to the list of Special Exception uses. Hughes explained that the local VFW branch recently purchased property intended to be their new meeting hall and canteen and would, as with their much larger meeting hall on Whippoorwill, be their only means of raising funds to support the VFW and our area veterans. The property lies in a Low-Intensity Industrial zone and would need the changes to function in the manner they intend. The council quickly moved to accept the changes. 

Henderson Police Department Chief, Chad Taylor came before the council asking to accept a 25% matching grant which would allow HPD to purchase 16 new body cameras, to replace those beyond repair, and to allow for a small stockpile in cases of emergencies. Taylor also discussed an agreement with Henderson Independent School District to share in the purchase of two more vehicles to be used by the School Resource Officers. HISD has agreed to pay 75% of the cost for the SRO vehicle and equipment with the 25% covered by HPD coming from the department’s use of the officers during the summer months. 

Council voted unanimously to accept both propositions. 

Council considered a long presentation from Performance Services of Texas, Inc. (PSI) to upgrade the city’s water meter system to a much more accurate digital reading system and to change all city lighting to significantly cheaper LED systems for immediate savings on electrical costs. The meter upgrades stand to earn the city more than $3 million over the contracted period. 

Contract considerations will begin soon as the council voted unanimously to accept the company’s proposal. 

Before final approvals of departmental records and meeting minutes, the council voted unanimously to amend the Master Fee Schedule to include a 3.7% increase across the board for Solid Waste management. 

 

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