Water and Gas issues take center stage at Council Meeting

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By Edna Clark

On Tuesday, July 11, the Town of Van Horn City Council met with all aldermen present and Mayor Pro Temp Pam Young presiding.

Gas Department Manager Edward Torres brought Council up to date on gas line issues including several underground and above ground natural gas leaks inside the town and in the Lobo area.  Three Chispa Road customers in Lobo will be offered alternative energy sources by the City to alleviate gas lines in remote places outside the City limits.

Mr. Torres also reported that there has been a delay in providing gas to Jobe Concrete. According to Torres, during a recent Jobe gas test, gas was increased to 50 psi, the minimum under which the company can operate and they were only able to operate at 25% capacity.  Plans will be drafted for a 4 inch dedicated line, but it is not clear at this point who will pay for this proposed new line.

With better news, Torres advised Council that the sand plant located in the Wildhorse area is moving forward without major issues.  As the sand plant is paying for the natural gas pipelines and meter installation, the City will be able to reap the benefits of the business with little cash outlay.

Water department employee, Jamie Hudson, updated Council on progress on the repairs on the water tank and lines.  Hudson related that the leak in the water tank that was reported on in last week’s Advocate had been sealed by US Underwater, however, small water leaks continue to plague the 40-year-old water tank, which will eventually have to be replaced.  In years past, when underwater divers inspected the water tank, they reported that silt and gravel covered the bottom of the tank, which did not reveal the flaws in the integrity of the water tank.

In case the water tank should fail completely before a new tank is in place, Council approved a pressure zone feasibility study and emergency water storage tank design costing around $40,000.  This study will be used in a worst case scenario for engineers to set up temporary, emergency water tanks to provide water to the area until the permanent water tank is in place and operational.

Hudson told Council that the golf course lagoons that were devised to be a source of water for fairways and greens had been tested by a company from Tyler at a no charge training tool for its affiliates.  Tests revealed that there were no required chemicals and not enough bacterial life in the wastewater to use for watering the golf course.

As to how long it will take to make the lagoon water usable again, Hudson told Council that there was not a quick fix to the problem.  The Tyler testing company will determine the correct chemicals to correct the situation and monitor the pH and bacteria levels to maintain a proper balance.  Cost for this service will be around $2,500, which Ms. Malafronte stated would be less than what is currently being spent for the fresh drinking water used on the greens.

In other matters, Council approved renewal of a contract with Allied Compliance for the City’s drug and alcohol testing program, and voted to continue using TML Multi-State Intergovernmental Employee Benefits Pool as the city’s insurance carrier.  According to Ms. Malafronte, while the City will continue to pay for employees’ premiums, employees are responsible for paying for any of their families’ premiums, which will increase, to $796 per month for family coverage.

Citizen Hunter Chumbley appeared before Council to ask for a variance to complete the construction of an enclosed RV cover located adjacent to his and Mrs. Colleen Chumbley’s home located at 801 Eisenhower Street.

After extensive discussions in public session, consultation with Attorney Steve Mitchell, and a closed executive session for legal advice, Council denied Chumbley’s request for a variance to complete the structure.  Upon advice from Attorney Steve Mitchell, Council refrained from giving Chumbley a specific reason for denial of the variance.

Alderman Lyndon McDonald once again asked Ms. Malafronte to work with El Paso Electric Company to install a streetlight for safety reasons in the alley behind The Advocate office and the Frank Aguilar home on Elm Street.  Alderman Nuny Morris expressed appreciation for the billboard designs presented to Council by Ms. Malafronte.

Scheduling of a special meeting was discussed for Council to meet with Stanley Jobe to determine the specific details of the natural gas pipeline.  Otherwise, the next scheduled city Council meeting is July 25 at 7:00 p.m.  The public is encouraged to attend.