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  • Council set on cleaning up the town

    coldspringcityFILE PHOTO Coldspring town hall sign

    By Tony Farkas

    COLDSPRING — The Coldspring City Council is making bold moves to clean up the city.

    At its regular meeting on May 3, council members approved starting the process to have the property owners of three properties within the city remedy the violations of the city’s nuisance law.

    According to Mayor Pat Eversole, one property is an abandoned home on Slade Street, and the city has received complaints from neighbors about it being an eyesore and dangerous.

    The remaining two, both on Highway 150, are vacant and full of parked cars and litter, Eversole said.

    The properties and complaints have been turned over to the city’s attorney to start the process for remediation, and the for the attorney to contact the landowners.

    In other business, the council:

    • discussed a draft ordinance to ban private and civil helicopters landing within the city limits, which will come up for approval at the next council meeting;
    • discussed a planned ballpark expansion, and the council’s hope to find some additional property to expand the Dixie Youth Park fields and construct another entrance. Also, portable toilets with handicapped access were ordered for placement at the park;
    • approved the repair of a sewer line that had been damaged by a vehicle; and
    • tabled a discussion about removing an ADA-compliant handrail section on the town square at the intersection of Highway 150 at Church Street for further discussion.

    The Coldspring City Council meets the first Monday of every month, beginning at 7 p.m. at Coldspring City Hall.

  • Hearing scheduled for Woodville motel

    Willis MotelCHRIS EDWARDS | TCB Willis Motel in Woodville, Texas

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – A motel that is said to be more than 75 years old is the subject of concerns by the city of Woodville.

    The Willis Motel, which was the location of a fire in late 2019, is the topic of a hearing set for Monday, April 26. The City Council will meet in the capacity as the city’s Building Standards Commission and give consideration to the condition of the facility and what action(s) should be taken.

    The city has compelled the owner to attend the upcoming hearing to “show cause why [the motel] should not be ordered vacated, secured, repaired or demolished.”

    The Willis Motel, known to many locals simply as “The Willis,” or “The W,” has long been in operation in Woodville. City Administrator Mandy Risinger said the motel’s owner said at a previous hearing that it was more than 75 years old. A file on the motel from the Better Business Bureau indicates that it has been in operation as the Willis Motel since at least Jan. 1, 1978.

    Risinger said that the fire marshal investigated the Willis after the fire and requested that the city’s building inspector come and assess things.

    The pandemic hampered the city’s ability to work on cases of dilapidated structures last year, and also, Risinger said, the fire marshal, Chuck Marshall, died last year and there was no documentation that the Willis’s owner had resolved any of the issues.

    Risinger said that at a recent hearing, held on March 29, the owner was under the impression that all of the issues had been resolved.

    The Jasper fire marshal, whom the city is contracting, re-inspected the property, Risinger said, and found issues to be addressed, which the owner began working on. Additionally, the fire marshal requested the city’s building inspector and health inspector look into the facility.

    Risinger said the city has also received a number of complaints from residents of the motel as well as charitable organizations who have used the facility to put people up. She said the owner is compiling a list of livable rooms to present to the Building Standards Commission and has to provide a plan for addressing all of the existing issues and a timeline.

    Public records show an LLC, Vaishvi, as owning the Willis Motel. The Secretary of State’s office lists a Dipesh Lad as the principal with Vaishvi.

    For the coming hearing, the council is sitting as the Building Standards Commission. Under the city’s by-laws, they can either appoint one or serve as the commission themselves. They will choose how to move forward with the owner and the facility, and can give the owner 30 days to address the issues. If they give him more than 90 days, Risinger said, a detailed timeline is required.

    Progress reports on the work will also be required. At present, Risinger said the owner is supposed to be getting estimates on how to bring the problem parts of the property up to code.

    Risinger said it stands to reason that the property would need continual maintenance and upgrades over time, and that typically in the motel industry, as well as with most commercial property, major overhauls usually take place.

  • Trinity City Council taking it to the streets

    trinity txFILE PHOTO Trinity, TX

    By Tony Farkas

    TRINITY — The Trinity City Council will be looking into some financing to resurface a few roads.

    At its regular meeting on Thursday, the council authorized seeking $500,000 to chip seal roads.

    Council Member Bubba Smith said that he had a problem with getting money without having a clear purpose; however, Mayor Wayne Huffman said the loan would not be signed until the city determined what roads were in most need of repair.

    Huffman said there will be a work session at a later date to decide the order, and all council members will have input.

    The Economic Development Board initially planned to loan the city the funds at 1.5 percent interest, but it was later determined that might not be legal. Huffman said then they will seek the funds from the bank, but will need to negotiate a lower interest rate than 4 percent.

    During the public forum, Smith said he has been receiving complaints about certain properties that are cluttered with junk and have become eyesores, particularly a property near the intersection of Church and Elm streets.

    Smith said the mess was bad enough that if anyone were to park in the roadway across the street, all traffic would be blocked.

    Council Member Clegg DeWalt expressed frustration, saying he has tried for years to get something done.

    However, Jones, who also serves as police chief, said that in the past when he went to enforce the city’s nuisance ordinances, he was stopped by the city council. He also said the resident of the house in question has been approached many times and nothing has come of it.

    Jones also said that he would begin enforcing the ordinances, but it will need to be done across the board.

    In other business, the council:

    • approved an order certifying that all city candidates were unopposed in the May 1 election;
    • approved an order cancelling the May 1 city election;
    • approved the annual Racial Profiling Report for the Police Department;
    • approved a request from the city’s Economic Development Board to loan $20,000 to the city for a July 4 celebration; and
    • approved an application for a $500,000 grant through the Texas Community Development Block Grant program for water system improvements.