By Mollie LaSalle
WOODVILLE – Woodville City Council held there regular monthly meeting last Tuesday at city hall. The meeting was rescheduled from the regular Monday time slot due to Oct. 9 being a holiday.
Ashleigh Hicks, who is a 911 dispatcher with the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office, spoke to council during the communications with the audience.
Hicks spoke about the tough job tasked to the city’s police officers and asked for an increase in personnel; stating that the department in understaffed in light of recent events.
Hicks spoke of the personal horror she experienced when she received a call that woke her up on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 17, informing her of the fact that Woodville Police Department officer Troy Costello had been shot.
“Each of these officers are part of my family, I have spent 10 years of my life as a 911 operator and police dispatcher. Of all the heart wrenching, nerve-wracking, and panic inducing things I have heard come across the phone or police radio, nothing compares to the call that woke me up on a Sunday morning to hear that one of our own officers had been shot,” she said.
“We ask our officers to be a psychiatrist, a counselor, an addiction specialist, a mediator and an expert in both criminal and civil law. They should be at our door 30 seconds after we call, no matter what the emergency. Woodville PD has not had an increase in staff since 2009. Houston PD has 22 officers for every 10,000 people, by ratio, for the 15,000 people that pass through Woodville on a daily basis, we should have 33 officers; we have one.”
Hicks implored council to give the police department a personnel increase. “Show them that their safety is as important to you, as yours is to them,” she said.
On the consent agenda, the council approved a lease agreement with the city to lease the offices at 408 West Bluff to house city offices and municipal court so the renovations of city hall can continue. The agreement began Oct. 1, and all city personnel have until Oct. 23 to be moved into the new building. Renovations are expected to be complete in 180 days. Council meeting will be moved to the fire station, beginning in November.
The city will soon have another garbage truck, courtesy of Local Sanitation. James Broussard submitted the lowest bid, $155,000 for a 2021 truck with 52,000 miles on it. Council approved the purchase, and the city will soon have another truck.
Several events are upcoming. The Harvest Festival takes place this weekend at Heritage Village, and Kim Cruse will perform on the festival stage Saturday at 3 p.m. There will be a Fall Festival at the hospital, Thursday, Oct. 19, from 5-7, the city will have its annual Red Ribbon parade, Monday, Oct. 30, and also a Trunk or Treat on Oct. 31 at the Intermediate school, from 8:45-10:45 a.m.