At the start of their regular meeting on June 16, Clewiston City Commissioners recognized Pastor John Hicks and his wife, Kathy Hicks, for their 12 years of outstanding service, ministry and commitment to the community. Pastor Hicks and his wife will be leaving on July 1 to minister in Monticello, Fla.
Pastor Hicks served as pastor for First United Methodist Church in Clewiston, as well as president of Clewiston’s Ministerial Association.
“Not only were you First United Church’s pastor, you were the community’s pastor,” said Commissioner Mali Gardner. “Clewiston is a better place for your influence and for your bringing together the area’s churches.”
Addressing the commission, Pastor Hicks said God never limits Himself to one individual in leadership and he would be answering the call to minister after 12 years serving the community of Clewiston.
“A little over 12 years ago, I found out I was coming to Clewiston. I had to look it up on a map to find it. Little did I know what God had in store for me. We’ve just come to love the community and the people and every part about it,” said Pastor Hicks, before revealing that the Ministerial Association had nominated a new president. “I have the honor tonight to share with you that the ministers and the community have gotten together and asked somebody if they would serve as the new president of the Ministerial Association. And after prayer, Pastor Alan Koch, of Faith Lutheran Church, has accepted that position.”
Pastor Alan Koch then chimed in to inform the community that although his last name rhymes with cook, he is not as good of a cook as Pastor Hicks.
Commissioners then dove into their regular meeting agenda, which began with a recommendation by City Engineer Tommy Perry for commissioners not to accept bids for new air conditioning units at the John Boy Auditorium. The John Boy has been operating for several months without proper air conditioning. At a previous commission meeting, Perry was asked to send out bid requests to replace the air conditioning units.
Perry came back with two bids, one at $44,984 and the other at $78.617. Perry explained that the bids could not be compared side by side, as one of the contractors removed a portion of the requested work from their bid. Perry also said the bid amounts were considerably higher than what he had been anticipating and suggested the commission reject the bids and look for alternative ways to address the air conditioning problems, like repairing the old units again.
Commissioner Julio Rodriguez was concerned about renting the John Boy out in the summer months without air conditioning, and Mayor Phillip Roland said he feared repairing the units would perpetuate old problems, as the air conditioners have been repaired numerous times over their 30-year lifetime.
Perry did say that a bid offered through a state contract was written in such a way that the total cost could be deciphered as the cost for two units, instead of one — which Perry believes was the state contractor’s intention. Commissioner Kristine Petersen asked Perry to work on finding out whether it could be deciphered as two units before he stepped down from the podium.
Commissioners voted 4-0 to reject the bids. Commissioner James Pittman was not present at the meeting.
Next, commissioners discussed a possible contract with Johnson Engineering to recycle the water the is used at the city’s splash park, located next to the city pool.
Commissioners were informed that the city is spending roughly $2,000 per month for water at the park, due in part to issues with the timers that control the water flow.
Recreation Director Lance Ramer told commissioners that electrical storms can sometimes throw off the timers, which are set to allow water flow between the hours of 8 a.m and 8 p.m., and that kids using the spray park will often put objects in the timers to keep them from turning off.
The spray park is used nearly every day by the community, and used about 750,000 gallons of water last month. Commissioner Rodriguez suggested the water park be shut down until the city addresses the problem, because it can’t afford to pay such a high-priced bill, he said.
Mayor Roland was confident that the water could be recycled, and commissioners voted 4-0 to move forward with the Johnson Engineering contract, which is not to exceed a cost of $5,000.
Commissioners then discussed a second problem the city is facing, which is the main lift station behind the Public Works Department on Olympia Avenue.
The lift station, according to officials, is beyond its lifetime. Utilities Director Danny Williams said the lift station is a “time bomb” and will need to be replaced. It could cost around $670,000 to replace it, but the city may be qualified for low-interest loans to borrow the money needed.
Commissioners voted 4-0 to apply for the low-interest grant, with the fee not to exceed $17,000.