The Clewiston City Commission began their Jan. 27 meeting by recognizing the city’s 2013 employees of the year.
Winning employee of the year for general services was Kathy Combass; for the police department, Jackie Garrett; for the public works department, David Reyna; for the utilities department, Jason Crawford; city-wide, David Germany; and Public Works Director Sean Scheffler won director of the year.
After the accolades were awarded, commissioners voted to reappoint Barbara Edmonds and Scott Jones to the Community Redevelopment Advisory Committee. With the commissioners’ motion to approve their reappointment, both Edmonds and Jones will serve another two-year term.
Commissioners were scheduled to discuss the Force Main Project for Airglades Airport at Monday’s meeting, but the agenda item was pulled due to the county needing to discuss the project at their meeting scheduled for Jan. 28.
The Force Main Project, if approved, would connect the city of Clewiston’s sewer line with Airglades Airport, allowing for the expansion of the small hub. The county is interested in pursuing the project as a joint venture with the city, to share the costs of the engineering plans that need to be completed before any grants can be applied for.
As part of the Force Main Project, Commissioners also planned to discuss the possibility of applying for the State Revolving Loan Program, a low-interest loan issued by the state for which Hendry County is already pre-approved. The loan would provide the funds needed to pay for the engineering plans, and if the city approves the county’s request, the city would share the cost of the loan with the county.
An update provided by Public Works Director Sean Scheffler on the city’s future paving projects led to a discussion about road improvements on W.C. Owen, Francisco and Sonora avenues.
Commissioner Mali Gardner commented on the county’s five-year paving plan — which includes paving county-owned Sonora Avenue — saying she would like to see the county include W.C. Owen and Francisco Avenue in their plan. Both roads, she said, are the most-traveled roads in Clewiston and both are in terrible condition.
Mayor Phillip Roland offered to take the issue up with the county and City Manager Al Perry said he would draft a formal request to give to the Mayor to present.
Change in Lock Schedule
At a previous meeting, Mayor Roland asked City Engineer Tommy Perry to discuss changing the lock schedule at the Clewiston locks. Currently, boaters are required to “lock through” when the lake reaches 15.5 feet — a condition that Mayor Roland says unnecessarily deters boaters from using the Clewiston locks.
Mayor Roland would like to see the “lock through” point at 16 feet, and Perry said he would be meeting with the appropriate parties to discuss the changes in the schedule within the next couple of weeks.
If the schedule is changed to begin “lock through” operations at 16 feet, boaters would still be required to “lock through” at night at 15.5 feet. Mayor Roland cited the “wind tide” phenomenon as the necessitating factor. At night, he said, a wind tide can cause the lake to swell over two feet, taking a 16-foot lake to an 18-foot or higher lake within hours.
Commissioner Miller Resigns
Before the meeting adjourned, Commissioner Rick Miller announced that he would be resigning from the city commission effective immediately. Commissioner Miller has served on the commission for eight years. He and his family are moving to Vero Beach, and due to the city’s charter, he cannot serve as commissioner living in Vero Beach.
The regular election to fill Commissioner Miller’s vacant seat will be held in November; in the meantime, commissioners will appoint an interim commissioner to fill the void.
Commissioner James Pittman thanked Commissioner Miller “for being a friend,” and Commissioner Julio Rodriguez joked that if Commissioner Miller ever wanted good Cuban cuisine, he is welcome to stop by Commissioner Rodriguez’s restaurant, Cafe Tropical.
The next City Commission meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. in the Clewiston City Commission Chambers at City Hall. A workshop will precede the regular meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 5 p.m., also in the commission chambers.