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2013-02-07

Despite council,EDC now up to speed

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Members of the City of Bandera Economic Development Corporation approved filling available seats on the board of directors during a Jan. 9 meeting - only to be second-guessed by city council the following evening.
After reviewing applications, EDC Chairman Johnny Boyle and members Binky Archer, Carolyn Edwards, Esther Maldonado and Charlie Fellows unanimously welcomed former city Councilman Lynn Palmer and self-described "newbie" Martha Shoemaker to the table. Archer and Fellows were also approved for second two-year terms.
When interviewed, Palmer said she wanted Bandera to create a favorable business environment to increase employment opportunities. "We need to control what comes in here to ensure new businesses would be successful," she said.
While she also advocated "keeping Bandera western for the tourist trade," Palmer opined that she believed the city needs to be cleaned up.
"Right now City Park is gorgeous, but it needs more development," she noted. "It needs a playground."
A resident of Flying L, Shoemaker moved from Beaumont to Bandera in 2008 at the behest of Hurricane Ike. Her skills sets that may prove useful include 17 years as a mediator at the Jeffers County Dispute Center, as well as serving on the Flying L Property Owners Association and revising the subdivision bylaws and covenant.
While Shoemaker believed City Park was one of the municipality's most beautiful assets, she also felt it could be improved by the addition of amenities such as walking trails.
"Standing still is stagnation. There is always room for improvement," Shoemaker said.
Other people who had submitted applications for the EDC included former Mayor Denise Griffin and former Councilman Phillip Acton, who did not attend the meeting.
Since EDC members are subject to approval by city council, Boyle submitted his recommendations to the council for ratification.
Providing all the approved members were eligible, council would normally follow the recommendations of the EDC president. Not so, in this case. First all the applications were scrutinized, but no fault could be found with the newly approved Palmer and Shoemaker.
Then Mayor Pro Tem John Hegemier thought it inappropriate that Archer, as a councilman, should also serve in EDC. "It's just my opinion," he said. It is unclear whether he expressed this opinion when former mayor the late Horst Pallaske and one-time Councilman Monica Halsey served previously on the EDC.
Archer, in turn, pointed out that state statutes allow three councilmen to serve but in Bandera, it "has been reduced to a single councilman."
Councilman Maggie Schumacher suggested Archer serve as council's liaison with EDC.
To a question from Councilman Jim Hannah about whether she would recuse herself from council decisions on EDC, Archer said, "Yes, if required."
Additionally, a city resident felt that both Archer and Fellows should not be confirmed for second two-year terms, urging council to "think about (other) citizens who have applied to be on the EDC."
Taking umbrage that Archer would be forced to resign from EDC, Councilman Brandi Morgan said, "It is not fair to ask her to do that. Because of the former make-up of the EDC, Binky was not able to pursue the projects she was interested in. This is a new avenue for her to show the city what she can do from this time forward."
Ironically, the citizen was one of the most vociferous supporters of allowing EDC directors who were found to have been serving illegally, i.e., much longer than the allowable six consecutive years, to continue their terms through December 2012. In fact, during previous acrimonious exchanges, the citizen had asked repeatedly, "What's the rush to replace them?"
Hegemier had also favored extending the terms of the former EDC members.
Longtime EDC members who were finally replaced in September included Joe Hearn, who had served 13 years; Mayor Don Clark, 15 years, Vonia Dyer, 11 years; and Linda James, eight years. Prior to resigning in May, Pallaske had also served 15 years.
State statutes - and recently adopted bylaws governing the Bandera County EDC - limit terms to six consecutive years. Former Municipal Attorney Barbara Boulware-Wells assisted with revising corporation's bylaws to bring the local EDC in line with state laws.
After the discussions ended, council approved Boyle's recommendations, especially after Palmer pointed out that since Boyle was "new to the position," he relished the idea of having board members with some experience.
In related business, council also accepted the resignations of Tony Battle and Joe Davis from EDC.