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City receives visit from FEMA, welcomes new deputy

By Sandy Jennings BCC Staff Writer

City of Bandera Administrator Mike Garr announced at the regular city council meeting on Thursday, August 18, that Bandera has qualified for financial assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regarding recent flooding and the multitude of debris left for cleanup.
FEMA’s project manager visited the city on Tuesday, assessing damage and evaluating costs attained by the city in massive debris cleanup contracted out to Republic. Garr stated that the city would receive a 75 percent reimbursement on Republic’s bill.
Garr also reported that Bandera Electric Cooperative has contacted him about changing the lights and fixtures on Main Street and Hwy 173 exiting town to ones of amber hues – a softer light to help achieve goals set forth in the Hill Country Alliance Night Skies initiative.
Night Skies initiative believes that restoring the stars’ brilliance against an unpolluted sky can be accomplished through properly designed and installed outdoor lighting. Simple downlighting and shielding techniques can reduce glare; light trespass, light shining on other properties; and sky glow, hazy, amber or pink sky on cloudy nights, while improving safety, security and the enjoyment of property.
In other business, City Marshal Will Dietrich reported a monthly average 2016 of 12 arrests, 66 traffic stops, 585 security checks, roughly three theft cases, one narcotic related arrest, less than one burglary or criminal mischief.
“Less than one burglary a month is very commendable on their (deputies) part, I wish I could take some credit for it but that's due to them being out at night paying attention to what’s going on,” Dietrich said.
Dietrich reported that since January 1, they have answered 870 calls for service.
When Hannah asked about signs and building code violations, Dietrich responded that Deputy William “Willie” Smith handled 11 code enforcement cases for the month of July, stating, “I’m continuing to keep encouraging Deputy Smith. We’re working on trying to get everybody on compliance as softly as possible.”
Dietrich also introduced Bandera’s newest deputy Amanda Wedgworth, who has been in law enforcement for the past seven years. She has worked as a reserve deputy for Bandera for the past year.
The wife of former Bandera Deputy Michael Wedgworth, she is active in the community. Wedgworth voluntarily mentors the Strong Girl Program at the Boys & Girls Club and serves on the Hill Country Cares Board of Directors.
Prior to the regular meeting, city council hosted a workshop with members of the City of Bandera Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
“I want to thank everyone that was here from the bottom of my heart for such an amazing collaboration,” said Councilman Rebeca Gibson. “I feel like it really exceeded my expectations when I asked for this workshop to happen. We were able to sit down and talk about some issues that really needed to be addressed and prioritize some goals in moving forward. I really believe that we’re going to floor people when they start to see that happen.”
She continued, “The work that we’re about to embark on is really why I wanted to be on this council, so thank you all for the beginnings of that coming to fruition.”
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Hannah commented, “I finally saw a spark that everyone in the room could muddle through the confusion and grasp the master plan – where it can be found and what still needs to be done to it as it is a progressive document.”
Rudi R. Rodriguez of the Polly Texas Pioneer Association requested the transfer of the fountain currently in Western Trail Heritage Park to the Polly Peak Chapel.
“(The chapel) is a Texas landmark and we continue to make improvements on the site,” Rodriguez said. “We just made drainage and road improvements. We’re trying to ensure that not only the building but the grounds are kept in shape to ensure visitors have a good experience.”
After an informative slideshow covering the history of Polly’s legacy and the property now known as Polly Peak Chapel, Rodriguez spoke of the number of visitors each week, stating there’s usually a wedding taking place every weekend.
The council unanimously voted to donate the fountain to Polly’s chapel.
With the donation of the fountain, came EDC’s request again for council to approve and move forward with the purchase of the Remington bronze sculpture for Heritage Park.
Roy Dugosh, chairman of the Bandera County Historical Commission, handed out packets concerning the bronze sculpture, including the overall price for statue and installation of $19, 700.
After hearing from Gibson, who was not in favor of the Remington replica, the council approved EDC’s purchase of the statue. Dugosh predicted it would take eight to 10 weeks before the statue would be installed in Heritage Park.
The next city council meeting is Thursday, Sept. 1. For more information, visit www.cityofbandera.org.