Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Guest Column: 2018 State of the City

As one year ends and a new one begins, we often reflect about the past as well as anticipate the future. And just as we contemplate our personal lives, those of us connected to the City do likewise as we look upon new developments in Clarendon and plan for future improvements.

Although we have lost one restaurant this past year, we are now enjoying relatively new businesses such as the Whistle-Stop and its associated Bar & Grill, Jinda Cafe, the Buckin Bean, the Family Dollar, Stocking Ice Cream Parlor, Garrison’s Convenience Store, the Broken Road Jr. package store, and Shonda’s Snack Shack. And soon to come is the opening of a Donut Shop and a new Allsup’s car and truck convenience center.

Mayor Sandy Skelton

Allsup’s is investing $2,600,000 in our community to build a 4,800 square feet structure with Austin Stone exterior walls on all sides, 20 auto fueling positions under canopy, a separate four lane truck fueling island and concrete parking and drives over the entire 2.67 acres. The City will be erecting signs indicating that no large truck traffic will be allowed on Third Street or the streets leading to Third Street. The business will employ between 15 – 20 people.

As we recognize these new businesses, we must also acknowledge our long-time businesses and their enduring commitment to provide goods and services to the citizens of Clarendon. These business owners are truly invested in our town and are greatly appreciated. Shopping locally is a win-win for all of us.

The City is currently working with USDA to get the long-awaited water infrastructure project off high center. We have experienced unexpected delays, but the City should go out for bids in the next two months for replacement of several miles of old cast-iron distribution lines throughout the city, an elevated water storage tank to replace the non-functional stand-pipe on the East side of town, and the replacement of over 700 water meters with computerized automatic meter readers.

The two-year project will be financed with a $1,387,000 grant (no payback) and a 40-year loan in the amount of $2,522,000 to be paid back with the $10 increase in customer water fees which became effective over a year ago. This project represents an inexpensive return on investment to improve the capacity and quality of water throughout our community (some residents still have low water pressure and rusty water). Unfortunately, these improvements must be made before we can begin a new street paving project.

Identifying unsafe and unsightly houses/buildings and their eventual demolition is a high priority for the City Council. A demolition pit is currently being completed in compliance with state requirements, and the City will begin the demolition process in early 2018 contingent upon the cooperation of property owners and available funds.

Regarding recreational improvements and quality of life issues, the Economic Development Corporation and City Council are moving forward with the renovation of the Mulkey Theatre and the building of a public swimming pool. The Mulkey and the pool projects are being financed with private donations, grants and a loan to be paid back with future sales tax and Hotel Occupancy Tax revenues.

It should be pointed out that funding of the loan will have no bearing on the City’s budget, including future street paving, as it will be repaid exclusively with EDC’s future sales tax revenue and the city’s future hotel tax revenue. Additionally, the EDC will still have sales tax revenue left over to fund other local projects, and there are still hotel tax funds left over to continue to promote the City.

The pool idea originated from a $500,000 challenge grant from an anonymous donor and, to date, not only have we matched the grant, we have raised another $260,000 from private donations (individuals, businesses, ranches, grants, etc.). And the City recently submitted a $500,000 grant to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and will submit a $150,000 grant to the Amarillo Area Foundation in March. As of January 1, 2018, the total amount raised is $1,260,000 with the $650,000 in grant funds referenced above still very hopeful. The goal is to raise as close to $2,000,000 as possible. The more money raised, the nicer the pool will be.

In a small community like Clarendon, we must be thoughtful, forward thinking and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. We are fortunate to have David Dockery as our City Administrator. His knowledge of complex city issues and his many years of experience have enabled the City to make numerous improvements. He is well liked and respected by City employees and the overall morale is positive. We have a great group of employees who work hard to improve our city and to take care of emergencies when they occur. Your City Council, consisting of the Mayor and five Aldermen (Larry Jeffers, Beverly Burrow, John Lockhart, Nathan Floyd and Jacob Fangman), meet twice monthly to conduct city business and the public is encouraged to attend meetings whenever possible.

On behalf of all city employees and the City Council, I want to express appreciation to our citizens for supporting the city work that is being done each day and for making Clarendon a truly nice place to live. Happy New Year to all!

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