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The first Atoka City Council meeting of July was held Monday, July 6, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. Meetings are held the first and third Monday of each month.
In attendance for the meeting were Mayor Brian Cathey, Vice-Mayor Diane McGee, Councilmembers Coby Sherrill and Erica Pogue, Interim City Manager Joye Angel, Deputy City Clerk Phyllis Bates, Atoka City Industrial Development Authority (ACIDA) Director Carol Ervin, and City Attorney Pat Phelps.
Councilmembers soldiered on through multiple technical difficulties to approve the Interim City Manager’s report and the blanket purchases.
Jan Cochran has been appointed to the Southern Oklahoma Library System Board of Trustees. Tara Huddleston’s three year term was complete and she will be replaced by Cochran.
The Council approved payment to American Road Maintenance and Electric Power Solutions, LLC for their work on the Atoka City Airport.
American Road Maintenance laid crack and seal repair on the runway tarmac. The funds from a grant provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) paid for the updates, however the city has a 10% match for the grant. The 10% match owed by the city is $19,095.54.
Electric Power Solutions, LLC, installed the medium intensity runway light system (MIRLS), and precision approach path indicator (PAPI). Paid for by a grant from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC) with a 5% match from the city. The 5% match owed by the city is $9,749.00.
Due to the recent rainy weather, Electric Power Solutions, LLC, extended their contract with the city. This will not have an influence on the price as it will stay the same. The contract updates add 20 days to the work order bringing the total to 60 days.
Ed Eastwood brought the need for a speed bump to be installed on West Ninth Street to the Interim City Manager Joye Angel’s attention.
Angel advised the council she had spoken to the police department about speeding in the area. While the police department stated there was not an uptake in speeders in that area, Councilwoman Pogue asked the city not to install the pre-made speed bumps.
The issue has been tabled until a comparison of cost can be provided to the councilmembers.
Atoka City Industrial Development Authority Director Carol Ervin was asked to advise the council about adding signage to the red light at the intersection of Court Street and Highway 69.
Ervin explained that while the signs displaying Atoka’s historic downtown would be ideal, without more information from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation on how the signs could be hung, she could not suggest approving them.
Architectural drawings for the plans to update the Downtown area should be available by August 31, 2020, with the roll out planned in September. The council agreed to table the topic until the artist renderings are completed.
Two condemned properties will be coming down in the near future. Mayor Brian Cathey brought the topic before the council. Cathey reminded members that the homes have been condemned for 10 or more years, but have yet to be demolished. The council approved the measure to seek bids for demolition.
The Atoka City Council will swear in its newest member, Pat Turner, on Monday, July 20, 2020. Once Turner has accepted his new role over Ward #2 the council will begin interviews for City Manager.
Interviews have been scheduled for Tuesday, July 21, 2020, beginning at 5:00 p.m. and a roll-over date of Thursday, July 23. The councilmembers will look through the 34 applications they received and select candidates for interviewing.
Travis Mullins has been named the new Assist Director of Emergency Management for the City of Atoka.
The first payment for the new automatic read water meters was approved. The payment was 100% funded through the loan provided by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.
Things got a little tense when Vice-Mayor Diane McGee expressed a need for a social media policy for councilmembers and city workers.
McGee explained that she was approached by a citizen concerning a facebook post regarding pool construction. While she explained the information was incorrect and that the City had not discussed building a pool the citizen left the conversation angry.
“With these posts its like councilmembers going against one another,” McGee expressed. “I don’t have social media…I didn’t see the post.”
Councilmember Coby Sherrill spoke up to address the statement as it was his post on Facebook that caused the concern. Sherrill explained that he did not say the City would be building a pool, but quite the opposite.
McGee offered to provide members with a sample of the new policy after City Attorney Pat Phelps stated, “A restriction for councilmembers was not possible.” Due to technical difficulties the agenda item was tabled.
City Attorney Pat Phelps’ contract for retainer was on the agenda that evening which lead to a heated discussion between the councilmembers. After reading the terms Councilwoman Pogue wished for the City to seek bids from other lawyers.
Phelps’ retainer fees are $2,000 per month additional fees may apply. Some of his duties include: providing legal advice, attendance at meetings, available for telephone consultation, preparing ordinances or resolutions, and representing the City during litigation.
Pogue questioned the payment for Phelps, stating the council did not pay the former attorney as much.
Mayor Cathey reminded Pogue of the issues the city had with the former city attorney.
While the approval or rejection of the contract was tabled, Phelps’ reminded the council that he has been employed by the city since March 17, 2020, and has not received payment for his services.
“I have nothing to sell but my time,” Phelps said. The council assured Phelps he would be compensated for his work thus far.