The Jacksboro City Council gathered for a scheduled meeting Tuesday evening at the city hall. In what can only be described as a “spirited” discussion the city, the council and 2 of the city’s residents faced off over possible abatements that the city has been considering. In the first case, involving the property of Marchelle Workman, the conversation was intense. According to Workman, the city has been harassing her over the home that she lost because of a fire. Workman states the home was destroyed because of the neglect of the city. According to Workman, the fire hydrant located near the property wasn’t working, but both the city and the fire department deny the allegation.
According to City Manager, Mike Smith, the story is a bit different. Smith gave an account of the situation during the meeting. Smith reported that the city “has been generous in allowing extra time for Ms. Workman to get the property cleaned up, and had even assisted in getting a dumpster to the property in order for her to remove debris. The dumpster was supposed to be there a week, but ended up there for a month. When the dumpster was picked up it was only 1/4 full”. (Ms. Workman denied the statement, saying it was completely filled). The city also allowed her to stay on the property for 60 days in a trailer, “which is not the usual practice”. Smith stated to the council “We have gone above and beyond to try to work with Ms. Workman.”
During her presentation, Ms Workman stated that the fire hydrant located near her home didn’t work. Sources at the scene tell a different story. Smith stated “All hydrants are flow tested annually. The hydrant in question performed as it was supposed to”. According sources at the fire “The ladder truck that was used requires significant water flow. We stretched to a second hydrant for water supply. That hydrant had an issue, so we stretched another section of LDH to another hydrant. They never lost flow, and there was only a small delay on the big water supply. It never interfered with water supression”. The fire started when trash was set on fire in a 55 gallon drum. The drum (barrel) was on the back porch, which caught on fire and spread to the home. The fire destroyed the home and, according to Workman, it took away her income and destroyed all of her possessions and personal belongings.
Workman was given an additional 30 days to get the debris cleaned up. At that time the council will re-visit the issue. Workman strongly requested they send someone other than the Code Enforcement Officer to document progress. Insisting the officer was harassing her, she pleaded to the council, who denied her request. A disappointed Workman was urged to find other sources of housing as well. Council member Brian Isbell advised “Continue cleaning up the debris around the house and property. I am willing to vote for more time, but can not allow for you to break the law”. Councilman Gary Oliver stated “I’m also okay working with you as long as you work with us”.
Workman discussed (when asked of future plans) a grant to assist her in rebuilding. The grant, called the Rural Area Grant (according to Workman) is federally funded. Isbell inquired to the time frame involved, to which Workman did not have the information with her.
The council also met on the abatement(s) of 3 other homes in the city. Only one other home owner was present to discuss the removal of dangerous debris on their property. Located on Brook Street, the property has several buildings located on it. Owned by the Sanders family, the property has seen a great deal of vandalism and theft. A double wide mobile home is the only dwelling left salvageable. Ms Sanders has agreed to allow the Inspector inside the home in order to assess what needs done to get the mobile home up to code.
The council voted to abate the properties of 417 N. Bowie Street and 301 W. Archer Street. Both properties have been abandoned for quite some time, with no response from homeowners.
On a lighter note, the council heard about a new program that has been started by the Jacksboro Police Department. The “Community Policing” Program will connect the officers and department with the families that reside in different areas of town. Divided into 6 “sectors”, each officer will be assigned a sector of their own. Officers will help the residents of their sector when needed, as well as meet with them on a personal level. One plan is for the officers to meet the residents for “Coffee with a Cop”. City Manager Mike Smith reported that all of the Jacksboro Police Department was 100% on board with the program.
In addition to the “Community Policing Program”, the council discussed the possibility of building a number of local city parks, to be located around the city for ease of access for those living in the area. The council will be looking into aquiring property from the community to use for the parks. A “Park Board” is being considered. The board would be appointed by the City Council to guide and assist in the building of the parks.
After the long session, the council closed with the hopes of taking positive steps in providing the residents and visitors of Jacksboro with a safe and beautiful city.