Cameron City Council approves grant submission; supports move to bring internet fiber to Cameron
The Cameron City Council moved forward with applying for grant funds through the CARES Act and paved the way for Zochnet to bring fiber to Cameron during a meeting Tuesday night.
The meeting kicked off with the swearing in of Bill Harris as mayor. The city paved the way for Harris to take over during an emergency meeting last week. Harris will assume the role being vacated by longtime councilwoman and Mayor Connie Anderle, who is retiring. Harris was unopposed in the upcoming election and will now be able to take over before the budget process gets underway.
City Manager Rhett Parker presented Anderle with a bouquet for all her hard work and dedication over the years. A reception for her will be held at a later date.
Council also approved a request from Cameron Industrial Foundation Director Ginger Watkins to support an application for grant funds that will be dispersed through the CARES Act.
“We have learned about a grant from the Economic Development Administration which was authorized under the CARES Act allowing municipalities to undertake infrastructure improvements,” Watkins said. “The grant is predisposed to projects that are shovel-ready and already have engineering work done on them.”
Watkins said that depending upon the economics and demographics of the community the grants will be at 100 percent, which means there will be no match needed by the city.
“Those don’t come along very often,” she said. “We have been looking at some of the key areas that we could use that didn’t require extensive engineering work. With support from Craig Arnold and the Street Department we looked at doing asphalt overlays on a number of city streets.”
Watkins said the city has a plan to chip seal the streets, but some of the streets could use the overlay to help prevent wear-and-tear.
The streets she is looking at submitting are the streets in the Business Park – Industrial and Old Waco Highway; also Adams from Highway 36 to The Yards entrance; and downtown streets.
“Our industrial businesses are a huge asset to our community,” she said. “The wear-and-tear on their equipment is a big negative as well as the dust we have out there for those residents. This is a big plus for everyone if we could undertake those streets.”
She said as we look toward the future Adams needs to have turn lanes onto the highway and that the preliminary engineering work on that project is already done.
“As the county looks to consolidating their offices it will be a benefit to all of us to refresh the downtown streets,” she said. “There is also a need to re-stripe the parking spaces downtown.”
Council authorized the submission of the grant.
Council also approved the hiring of Melissa Cobb as Director of the Cameron Housing Authority.
Watkins also spoke to council about the possibility of bringing fiber to Cameron through a proposal from Zochnet.
“Zochnet is a broadband provider in the city,” Watkins said. “They have a relationship with the city already. They have their equipment on the water tower on 22nd Street. They would like to bring fiber to the city of Cameron.”
Watkins said they would fund fiber in the area for residential and business use.
“As many of us have been working from home and are probably bemoaning the speed of our internet, this is really timely,” she said. “This is a million dollar investment. They have already put fiber in Granger, Lexington, Somerville, and they are finishing up Giddings. They have a contract with Caldwell and are working with Rockdale and they would very much like to come to Cameron.”
“We are one of their four cities in their network and they would very much like to be here,” she said. “What they are asking is just support from the city to bring this here. There is no investment on the city’s part.”
The council voted support this endeavor with Councilmember Kyle Deal saying this is a very positive move for Cameron and is a great thing.
Council also approved closing the city pool for the 2020 season due to lack of staffing and the need to clean to stay within regulations.
City Manager Rhett Parker said he currently doesn’t have enough staff that are certified and there is no access to proper certification courses at this time for lifeguards. There would also be a need to find a way to keep the areas sanitized due to COVID-19.
In other business the council also: accepted the resignation of Bobby Schiller from the Cameron Economic Development Board; moved to send out for bids for the old police station at 308 South Houston, with the stipulation that the building be OK to sell as is and without further obligations or abatements; and approved the closing of the airport for construction work and a 50 percent reduction in hangar rentals.