The City of Henrietta is finally making ground on projects funded with a $3.25 million loan from the Texas Water Development Board to improve its water treatment facilities.
During Monday’s city council meeting, City Administrator Kelley Bloodworth said the city has filed two easements with the county clerk and held a pre-bid meeting with prospective contractors for construction of two 500,000-gallon clear wells.
The city has been in negotiations with landowners for the easement for two years. The additional easement is needed to gain access to and replace the raw water line that runs from the Little Wichita River and the city reservoir.
Contractors for the construction of the clear wells have two weeks to return bids. The winning bid will have to be approved by the state, which will take an additional 4-6 weeks. Once the bids are opened, the city will set a pre-bid meeting for the raw water line.
Also part of the project, improvements to the Wichita Lift Station, which handles wastewater, are in the design phase.
The loan for improvements was approved by the TWDB Feb. 17, 2010.
Bill Schenk of Reboot Computers asked that the council consider allowing Pinnacle Network Solutions, a wireless Internet provider, to place an antenna on the Bridge Street water tower. Schenk sells Pinnacle, which covers areas of Clay County north and west of Henrietta, as well as Lake Arrowhead.
Pinnacle wants to expand its coverage to Henrietta, and as part of the plan, offered two accounts to the city, valued at $2,400 per year. One of the wireless routers would be placed in downtown Henrietta, making the city the first in the Wichita Falls area to be a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The council noted that the most recent wireless company to place an antenna on the water tower, Choice Wireless, paid $8,500 per year.
“Yeah, but they’re not here anymore,” said Schenk. Choice Wireless cancelled its contract with the city in October.
The council chose to take no action until the request could be researched.
Henrietta will be without approximately $700 after Sudden Link Cable Company notified the city that it can no longer charge a 1 percent “PEG” fee unless the city provides a public access channel. Bloodworth said laws concerning the franchise fee were changed by the state legislature and the council voted to end the fee. Bloodworth said it would cost much more to provide a public access channel than the fee brings in.
The council approved a request by Sheriff Kenny Lemons to move the flagpole at city hall to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office with the stipulation that the CCSO also removed the concrete anchoring the pole so that the area can once again be used for flowerbeds. The flagpole was not used, and was erected when the building served as the county jail. The city will display the U.S. flag in the front window of city hall.
Aldermen also voted to lower the drought contingency plan from stage three to stage two. In stage two, residents are asked to voluntarily conserve by only watering every other day, though they can now water at any time during the day.