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City council discusses Vote Centers

by Dolores Hamilton
County Judge Woody Gossom, county commissioners, and County Clerk Lori Bohannon were at the Iowa Park City Council meeting Monday to discuss and receive input on proposed Vote Centers.
“It’s like early voting on election day,” Gossom said. “In Wichita County there are 31 voting locations and all 31 would be voting centers. Anyone going to any of those locations for a county, state, or federal election would be able to vote.”
The proposed Vote Centers would only apply to county elections and will not include city or school district elections.
Councilman Keith Dyer asked Bohannon what the advantage of vote centers are, and how will it benefit the voter. “It lets them vote wherever they are at,” she replied. He asked about safeguards and what the county would do to keep someone from hacking into the system. She said that isn’t possible because voting equipment is not connected to the internet.
Wichita County Republican Chairman Tom Cross said they are for the voting site, but not in this election. They would like to wait until the state has clear guidelines for dealing with the voting centers.
James Skinner, Precinct 412 Chairman, voiced concern that voting was becoming more centralized and away from the grass roots.
In addition to this meeting, the Commissioners Court had held two public meetings to receive comments from citizens, and a meeting was held in Electra Tuesday night. The meeting at Burkburnett will take place on June 20.
Comments from all the meetings are being recorded and will be sent to the Secretary of State by Aug. 25. Gossom said the state will base its decision on feedback from the public meetings and decide by Nov. 5 if they are ready to try this.
In other business, City Manager Jerry Flemming was authorized to advertise a request for proposal for bank depository services. The city’s bank depository agreement with Pilgrim Bank (formerly State National Bank) will expire next month, and the city will be soliciting proposals. The primary difference between the proposed request and the previous agreement is a change of term from five years to three years.
Flemming was also authorized to advertise for bids for construction of an animal facility. He said the existing facility could be used for a quarantine facility.
Council discussed pay increases for city employees to offset the increasing cost of health insurance. The matter was tabled for further study.
Additional action included appointing the city manager as the mayor’s proxy to serve on the Cross Plains Rural Transportation Council; approved budget preparation and approval schedule; authorized the city manager to solicit applications to serve on the Community Development Corporation 4B Board and the Planning and Zoning Commission.
During the Citizen’s Input portion of the meeting a resident who lives on Emma Drive told the council of a problem with flooding of the drainage area between Emma Drive and Louisa, and asked if the city could clean it out. Not being an agenda item, the council could not respond.
At the beginning of the meeting, Police Chief Robert Johnson introduced officers that were recognized during the Police Department’s award ceremony last week. They were Animal Control Officer Melissa Britt who received the Service Excellence Award; Matt Ohm, Officer of the Year; and Jason Owen, Dispatcher of the Year.