The City Council of the City of Palestine, Texas convened in an Emergency Telephonic or Internet Meeting on Monday, March 30, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 504 N. Queen Street, Palestine, Texas, with the following members:
Present: Mayor Steve Presley; Mayor Pro Tem Ann Connor; Council Member Larissa Loveless; Council Member Mitchell Jordan; Council Member Joe Baxter; Council Member Dana Goolsby
Staff Present: Leslie Cloer, City Manager; Teresa Herrera, City Secretary; Gary Landers, City Attorney
Other Staff Joined Virtually: Mark Harcrow, Interim Police Chief; Mark Miears, Development Services Director; Patsy Smith, Parks & Recreation Director; Shannon Davis, Fire Chief; Theresa Holden, Library Director; Mary Raum, Marketing Manager; Andrew Sibai, Interim Finance Director; Terry Johnson, Project Manager

Absent: Vickey L. Chivers, Council Member

With a quorum present, Mayor Presley called the meeting to order at 4:03 p.m.
There were no public comments submitted.
City Manager Cloer reported on the following: current Economic Development projects, the City pool, Connected Nations surveys, 2020 Census, and emergency management notification system. Also, Economic Development will not be accepting any grant applications for review, and staff will work with legal counsel to update the grant applications to have some more specific guidelines for how to apply and manage the grants.

The Palestine Public Library has extended book check-out deadlines from two weeks to four weeks. She provided Library temporary hours.

The City Manager's Office, Human Resources staff, and Finance staff are working with departments on deciding where to control/reduce spending. We are working to allow employees who would like to switch to four 10-hour workdays a week the opportunity to do so to allow more days at home with their families. Employees who would prefer to work the regular eight hour days have been given that option also. We are working to keep overtime costs minimal right now so our employees have time away from work to spend with their families.

The following departmental reports were provided:
1. City Manager's Report - Including Updates from Development Services, Economic Development Corporation, Palestine Public Library, and City Manager's Department
2. Public Works Update: working with KSA Engineering on the Water Treatment Plant generator; portable "trailer-mounted" generator was purchased; working with Athen's Contractors on the North Jackson Street infrastructure project; Felipe's Tree Service has begun cutting down trees near power lines surrounding the water plant; Compost Facility will be closed to residents and the public until further notice; and Streets staff has repaired potholes, drainage, and mowing right-of-ways.
3. Parks and Recreation Update: Family Fish Day set for April 18th is canceled; the opening of Splash Pad is suspended; pavilion rentals are currently suspended; the opening of the City pool suspended. Inmates are currently not allowed to help with mowing.
4. Finance Department Update: Accounting, Customer Service, and Municipal Court are available to communicate via email or phone since City Hall is closed to the public. Customer Service is accepting payments via mail, phone, online, or auto drafts. Billing will not be affected by all the changes. Municipal Court has canceled all court hearings until May 6, 2020; defendants were notified via text, Facebook, and webpage.
5. Fire and Emergency Management Update: Fire Department is maintaining contact with NETHealth for updates on coronavirus.
6. Human Resources Department Updates: They are working with departments to hold off on filling vacant positions unless they are deemed a critical essential need.

Council asked how many persons have been tested in Palestine. Mayor Presley informed that there are plenty of test kits available and those who meet the criteria will be tested. He added that he does not know how many have been tested at the hospital or local labs. Mayor Presley will try to get that information.
1. Discuss and take action on temporary construction easement agreement at Palestine Mall property.  City Manager, Leslie Cloer
City Manager Cloer provided staff comments. The City still currently owns the Palestine Mall Property.  John Christon currently owns Mall Pad Site 1 and has sold Mall Pad Site 2 to the developer for Chick-Fil-A.  City staff needs City Council to approve a temporary construction easement that has been reviewed by legal counsel to allow site work on all three properties so the construction for Chick-Fil-A can move forward.  The developer will need to relocate water and wastewater lines which will require work under the asphalt on all three properties.  The lines need to be relocated so they will run in between the two mall pad sites.  In the current location, the lines run directly underneath where the Chick-Fil-A drive-through lanes will be.  If future repair work were needed, the drive-through lane would have to be closed until the work could be completed.
  Motion by Council Member Joe Baxter, seconded by Council Member Mitchell Jordan to approve the temporary construction easement agreement at Palestine Mall property.
  Vote: 6 - 0 - Unanimously
Other: (ABSENT)
2. Discuss and take action regarding public restrooms at City facilities. Parks & Rec. Director Patsy Smith
City Manager Cloer provided staff comments. She recommends that all public park restrooms be closed immediately.

Council wanted to know why they should make a decision to close the restrooms but City staff can take it upon themselves to suspend the opening of the Splash Pad. City Manager answered that she would like Council to make the decision. A lengthy discussion was held. All the restrooms need to be closed on the same day and signs will be posted on the doors.
  Motion by Council Member Dana Goolsby, seconded by Council Member Larissa Loveless to close all public park restrooms in Palestine due to COVID-19 until further notice.
  Vote: 6 - 0 - Unanimously
Other: (ABSENT)
3. Discuss and take action on Coronavirus (COVID-19) response.  City Manager, Leslie Cloer
Mayor Presley explained that the City and County are following the CDC guidelines for Coronavirus even though there are no positive cases in Anderson County. Currently, there is no Shelter in Place Order for Palestine or Anderson County. He added that the Shelter in Place Order closes non-essentials businesses but essentials businesses will remain open. He stressed the importance of maintaining social distancing to reduce the spread of the virus.

Council asked that the City communicate with the businesses that need to be closed in accordance with Governor's Order. City Manager Cloer added that the only required notification by City Staff was to restaurants and the restaurant owners had to acknowledge the notification. The Governor's Order did not address hair or nail salons.

City Manager Cloer informed that Community Liasion Michele Herbert will start assisting with communications.

Council asked why the signs had not been posted at the parks to discourage people from using the equipment. City Manager answered that the City Attorney will provide the verbiage and the signs will be placed tomorrow.

Council's number one priority should be taking steps to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 into the City and being proactive not reactive.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:21 p.m.

Steve Presley, Mayor


Teresa Herrera, City Secretary


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