City of Italy honors Bobby Wilson


In the regular meeting of the Italy City Council on Monday night, Mayor Steven Farmer read a proclamation honoring Bobby Wilson. Wilson was raised in Italy and was admired by everyone. He was recently murdered in Dallas.

Sammy Price addressed the council requesting the City rename Williams Street to Bobby Wilson Street.

“All of us that have kids wants them to grow up and be successful,” Price said. “Laquinqua Wilson’s kids did that. Bobby was taken from us a few months ago. He was 24 years old and had never been in trouble. Did not smoke, did not drink, did not do drugs, went to college. He was such a good guy.”

“We want to remember him in a good way and make sure he did not die in vain,” Price continued. “I have petitions with 200 names requesting you rename Williams Street to Bobby Wilson Street. All the residents that live on Williams Street have signed agreeing to change the name.”

Mayor Farmer said the petitions were not necessary. He said there would be some logistics to be worked out. Councilman Troy Kowalsky said the county would need to be contacted for the change.

The council voted unanimously to change the name of Williams Street to Bobby Wilson Street.

The council discussed and unanimously voted to name Shawn Holden the Director of Public Works and Administration. They also voted to give Holden a pay increase to $60,000 per year.

“After all the changes that have been made with employees, Shawn stepped in,” said Mayor Steven Farmer. “I feel this would be best for the City. It saves us $66,700 per year. Amber Cunningham is our new Assistant City Secreatary. She keeps Shawn advised of things at City Hall on a daily basis. He is already doing the job.”

“Clarice is leaving and Tina Long is moving to that position.” Farmer continued. “Jennifer Walls will replace Tina as the Court Clerk.

Council member, Troy Kowalsky, questioned why the City would want to restructure everyone’s jobs. He also stated this had nothing to do with Holden’s job performance. He said that he personally felt that Shawn should not have to manage two departments.

“This has nothing to do with Shawn. I think he is doing an amazing job,” Kowalsky said. “That job is hard and the person we hire needs to be very educated and savy. There is a ton of stuff that goes with that job. I think we should hire someone from outside for the administrator’s job.

Kowalsky asked Holden if he thought he could do both jobs.

“When it was offered to me I prayed about it,” Holden said. Amber is doing a great job. It is a team effort. I feel I can do the job.”

The council discussed putting all department heads under a three-year contract. Farmer said that he wants our employees to be happy. He said he thinks they need a contract.

“A contract would not mean the employees were 100% untouchable. I wanted to bring this up because the employees don’t have a voice,” Farmer said.

Council member, Paul Shearin, said that if there were issues we would have an out. The city attorney will be consulted on the matter. No action was taken.

The council discussed making the Community Center a permanent City Hall. Council member Carl Cash said that he had this placed on the agenda. He said they were coming down to the end of the 6 months. He said it was his understanding it was the council’s decision to make not the EDC’s. He said the EDC pays for the building but the city maintains it and pays all the expenses.

Elmerine Bell addressed the council during citizens comments, objecting to making the community center the permanent city hall.

“I have been on the EDC board for 8 years,” said Bell. “Under Section 4 B you cannot use this building as a city hall. It is still being paid for by the EDC. If you proceed I as a citizen will circulate a petition within 60 days of you doing this. You will have to get a ruling from the Attorney General’s Office. I am here to advise you of the law.”

No action was taken on this item.

Ann and Philip Jaynes addressed the council regarding traffic concerns at the intersection of Hwy 667 and Hwy 34 where several vehicles failed to stop at the stop sign and have come into their yard and damaged their vehicles. Ann told the council she had contacted TXDOT and they had placed a sign at the intersection but would like to possibly have a flashing light to alert drivers. She said she was told she needed to contact the city about this. The City will contact TXDOT regarding this and no other action was taken.

Carl Cash questioned a bill for $1,607.49 for suckers, key chains and pens ordered by Cameron Beckham when he was Chief of Police. Farmer stated the department heads do their own budgets. He mentioned the coins the city ordered for $1,000. He said that the employees need to be shown they are appreciated and receiving one of the coins should do that. He said he gave Judge Jackie Miller a coin to let him know he is appreciated for all his years of service to the City.

The council unanimously voted to pay all the bills with the exception of the $1,607.49.

The council also:

Approved Ordinance No. 2017-0213-01 with amendments providing for an election on May 6, 2017 for the purpose of electing a mayor, 2 council members for terms of two years and a special election to elect 1 council member for a 1-year term.

Heard a presentation from Lisa Blanton with Liberty National Life regarding her company providing free life, dental, eye and chiropractic insurance for all city employees and their families. She also explained other insurance at a nominal fee for the employees like cancer insurance. No action was taken.

Approved a contract between the City of Italy/Italy ISD and Jana Onyon, Elections Administrator of Ellis County to administer all election services.

Discussed the sale of City of Italy fire equipment to the ESD#3 for $1. They will contact the attorney to draw up the necessary paperwork. The ESD would pay for all insurance and expenses of the equipment.

Approved the amended Ordinance No. 2016-0812-03 establishing city fees and charges.

The council meets in regular session the 2nd Monday of every month at city hall at 6:00 p.m. The community is invited and encouraged to attend the meetings.