MW council seeks bids for downtown water/sewer upgrades, hires new vet for animal shelter

Veterinarian Ryan Cate has been selected to provide services for the Mineral Wells Animal Shelter

MINERAL WELLS — Bids will go out shortly for $788,100 in water and sewer line upgrades in downtown Mineral Wells after the city council on Tuesday OKed the next stage of the significant infrastructure project.

City Manager Randy Criswell described the project, which is written into the fiscal 2021-22 budget the council is set to approve on Sept. 14, as beneficial for both downtown development and ongoing restoration efforts of the historic Baker Hotel.

Criswell also told the council that any contractors selected for the work will repair damage to the roughly seven blocks of downtown streets the work will cause. He also said the work will precede planned improvements to downtown sidewalks.

The work targets water and sewer lines beneath Northeast First Avenue, from Hubbard Street to Northeast Second Street, and from North Oak Street to Northeast Third Avenue, as well as beneath Northeast Third Avenue from Hubbard Street to Northeast First Street.

The sewer portion of the project will lay some 260 feet of 10-inch line and is the smaller of the projects. The water project includes a 12-inch line of almost 1,000 feet, along with hundreds of feet of 8-inch and smaller carriers.

City staff expects to open bids on Sept. 29 and make a recommendation to the council on Oct. 19, documents from Tuesday's meeting show.

In other action Tuesday, the council was unanimous in selecting veterinarian Ryan Cate, of the Riverstone Veterinary Clinic in Weatherford. Cate's services for the Mineral Wells Animal Shelter, particularly in spaying and neutering animals, will help tamp down the stray animal population and boost its vaccination rate.

The vet also could oversee implementation of a catch-neuter-release program for feral cats, as well as a program to place microchip identifiers into every animal that comes to the shelter, Police Chief Dean Sullivan told the council. He said the shelter has been without a staff veterinarian for several years.

The position will cost $12,000, which is written into the coming year's budget. A written recommendation from the chief said private donations and other revenue sources will be sought once Cate's services exceed that pay level.

"This gives us a better framework to move forward," he said.

Councilwoman Beth Watson said it was time to get those services into the shelter on Farm-to-Market Road 2256.

"Obviously, this is a great start," she said.

Finally Tuesday, the council agreed to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss a 68.8-cent tax rate and approve the budget for the fiscal year that starts on Oct.1.

No one from the public spoke during a public hearing on the rate, which to its last decimal is 0.6879056. It would bring a $688 tax bill on a $100,000 home with no exemptions applied.

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