Concerns voiced during visitors portion of meeting

Christopher Maher Alice Echo-News Journal

Several local residents addressed the Alice City Council last Monday, on issues ranging from cemetery clean-up to internal city memos.

Rev. Joe Ferrell was the first to address the council during the hearing of visitors portion of the meeting. Ferrell asked the council to address a lack of care at the cemetery, and specifically complained of the condition of what was once the side segregated for the African-American community. Ferrell told the council that while some areas of the privately owned cemetery had been cleaned during recent clean-up efforts, he believed much of the debris that was removed was placed in the African-American side.

"Somebody has been cleaning up one side and bringing all the rubbish to the (African American) side," Ferrell told the council.

Local resident Juan Manrique also addressed the council, questioning a recent memo issued to city employees instructing them not to speak to the media and not to directly contact council members. The memo instructed employees to bring concerns to their department heads, who would then forward them to the city manager, who would then bring them to the council's attention. Manrique told the council he believed the memo from the city administration was unconstitutional.

"They're opening a can of worms. They might be paralyzing the city," Manrique said. "(Employees) should have the right to talk to anybody, anywhere."

The council also heard from local resident Eugene Nash, who complained about a lack of garbage pickup. Nash asked the council to address the trash pickup issue at a future meeting.

In other business, the council approved a request to re-zone a lot at 1100 Seabreeze street from R-3 Residential to B-3 Business. The rezoning was made at the request of the property owner, who reportedly intends to build a used car lot, a restaurant or a water dispenser at the location. The rezoning was approved on the condition that only those type of businesses may be built at the location.

The council re-nominated Newell Atkinson III to be placed on the ballot as the city's representative to serve on the Jim Wells County Appraisal District Board of directors for the 2008-2009 term. Atkinson has served on the board since 2006.

The council discussed an agenda item regarding adding security measures to the recycling center facility, but tabled the item. Council members discussed the possibility of installing a camera at the recycling center to curb dumping of non-recyclable material after hours, but tabled the item to allow for more research.

The council also issued two proclamations Monday.

The first proclamation named October "National Domestic Violence Awareness Month," and was given to Cristina Longoria of the Women's Shelter of South Texas.

The second proclamation was issued to the Alice Fire Department in honor of Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 7-13.