Snead approves new water tank, storm shelter

The Snead Town Council voted to award a $299,200 contract to Southeastern Tank to construct a new 300,000 gallon water tank. Awaiting clarification of state licensing for the lowest bidder, members postponed awarding another bid for additional utilities department expansion. Town engineer Robert Nelson recommended the actions, while noting that both bids came in under budget.

Utilities supervisor Jeff Whited advised the council that the town had won approval for a FEMA-granted storm shelter. That announcement set off a debate begun by councilman Jack Freeman. Freeman expressed his opposition to the grant. Freeman asserted he felt the shelter would not be used and would shift town money away from other priorities such as roads.

Councilman Dale Snead voiced an opposing view, contending that should the shelter save only one life, it would be well worth the town’s $28,500 match for the more than $140,000 project. Freeman held that the town already has a safe room in its new senior citizens center, which has not been used to its capacity in the town’s more recent severe weather threats.

Center director Jane Childress noted some have viewed the safe room and asserted they feel as safe at home as in that room. Nelson explained that the safe room would not be as highly rated as the FEMA shelter and that the room was intended for use by those already at the center when severe weather might strike.

Freeman made a plea for fiscal conservatism throughout the nation. He assertby ed the town match was only the beginning, with the needed parking, sewer, and electrical work that would follow as expenses to the town. Nelson explained that the shelter is pre-fabricated and has only built-in benches with no restroom facilities. He noted that the structure cannot be used for any other purposes under FEMA requirements.

Snead said the structure would be intended for a temporary retreat until the most-immediate threat had passed. Councilors asked Nelson what implications the town might face if it rejected the grant.

Nelson noted that many towns would love to have the grant opportunity. He seemed to indicate that rejecting the grant would likely not affect the town’s position for future grants but elaborated that the town would likely not have the opportunity for a shelter again any time soon. He explained that Snead may well have received the grant because of the April 27, 2011, destruction in the county and nearby areas.

Freeman moved to delay accepting the grant to allow further input from citizens. That motion failed for lack of a second. The council then approved Snead’s motion to accept the grant. Town officials intend to locate the shelter behind a local strip mall that houses a grocery and drug store.

Contractor Jerry Tidwell had begun the session with a request for help with storage facilities he and Javier Gonzalez own in the town. Several of the units experienced recent break-ins. Police chief Phillip Weaver explained that Tidwell has now provided police with codes to allow them entry to the fenced area and that his officers are patrolling within that area. He also said that renters have been unable to identify any items missing from their units.

Near the end of the meeting, discussion returned to the question of breakins. The town held an earlier meeting the week prior to examine that issue and is in the process of establishing a neighborhood watch coordinated by Childress.

Mayor Curtis Painter and councilors Phillip McHan, Greg Ogles, and Charles Sanders joined Freeman and Snead for the March 11 session. The council has scheduled a 6:30 p.m. work session before its next regular fourth Monday meeting of March 25 at 7 p.m.