Durant City Council discusses city improvements

By Jessica Breger Staff Writer jbreger@civitasmedia.com

March 12, 2014

Durant City Council began its regular March meeting by honoring the memory of a recently departed community member.

Durant Police Department’s longtime volunteer chaplain, LaWanda “Chappy” Mabery, passed away Sunday. Mayor Jerry Tomlinson said Chappy thought of the men and women at the police department as her children. Her funeral was today.

City Council approved two city ordinances that will enforce preventing youth access to tobacco, mirroring state law and prohibiting all forms of tobacco and electronic cigarette use on city owned, operated or leased properties, mirroring an executive order from Governor Mary Fallin.

Approving the ordinances will aid the city in receiving grants for being a “Healthy City.”

Council also approved applying for the 2014 Healthy Communities Incentive Grant through the OK Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund (TSET) Program.

This is the third year in a row the city has been eligible for the grant. The city can apply for $50,000 which would go toward putting lighting at the Billy Miller Park.

City Council approved Emergency Management Director James Dalton’s requested authorization to accept bids for Highway Message Boards.

These LED message boards will be able to give emergency notifications to travelers such as traffic reports and emergency alerts.

The board will also be able to transmit information about traffic to Durant Emergency Management such as traffic speeds and traffic density.

Annexation processes are continuing for areas connecting to the new bypass in the city. Several areas were approved to be annexed into city limits after the Highway 70 bypass was completed to enable the city to maintain these areas.

The process is now continuing and notification is being mailed to all landowners. The council said they want to enable landowners to opt out of being annexed if they so wish, but has hopes that they will see the importance of the city being able to maintain these roadways.

Several rezoning requests were approved by council with some concern. Seven rezoning requests were submitted to change separate locations to R-3 classifications.

An R-3 classification allows for multi-family structures but also allows for multiple single-family structures on a certain size lot.

Jay Mauk with Sunview Homes said he wishes to put several single-family homes in these areas which has been unopposed. Some city council members were concerned for the future, however.

With citizens showing that they do not want any form of apartments going into the areas, some council members said they fear if the property is sold in the future that apartments may follow.

The rezoning request passed with a three to two vote of the council. Council members Stewart Hoffman and Jerry Polson voted against the rezoning.

In other news, the Durant Community Facilities Authority held a meeting Tuesday discussing track repairs at the Durant Multi-Sports Complex.

The Authority approved the repairs and appointed an authority member to oversee the project to ensure quality since poor- quality work in the past is the reason repairs are needed now.

The Authority is also considering ways to allow more public access to the track for community use during the off-season of track.

City Manager James Dunegan also requested an item be put on the next agenda to consider hiring a city employee to maintain the restrooms at the complex primarily during events.

- Jessica Breger can be reached at (580) 924-4388 ext. 116 or on Twitter @jbreger_news