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What’s happening in Copper Canyon: September 2015

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Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml
Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml

The Denton County Antique Tractor, Farm Equipment and Primitives Club’s annual fall meeting and picnic will again be September 26th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Raymond and Mary Fenley’s home and barn in Copper Canyon.

The public is welcome to come and look at old tractors and antique farm equipment. The Fenleys’ museum barn will also be open displaying primitives, tools, and other equipment. Many photos of our antique farm equipment are on the club website at www.Texasplowboys.com.

The picnic is free to all members and visitors. It will include fried chicken, tea and other drinks, courtesy of the Fenley’s. Members and Guests are welcome to bring a side dish to share at the picnic, but none is required.

The GPS address is 640 East Jernigan Rd, Copper Canyon, TX 75077 (southeast corner of the intersection of East Jernigan Road and Jernigan Road.  East Jernigan can be accessed to the west from Chinn Chapel Road.  Jernigan Road is north off of FM 407).

Last year the Club gave Seven $1,000 College Scholarships!

Raymond Fenley said: “As a club we may not be growing in membership, but we are growing in what we do as a contribution to Denton County’s young people. Last year we gave seven $1,000 scholarships funded by a Two Day Garage Sale and Scholarship Auction.

“We all try to bring something we do not need to this picnic and donate it for the Scholarship Auction which will start about 1 p.m. Saturday. Along with the auction, we have added a Two Day Garage Sale starting on Friday September 25th and continuing on Saturday September 26th. Each day the sale starts at 8 a.m. and will be open until people stop coming in.

“If you read this article, you are invited to come out, join us for lunch, look, visit, and buy at the auction. If you want to help a college bound high school senior and would like to donate an item for the scholarship auction, please call me at 940-241-2700. You can drop the item off at my home or I will pick it up.

“I am extremely proud that our club is now a 501-C3 non-profit organization. This means that all donations of scholarship money, auction items, primitive tools, and farm equipment can be written off on your annual income tax return as a charitable deduction.  Donations can be made out to:  Denton County Tractor Club. Any amount is welcome!

“If anyone should ask me what was the most rewarding thing that I have done in my life, I would have to say it would be starting the establishment of the college scholarships for Denton County kids and helping to raise money for the fund.

“I am looking forward to seeing a lot of new faces at the picnic this year!”

Proposed Sales Tax to Fund 3rd Deputy Sheriff dedicated to Town

At the August 10th Council Meeting, Council Member Valerie Cannaday  discussed the possibility of funding a third Sheriff’s Deputy dedicated to Copper Canyon.  Her personal experience was to call 911 in the evening, and it took 45 minutes for a Sheriff’s Deputy to respond.  Too long a wait for a law enforcement emergency. But, the sheriff’s office only has a limited number of roaming Deputies to cover ALL of Denton County, especially areas not covered by a municipal Police Departments.  Denton County is a huge geographical area encompassing 958 square miles.  Sheer distance, and so many roads in the county under construction, dramatically increases the response time of the limited number of roaming Sheriff’s Deputies!

At that Council Meeting both Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Steve Hill and Council Member Dave Svatik noted that there is increased development on Copper Canyon’s boundaries (especially in Lantana to the west), and there will be more development within the Town – and that we should be pro-active in providing more law enforcement ahead of the anticipated development. Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Mangum and I agreed.

A Crime Control Prevention District, funded by a one cent additional sales tax, could fund that 3rd Deputy.  But, were we too late to meet the State’s required notices to appoint a Temporary Crime Control and Prevention District Board, and for a CCPD Board to order a November 3rd Town election to approve a one cent sales tax?

INCREDIBLY TIGHT Two Week TIMETABLE for TOWN TO APPOINT a CRIME CONTROL PREVENTION DISTRICT BOARD:

The next morning (Tuesday) Town Attorney Terry Welch began investigating if Copper Canyon could possibly meet the stringent State required posting notices.  Wednesday afternoon he told me that the Town would have to post the notices in a newspaper no later than Friday!  And, the Council would have to appoint the 7 member Temporary Board for CCPD no later than August 24th – AND, the CCPD Temporary Board would have to call the November sales tax election no later than that same day!  First hurdle:  could we get the required notice published in a newspaper the very next day!  Early Thursday morning Town Administrator Donna Welsh called a friend at the Denton Record Chronicle, and he agreed as a favor to her to insert the required posting notice in the next day Friday’s edition.  First hurdle crossed.

WHO COULD SERVE ON THE TEMPORARY 7 Member CCPD BOARD of DIRECTORS?

Town Administrator Donna Welsh had the brilliant insight to ask P&Z Members and alternates to serve on the Temporary CCPD – as (1) the Council was already familiar with them, and (2) most would also be coming to the already scheduled P&Z Meeting on August 24th

And Monday August 24th was the LAST DATE for a Temporary CCPD Board of Directors to call a November election for residents to vote on a sales tax to fund a permanent CCPD.  Donna and I also decided, as a precaution, to add to the potential list of Board members two additional persons who could ALWAYS be relied upon to attend Council Meetings – Dale Svatik and Annell Bradford.

Early Thursday morning, I began calling P&Z Members and Alternates to see if they would be present August 24th – AND be willing to serve on the Temporary CCPD Board of Directors.  The list is in the order of their response.  Janet Aune, Andre Nicholas, Michael Cannaday, Tom Reed, Louise Williams, Cesar Castaneda, Dale Svatik and Annell Bradford as 1st Alternate.  American Airlines pilot John Brothers returned the call a day later.  He was willing to serve on the CCPD, but could not be present August 24th.  P&Z Alternate Kaki Lybbert also returned my call later.  She was willing and would be present August 24th, so she is named as the 2nd Alternate to the Temporary CCPD Board.  Tom Reed will not be present August 24th, so we will drop down to 1st Alternate Annell Bradford.  Many, many Thanks to all of you for agreeing to serve on such very short notice!

The CCPD Board of Directors members are “temporary”.  Standard Operating

Procedure (SOP) in Texas is for the Council, after residents vote to approve the CCPD and additional sales tax in the November election, to appoint the Council as the permanent CCPD Board.

State Required TWO YEAR CCPD BUDGET and PLAN:

Town Administrator Donna Welsh wisely drafted the Budget and Plan with some financial cushions.  Current estimated sales tax revenue for next fiscal year is $108,000.  Cost of a Sheriff’s Deputy and Patrol vehicle is approximately $92,000.  This allows a $16,000 cushion for a Town home business to close or the cost of a Sheriff’s Office Deputy to increase.  Most important – Sales taxes from Copper Canyon home businesses are usually paid primarily by NON -Town residents.

NOVEMBER 3rd ELECTION to approve Crime Control and Prevention District funded by an additional Town Sales Tax

Between now and November 3rd the Council and the Temporary CCPD Board will need to educate our resident voters on the benefits of a third Deputy.  Additional traffic control coverage is not our goal.  The third Deputy will allow law enforcement coverage every day of the week and more coverage in the evenings and on weekends.  Our concern is to have an immediate quick response by a Deputy dedicated to Copper Canyon to any Town resident’s 911 call for law enforcement help.

How Copper Canyon keeps abreast of new information for Towns in Texas

Copper Canyon keeps abreast of new information for towns in Texas by having Staff and Council regularly attend conferences sponsored by the State and the Texas Municipal League.  Our Town Secretary Sheila Morales and Municipal Court Clerk Carol McLeod regularly attend educational seminars to qualify for their respective State certification programs.  Town Administrator Donna Welsh attends the annual 2 day conference for City Managers in Texas and also attends specialized grant writing workshops. I attend the two day TML Annual Conference, the TML “Small Cities Problem Solving Clinic,” and the City of McKinney’s very much appreciated annually sponsored workshop for small towns.  Council Member Steve Hill completes State required financial courses that qualify him to be our Town’s Investment Officer.  Bill Castleman, elected to Council last May, just returned from a standard Texas Municipal League one day conference titled “Newly Elected Officials Workshop.”

Bill Castleman shares Notes from Texas Municipal League Conference

A Council Member in Texas must understand the requirements of the Texas Open Meetings Act and the Texas Open Records Act.  These two statutes are the backbone of government “transparency” in our State.  Individual violations with court convictions are punishable by prison time.  Castleman asked: (1) If Copper Canyon posted notice of any meeting of a quorum of three Council Members?  Answer – Absolutely.  Posted at Town Hall and on the Town web site.  (2)  Did CC have a reserve fund for financial emergencies?  Answer -Yes, $200,000 which we only use for emergencies, but haven’t yet needed to dip into.  (3) Could we use general funds for road maintenance?  Answer – Yes.  (4) If the Mayor did not attend a Council Meeting, could the Mayor Pro Tem’s presence count towards a three person quorum and could the Mayor Pro Tem vote?  Answer – Yes to both questions.  (Though, I believe have only missed two Council Meetings in a decade.) (5) Were individual Council Member’s emails concerning Town business subject to the Open Records Act?  Answer –   Yes.  Council Members are advised to have a totally separate email address for all Town business.

Question: How to keep Council Meetings to a Reasonable Length of Time?

This is a recurring issue for most municipal Councils.  (Roanoke excepted.  I am in awe of their Council’s unbelievably swift meetings!?!  My congratulations to their Mayor Scooter Gierisch and City Manager Scott Campbell for the incredible preparation and organization that precedes any Council Meeting!)

Our Council Members volunteer their personal time to serve on Council.  They are not compensated in any way, financial or otherwise.  I am retired, but all other Council Members are also working full time.  And, Council Member Valerie Cannaday has new baby Kate!  So, there is a fiduciary duty for all Council Members to respect this mutual time commitment.

Our Council Members receive a Preliminary Packet the Wednesday afternoon prior to a Monday Council Meeting.  The final packet is posted online Friday afternoon prior to the Monday Council Meeting.  It may contain additional last minute Agenda items or more supporting documents.  (Since Copper Canyon’s Council usually only meets once a month, it is important to include all current pending issues – or the issues must wait another month to be addressed.)

Answer: Require “Individual Questions” to be asked and answered BEFORE the Council Meeting!

Council is strongly encouraged to ask any questions of the Town Administrator beginning on Wednesday afternoon after receiving the Preliminary Meeting Packet by email.  And, the Town Administrator’s position is NOT a “9 to 5” one.  TA Donna Welsh makes herself available to the Council by phone or email throughout the weekend prior to a Council Meeting. She can probably answer 8 of 10 Council Member questions immediately.  But, occasionally she appreciates the time to double check facts and numbers or research the answer to questions prior to Council Meeting.  But, she will get back to Council Members ASAP.

Council Members are respectfully asked to NOT wait until Monday night for “individual” questions.  Council Member questions are ALWAYS welcome!  But Council Members have different backgrounds of knowledge, and some may already know the answers to “individual” questions.  Asking questions in advance – and hopefully getting satisfactory answers – respects everyone’s time at meetings.

Our Town has been truly blessed with Council Members who do NOT have “an Agenda”!  “Single issue” Council Members often want to “grandstand” at Council Meetings with a “captive audience” of their fellow Council Members and attending Town residents.  Sadly, their attitude can be one of “gotcha”, while they “sandbag” and embarrass a fellow Council Member or Staff Member with a question the latter was not expecting and may not be adequately prepared for.

But, for a decade, my experience has been that Copper Canyon Council Members genuinely want the best for ALL who choose to live in our very small, but very special, Texas Town!  And, they treat each other with genuine mutual respect.  The Council’s discussions are thoughtful, creative, sometimes humorous (nothing like a good laugh to defuse a difficult issue), but always civil.  Even more fortunately, our Council Members unfailingly extend this respect and courtesy to both Town residents and our very small Staff.  This results in a long tenured group of individuals with invaluable historical knowledge of Copper Canyon.  But the friendly atmosphere also encourages newcomers to Town to be willing to volunteer and become a part of our neighborhood community.  And, newcomers are always welcome to our Team spirit!

My sincere thanks to Town Administrator Donna Welsh, Town Secretary Sheila Morales, Municipal Court Clerk Carol McLeod, Building Inspector Steve Koehler, Sheriff’s Deputies David Berry and Jess Moran, Animal Control Officer Brian Hall, Town Engineer James Gaertner of Halff Associates, and Town Attorney Terry Welch of the law firm of Brown and Hofmeister.  As a Town Team, you and our Council and our many Volunteers enable our Town to function efficiently, financially sound, and with safety for our families and an old fashioned community spirit of “neighbor caring for neighbor.”  Thank You All!

Our Fire District offers free CPR Classes to Public, funded by ESD#1

Our Fire District just completed its 4th CPR class offered free to the public.  The classes have been taught once a quarter, but due to their popularity the District is going to offer free CPR classes once every two months.  The classes will be smaller, averaging 12-15 students with 3 rotating instructors.  (Previous classes had 24-25 students.)  New CPR mannequins have also been purchased.  To register for the free CPR classes, call Marlene Tackett on the non-emergency AVFD number 940-464-7102.  Classes are held at Fire Station 411 on the southeast corner of FM 407 and Jeter Road in Argyle.

Hardworking Planning & Zoning Commission updating some Ordinances

Our P&Z Commission consists of some very dedicated Copper Canyon residents!

Council appointed volunteers are Janet Aune, Chairman, and Commissioners John Brothers, Michael Cannaday, Andre Nicholas, Tom Reed and Alternates Cesar Castaneda, Brad Kokoron, Kaki Lybbert, and Louise Williams.  P&Z Commissioners and Alternates live in a variety of geographical locations in Town.  The Council appoints them for a two year term, but they serve at the discretion of Council.

P&Z Recommendations to Council concerning Board of Adjustments

P&Z recommended to Council two amendments to Ordinances concerning our Board of Adjustments.  Proposed Ordinance 15-012 provides 10 day advance notice to all landowners within 200 feet of request for variance by BOA.  Landowners may attend the BOA Meeting (or send an email) to oppose the variance or to demonstrate their support for the variance.

P&Z also recommended approval of proposed BOA ordinance 15-013 which requires Council to number the four BOA Alternates from #1 to #4.  If a BOA Member is absent from a meeting, the Town Secretary will seat an Alternate who is present at the meeting beginning with designated Alternate #1 and continuing in sequential order.

State and Municipal Requirements of a Fence around Swimming Pools.

The State of Texas sets the requirements for fencing around pools at multi-residential sites such as apartment projects.  But municipalities by ordinance can establish the requirements for fencing around new pools on single family residential lots.  The County does not have this authority over homes in unincorporated areas.

Our Staff had asked for clarification of our current ordinance to answer our residents’ most frequent questions.  (1) For instance, does the requirement for fencing a swimming pool include fencing other bodies of water – such as a stock tank, livestock watering trough, fountain, or ornamental fish pond, etc?  P&Z asked our Town Attorney Terry Welch to include in our ordinance the State’s definition of a “residential swimming pool” that required security fencing to protect children.  This would definitely exclude agricultural tanks and troughs and smaller ornamental water features from the fencing requirement.

(2) The second most frequently asked question was did the Town’s fencing requirement apply to existing swimming pools?  No, it doesn’t.  The fencing requirement only applies to new pools while under construction and before being plastered.  However, a resident’s personal insurance carrier may require a fence immediately adjacent to and around a swimming pool.  And as Louise Williams noted, whether required by the Town or not, parents may wish to fence their existing swimming pool for the protection of their small children, neighbors’ children, and friends and guests.

(3) The third most frequent question was “Does an existing fence around the perimeter of a backyard of a one acre lot, or around a multi-acre lot, suffice to secure the pool?  Yes, if the fence is tall enough, gates are self-closing and locking or remain locked.  However, insurance carriers may require an additional fence immediately around the pool and/or loud alarms when a door in the home opens directly into a larger fenced pool area.  Commissioner Mike Cannaday, also a home builder in North Texas, said other municipalities require the homeowner to sign an Affidavit that they have installed a security fence immediately around this new pool or they have installed an alarm system adjacent to every house door that opens directly into the fenced area around the pool.

Building Standards for a Variety of Accessory Buildings to Homes

Accessory buildings to homes come in a variety of types and sizes:  detached garages, carports, RV shelters, tool sheds, sheds for garden implements or pool equipment, greenhouses, pergolas, roofed outdoor kitchens, etc.  For larger acreage there may be barns, horse stalls, and/or sheds for tractors, trailers, tools, and/or feed.  Agricultural buildings and small accessory buildings of a 100 square feet or less (i.e. 10 foot x 10 foot) are exempt from our current town standards.  But all other accessory buildings are just lumped together.

Commissioner Andre Nicholas suggested that garages be regulated separately and that exteriors should consist of materials and colors complimenting those of the existing home.  The P&Z Commissioners seemed to generally feel that there should be different requirements for maximum size, exterior materials, and number of accessory buildings allowed based on the size of the residential lot.  A very large unpainted metal shed, or multiple accessory buildings, could be very intrusive on one acre lots, due to the close proximity of neighbors’ homes and backyards.  But standards might be more relaxed for two acre, five acre, and even larger residential lots.  The increased distance from neighbors could allow for different standards for accessory buildings in maximum size, height, exterior materials, and even number of accessory buildings allowed.

P&Z will meet Monday night September 14th after the Council Meeting to further address the issues of fenced swimming pools and accessory buildings to homes.  Copper Canyon residents are always welcome to attend both Council and P&Z Meetings!  Any comments are suggestions may be emailed to townadministrator@coppercanyon-tx.org.

Interesting Fact:   For the first time Tablets outsell Desktop and Laptop Computers.

As anyone who owns a smart phone and/or tablet knows, these devices are incredibly handy, small, and mobile for accessing internet information, organizing data, and contacting individuals and businesses.  PCs and laptops are not going away, but sales are declining significantly worldwide.  Gartner Inc., an information technology company, estimates that for the first time in 2015 more tablets will be sold than desktop and laptop computers – 320 million to 316 million.

“Sales of personal computers have fallen off a cliff, along with the stock prices of the companies that make the things.  Shipments of PCs worldwide dropped 11.8 million units to 66.1 million units, according to a recent report by International Data Corp.  This was the largest decline in two years, with all the major PC manufacturers except Apple Inc. having major declines in sales.

“China-based Lenovo Group LTD., the world’s largest computer maker with about 20 percent market share, saw sales drop 7.5 percent in the quarter.   And PC sales at long-suffering Hewlett-Packard Co. were down 10.4 percent, while Dell saw a decline of 8.7 percent.  Acer Group was the biggest loser among PC makers with a jaw-dropping 26.9 percent decline in sales.  On a positive note, shipments of the Apple Macintosh were up 16.10 percent, as it continued to take market share from competitors, although it remains the fourth largest PC maker.

“PC makers are hoping potential buyers have simply delayed buying computers…until the much anticipated launch this week of Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system.”  (Article by columnist Will Deener in the Dallas Morning News, July 27, 2015, page 1D.)

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