I got a call early this month from my pal, Randy Homan, a long time Double Oak resident asking about the big mess on Simmons Road. I’d noticed it when I was out earlier in the day. When I drove by there was a U-Haul truck parked in the bar ditch with belongings strewn for about a hundred feet by the side of the road. There were several folks milling about and I was afraid that there might have been an accident.
Hands-free cell phones in cars are made for situations like this one so I dialed Town Hall and talked to Charlie Wright, Double Oak Director of Public Works. Charlie was well aware of the situation, and yes, police had been to the scene but it was a foreclosure, not an accident. The commotion was the remainder of a family’s household goods scattered along the street.
Later, I talked to Acting Mayor, Mike Donnelly about it and he was hot! The sheriff’s mighty men had come by, evicted the residents and put their belongings at the side of the road. The wind was blowing some of the paper around and it was a first class mess. Mike talked to our Police Chief and gave the “red ear” to the sheriff, but even though we had a royal mess, the town was not authorized to touch anything for twenty-four hours! That’s the process. That’s how it works.
This is not the first foreclosure that we’ve ever had in Double Oak although they have been few. In other foreclosures though, the residents made prior arrangements and moved their own belongings.
Mike took direct action hiring some help and a truck to do the clean up for the next day when the town could legally remove the remainder. He also took the day off from work and as I drove by the next morning I saw him directing the clean up. Later he told me that he is sending the cleanup bill to the foreclosing bank and expects the town to be reimbursed.
Questions remain, though. Mike wondered why the town couldn’t have been notified earlier. He would have had a dumpster stationed right there to hold the material that the homeowner didn’t want to keep. I’m sure it’s a devastating experience for the homeowner and not pleasant for the deputies cleaning out the property.
Surely there is a better way to do this!
I’ve had that function now for almost two years. It’s not the most time consuming town job I’ve had but after being involved in town jobs for 20 years I felt it was time to cut back a bit. Mayor Mike sent out an e-mail blast looking for volunteers and got several asking what the pay and benefits were. There is no pay, of course, and the benefits are that you get to help the town. That has been a real pleasure and certainly offset the time allotted to it. I was doubtful that any replacement would respond to an e-mail. It’s been my experience that usually the best way is direct contact.
Imagine my surprise when I got a call later that day from Jerry Lamel letting me know that he had talked to the mayor and volunteered to serve. Jerry has been Town Treasurer. In addition he was the appointed board member from Double Oak to the Upper Trinity Regional Water District and also served on Town Council. In my opinion, Jerry was the best Town Treasurer the town has ever had!
Jerry gave it all up due to some severe health problems but now is sufficiently recovered to serve a couple of more years. I’m from an engineering and management background so I do understand the numbers in a balance sheet but Jerry is a financial whiz and a forensic accountant and managed accounting and finance for Xerox.
The Town Treasurer and Deputy Treasurer are appointed by Town Council. It is not an elected office. I never try to predict the actions of any town council. The council is an elected body of motivated volunteers. Jerry’s nomination might occur as soon as the first meeting in March.