Wednesday, July 17, 2024

What’s Happening in Copper Canyon – November 2016

Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml
Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml

Happy 70th Birthday June Tyler and Thank You for Your Years of Service to Copper Canyon as Chairman of the Trails Special Projects Committee!

Our Trails would not be as wonderful as they are without all your efforts over the years!  From Mayor Sue and Town Administrator Donna

Did You Know That: Texas Still Ranks Second-Worst State in the Nation for Medically Uninsured Children.  Only Alaska Ranked Worse.

Texas still ranks second-worst State in the nation for medically uninsured children, even though the rate of Texas kids without medical insurance decreased from 16.6% in 2009 to 9.5% in 2015.  The national Average for uninsured children was 4.8% in 2015, virtually half our Texas rate.  [Georgetown University Center for Children and Families report released October 27, 2016.]

“Researchers, working from U.S. Census data, found almost one in five uninsured children in the United States live in Texas – 682,000 as of 2014.  Only Alaska ranked worse.”  [Dallas Morning News, October 29, 2016, page 3B]

Saturday December 3rd 3-5 p.m. Santa Party for Copper Canyon Kids at Town Hall.  (All children must be accompanied by an adult Town resident.)

The highlight of the Santa Party for our kids is always their traditional ride atop the big red fire engine of our Argyle Fire District!  Parents are welcome to ride atop the engine, too.  And our very fit and muscular firefighters will help adults safely up the vertical metal ladder on the rear of the engine.  If your child wants to ride atop the fire engine, be sure they have a jacket to wear.  Though the fire engine wanders slowly through our Woodlands subdivision, it can be breezy up on top.

For children who prefer not to ride on top, they can ride inside the cab and make the siren ring out!  (Many thanks again to the residents of the Woodlands who very good naturedly abide the repeated sound of the fire engine siren!)

Argyle Fire Chief Mac Hohenberger is a long time Copper Canyon resident and has always reliably provided the fire engine rides for our children’s pleasure!  Unless – there is a fire call – and then the engine and firefighters must respond promptly!

Our Town Administrator Donna Welsh has been organizing this well attended traditional event for many years.  And the members of the Copper Canyon Women’s Club have decorated Town Hall for Christmas and provided homemade cookies for the party!

Students Volunteer in Copper Canyon for Community Service Hours

This year several middle school students will be assisting at the Santa Party to earn Community Service Hours.  Jackson Williams, son of Dean and Louise Williams, will be helping children up the steep rear ladder to the top of the fire engine.  Jackson’s five years of training in martial arts have provided him with the strength to safely do this.  His community service hours are for his membership in the National Honor Society of Harpool Middle School.  Jackson is following his parents’ example of volunteering for our Town.  Dean has served for years on our Board of Adjustment and Louise has served both on Planning and Zoning and as a Block Captain for Crepe Myrtle Lane and Lakeview Court.

Diana Revels and her granddaughter Kelly, age 12, are undertaking two projects together for Kelly’s Community Service hours.  Kelly will also be volunteering at the Santa Party.  And, Grandmother and Granddaughter are Adopt-a-Spot volunteers for Woodland Drive.  Together as a team – they will be picking up litter from the town’s right-of-ways alongside this major street entrance to our Town Hall.  If you see them together working the roadsides of Woodland Drive, please wave, or tap your horn lightly, and thank them personally for their “community spirit”!

Denco 911 Receives National Recognition for “Text to 911” Capability

Denco 911 recently received national recognition as the first 911 organization to technically be able to effectively accommodate “text to 911”.  In a traffic accident or medical emergency, this benefits both the totally deaf and hearing-impaired persons, who are often our senior citizens.  Texting is especially protective for spouses and children in a domestic abuse or home invasion situation.  Being able to stay hidden, but silently text to 911 for help, can save lives!

Recent Storm Water and Silt Drain From Lantana Onto Copper Canyon

During recent heavy rains, a detention pond in Lantana (southwest of the intersection of Crepe Myrtle Lane and Copper Canyon Road) discharged storm water and silt across Copper Canyon Road and onto homeowners’ yards  and ponds in our Town.

The Town addressed this same issue with Lantana several years ago, when this same Lantana subdivision was first under construction.  The subdivision was built with stair-stepped lots descending down a hill.  Unfortunately, the silt fences installed by the developer were not adequate during a hard rain to keep bare dirt from the new lots cascading down the hill born by storm water and across Copper Canyon Road onto our homeowners’ lands.  At that time, two Town residents were monetarily compensated by Lantana for storm water and silt that flowed across their yards and into their personal ponds in Copper Canyon.

This time the affected residents’ multi-acre ponds rose three feet!  The residents have photos and videos to document the silt flow and rise in storm water onto their lawns. (Fortunately, their homes were not threatened with the rising storm water.)  In addition, three residents could not get to or from their homes due to the deep storm water rushing across the residential access street to their homes!  This is a safety concern that has to be addressed!

Council Member Valerie Cannaday lives nearby.  She noted that the Lantana pond seems too small and that the volume of water that rushes out of it is terrible.  Our Town Engineer Michael Chisholm has been on site to investigate the issue.

The Town will consult with Lantana’s management team and recommend that the silt that has accumulated in this specific Lantana detention pond over the last few years be dredged out.  Then the pond can again reliably accommodate the capacity of storm water it was originally designed to hold.

Possible Texas Legislature Agenda Affecting Towns & Cities in Our Area

The Texas Municipal League represents over a thousand towns and cities in our State, from the smallest to the largest in population.  Because TML workshops are so informative, I try to attend TML’s annual 2-3 day conference each year.  TML’s defensive presence in Austin is also Texas municipalities’ best defense against Legislative overreach into areas of traditional “local control.”  (I.e. The State Legislature’s recent state takeover of control of fracking of oil and gas wells within a town’s boundaries.  The State, not the individual towns and cities, now has final control of this issue within municipal township boundaries.)

Our Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has suggested two items on a proposed agenda for the Texas Legislature to consider in its 2017 session.

  • Requiring Separate Restrooms for Transgender Individuals:

This would apply to both large and small businesses, local government buildings, and schools.  State government would not pay for enforcement or construction of these separate required facilities.  (Both small businesses and large corporations are already on public record opposing this proposed unfunded mandate by the State.)

NOTE: Texas is almost” rock bottom last” in the list of states that fund local projects. (Out of 50 states, Texas ranks 47th.)   For instance, the Legislature has yet to raise its state contribution to public schools back up to its 2008 level.  That is almost a decade of underfunding of public schools by our State.

  • Cut the Municipal “Rollback Tax Rate” in Half – From 8% to 4%:

If a municipality has any growth in homes and/or businesses, it will receive increased property taxes.  Because our healthy Texas economy is attracting so many new residents and businesses, this is a common occurrence for municipalities in North Texas and in other State metroplexes like Houston, San Antonio, and Austin.

But increased population growth also requires an increase in the most basic services that towns and cities provide.  More city arterial streets are built or widened to handle the increased vehicular traffic.  Constructing streets ahead of the growth is always preferable.  But to do so cities must plan ahead and be sure there will be reliable tax dollars to fund the project through to timely completion.  Long, drawn out road construction projects due to inadequate funding are a nightmare for all concerned!

More fire stations and ambulances are also necessary to handle increased need for emergency fire and medical care.  Robson Ranch, an Active Senior community in Denton County, is a perfect example of welcome residential growth that also requires increased service from First Responders. And population growth also requires more basic utility infrastructure for water, etc.

Cutting the “rollback tax rate” in half (from 8% to 4%)  reduces the flexibility of cities/towns to collect marginally increased property taxes without costly citywide elections for approval.  Yet Texas cities, not the State government,  will provide and pay for  the necessary maintenance of basic municipal services to residents. (TML has put this issue at the top of their defense list.)

Flower Mound Hosts Discussion by Denton County Towns on Possible Municipal Issues in the Next Legislative Session Beginning in January 2017

Mayors, Council Members, and City Managers met to discuss major issues affecting North Texas communities.  Council Member Bill Castleman attended for Copper Canyon. The Texas Municipal League speaker clarified impending legislation and how the bills might, or might not, affect our area.  Three specific concerns were identified:

  • Property Tax Issues – including exemptions and evaluations, and the seemingly random way these are implemented.
  • Public Utilities – and how they can impede a town or city’s Master Plan for development. At present utilities can legally build almost anything, anywhere they want, as long as they purchase the property at “fair market value.” (The Colony is dealing with that issue now.)
  • Paying for Infrastructure – Without raising taxes, how will towns and cities cope with the increasing costs of maintaining and improving infrastructure (i.e. roads, utilities, etc?)

Copper Canyon is considering hosting the next meeting and extending the invitation to more municipalities in Denton County.

TML Workshops Discuss a Variety of Current Issues for Cities/Towns

  • Written Financial Policies. The TML Budgeting and Fund Accounting Presentation recommended that each town have their own inclusive written financial policies. (Copper Canyon has some fiscal policies that are traditional but not committed to writing. For instance, at the end of each fiscal year, the Town Council usually rolls over any unspent funds into our road construction account.)
  • Many cities are having difficulty recruiting police and fire personnel. Currently, few applicants meet the required standards. So, many municipal departments are coping with vacancies in the number of First Responders they need. 911 call centers are also having trouble recruiting qualified applicants as telecommunicators-dispatchers. Call Centers operating understaffed can result in fewer “work breaks” for the dispatchers, who often must function effectively and repeatedly with very stressful emergency calls.  Some call centers have resorted to “mandatory overtime” to be able to staff all shifts adequately.
  • Social Media comments by Staff and Elected Officials can incur liability for their respective municipalities. Written policies on social media comments by an employee or elected official, in that capacity, can limit a municipality’s exposure to liability.

Should the Town solicit bids or execute renewal contracts for outsourced service contracts?

At a recent council meeting Council Member Dave Svatik requested that this issue be discussed.  The cumulative price of Copper Canyon’s four outsourced service contracts adds up to $50,000-$60,000.  He asked the Council whether or not the Town should invoke a budget requirement that every 3rd year multiple bids should be received for each of the outsourced contracts.

The four current service contracts are for Animal Control Officer (Brian Hall, the Animal Guy), Building Inspector (Steve Koehler), mowing and maintenance of Town Hall grounds and the Orchid Hill round-about (Mario Najiera),  and mowing of the right-of-ways of the Town’s major periphery roads – Copper Canyon Road, Orchid Hill Lane, Chinn Chapel Road, and Woodland Drive from Chinn Chapel through the west end of Town Hall grounds (John Brothers).

Council Member Valerie Cannaday suggested that the Town ask whether or not the contract price is competitive. Town Administrator Donna Welsh noted that she did call another animal control company.  However, the prices for the various services were much higher than what the Town is paying today.  Donna also noted that it is often difficult to find a reliable service provider for a town as small as Copper Canyon.  Town Attorney Welch noted that if the contract is less than $25,000, no formal bid is required.

Mayor Sue Tejml said that going with the contractor with the lowest price is not always the best choice.  Skill and prior historical knowledge of issues in Town can be very beneficial.  It is also appreciated if the independent service contractors have a track record of few complaints about their service from Town residents.  The Town considers both minimal complaints and a competitive price when renewing service contracts.

Coyotes appearing in Copper Canyon in large Packs!

Last spring Deb Valencia Schmitz observed an extremely large pack of 12 coyotes in her pasture adjoining her lake on High Meadow Arabian Ranch.  (The horse ranch acreage is located west off of Chinn Chapel Road.)  Deb currently has two very small colts.  She is concerned that they may be vulnerable to coyotes once they leave the protected stalls in her barn for open pasture.  Deb’s neighbor  Carol Morin was able to video tape on her smart phone a very large coyote in the pasture behind her home on Estates Drive.  These coyotes could be traveling up and down the railroad right-of-way.

Last month Paula Castillo saw four coyotes together on Landseer Drive.  Her neighbor Dale Andrews has tried to scare coyotes off their mutual street with a bull horn.  My husband Emil Tejml and I regularly see single coyotes crossing the front and back lawns adjacent to our home on our 10 heavily wooded acres on Orchid Hill.  We assume the lone coyotes are going to and from the seldom disturbed Corps of Engineers land adjoining our home acreage.

The two universal observations of Copper Canyon residents who are currently seeing the coyotes “up close and personal” is that (1) they appear to be very large and in good physical condition (forget the traditional “scrawny and mangy” coyote) , and (2) they do not appear to be afraid of humans.

The heavy spring and recent fall rains have fostered an abundance of small game (rabbits, mice, etc.) for the coyotes to feast on.  And, increasing development in Copper Canyon and adjacent areas are reducing the undisturbed forest and creek bottom land that have traditionally provided secluded home territory for the coyotes.

The Town’s contract with our Animal Control Officer Brian Hall does not include dealing with wild animals.  (Most municipal contracts don’t provide for wild animals in towns.)  Brian said coyotes are too savvy to be caught in common wild animal traps and leg traps are illegal for humane reasons.

If you observe two or more coyotes together near your home or crossing our Town roads, please call Town Hall and report it.  (940-241-2677 Ext 0)  Please keep close watch over any pet cat or small dog that is outside your home early in the morning or at dusk or in the evening.  It would also help if you do not leave unconsumed pet food out of doors overnight.  Doing so invites wild creatures such as possums, raccoons, foxes and even coyotes to drop by for a late night snack.

Death of Col. Richard D. Hill, Sr., USA Retired, and Copper Canyon Resident for 49 Years.  (Obituary by his daughter and Town resident Laura Hill.)

“Richard D. Hill died quietly in his sleep on October 25, 2016 from complications of Alzheimer’s.  [NOTE:  Dick was in hospice care in his home in Copper Canyon, lovingly cared for by his wife Natalie Hill and daughter Laura Hill.]

Richard was born in Amarillo, May 27, 1922 to Grover B. and Jennie B. Franklin Hill.  He was a Boy Scout and attended the 1936 Scout Jamboree.  Later he was a Cub Scout Pack leader for his sons.  He graduated from Amarillo High School in 1940 and played football for the Sandies.  He then enrolled in Texas A&M University in the class of ’44 and played football for coach  Homer Norton.

In 1942 he enlisted in the Army and in between training he would return to the A&M campus.  He attended OCS at Ft. Benning, Georgia and graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant on September 26, 1944.  He went to see his parents in Washington, D.C., where his dad was Under Secretary of Agriculture in the Roosevelt administration.  He met Natalie Nichols at a party given by his mother.  They married December 21, 1944 in Falls Church, Virginia.

Richard was eventually sent to Hawaii to Fort Shafter and then to Japan with the Occupation Forces.  While in Hawaii and Japan, Richard coached and played football for the MidPac Raiders, an Army team.

Richard and Natalie returned to the A&M campus in 1946 and finished his studies and graduated in 1947. He and Natalie then moved to Dallas where he worked for Sears and owned Dallas Helium Balloon, Co.

Richard served 5 1/2 years in the regular Army and 30 years as an active reservist. He was the 90th infantry Division Army Reserve Commander in Dallas under General Earl Rudder, Class of ’32.  In 1993 he was inducted into the OCS Hall of Fame at Ft. Benning, Georgia.

Richard moved to Denton County in 1967 to direct Camp Soroptimist (now Camp Summit).  He was an active member of the Denton Aggie Club.  He was an active lifelong Methodist and attended Tyler Street UMC in Dallas and Argyle UMC for the last 46 years. He was a lifetime member of PTA.

He is survived by his wife, Natalie, his children Laura, Rick, Lewis (DIL Jennifer) and six grandchildren Rachel (Aaron), Sarah, Dean (Anna), Paul, Olivia and Meara.  He is predeceased by his parents and his siblings.

The family wants to thank everyone who helped with Richard’s care for the last 4 years.

Donations can be made to Alzheimer’s research, Methodist Church, Texas A&M or Amarillo High School Alumni Association.”

NOTE:  Thanks to the mother-daughter team of Natalie and Laura Hill, who also volunteered as Copper Canyon Crime Watch Block Captains during those 4 years!

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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