Mineral Wells Area News

Building Streets Takes Building Bridges

Building Streets Takes Building Bridges
September 02
18:45 2022

By David Montgomery

In what appears to be a historic first, the Mineral Wells City Council joined the Palo Pinto County Commissioner’s to discuss plans for roads, water, and economic development. Both County Judge Shane Long and Mayor Raegan Johnson began the meeting giving updates, including the city’s upcoming comprehensive plan and adopting a No New Revenue rate for the upcoming budget year.

Long’s initial topic of discussion was the new county offices that have been under a lengthy renovation and are more than a year over their initial timeframe for completion.

“We are very, very close,” said Long, referencing when the new Palo Pinto County Courthouse Annex at 100 SE 6th Avenue would open.

Long said computers systems were being installed the same day and he was hopeful the end was near.

“It’ll be this month,” said Precinct #4 Commissioner Jeff Fryer.

The meeting between the two governments marked a turning point in the relationship, gaining comment from City Council Member Doyle Light.

“I’m excited to see the cooperation. I know the citizens of Mineral Wells are excited to get to begin to feel like they’re a part of the county again,” claimed Light.

“I wholeheartedly agree with you on that. I think the days of ‘us and them’ hopefully are over and we can move forward with a whole concept of plans that benefit the entire population of Palo Pinto County,” replied Judge Shane Long.

The new cooperation was not the product of happenstance. Judge Shane Long explained that discussions had been previously ongoing between leaders that have strengthened relationships, helped stave off misunderstandings, and create a bridge of understanding.

Following the items on the agenda, City Manager Dean Sullivan briefed the joint councils on the Street Improvement Plan that intends to repave all 132 miles of road inside the city limits in five years. In the first year, the plan would involve the county assisting in repaving 10 miles of road per year.

“What are we gonna do if we don’t start now and start to work together in areas where we can,” explained Sullivan. “We are beyond deterioration. We’re into an atrophy of our roadways.”

“Everything that’s good for the city of Mineral Wells is good for Palo Pinto County,” continued Sullivan. “The people of Mineral Wells are Palo Pinto County taxpayers first.”

After healthy discussion about the plan, the City Manager asked if they would be interested in coming to the table to work out an agreement. The question was met with the nods of all Commissioners at the table.

“My general consensus… is that yes, the commissioner’s are willing to work with your crew and assist and see how this goes as the years go by,” replied Long. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us to collaborate together.”

The teamwork continued into conversations about economic development as both councils have seen a steep rise in development of homes. Fast growth is creating issues with roads and water. Roads that were previously used mainly by farmers are now seeing hundreds of cars, creating road traffic and wear.
“They weren’t built for subdivisions, they were built for that farmer.” said Mike Reed, County Commissioner Precinct #2.

While the concern of county roads echoed the earlier discussion, the issue of water foreshadowed the next agenda item.

“One of the other things that seems to be a big issue, obviously is the water,” commented Long.

With hundreds of lots being built, how current water solutions will fulfill that need is a difficult question.

“We all know that these aquifers are not endless,” remarked Long.

While the issues of drought are affecting us now, the Turkey Peak Reservoir is a light at the end of a tunnel. The new reservoir, once complete, will serve as a 15.9 billion gallon lake to service the growing water needs of the Palo Pinto County Water District.

While a solution to fund the project is still being discussed, the City is confident that the project is moving forward. The two groups had a productive first meeting, and it seems it will not be the last. The issues facing the county, and in turn the city, will continue long after the roads and Turkey Peak Reservoir are complete.

“At some point, the city and the county will need a bigger water treatment plant to service the additional demand,” remarked Sullivan, mentioning the current facility is more sixty years old. He explained the winter storm of 2020 brought to light just how dilapidation of the treatment plant.

With solutions in mind and challenges to face, the newly formed cooperation between the County and the City appears to be the teamwork needed to tackle the issues that come.

About the Author: David Montgomery is a Mineral Wells resident passionate about local politics. He wants to see transparency in government and foster community involvement. Married for over 12 years with 3 children, David works full time at a church where he leads a team of volunteers in utilizing technology to spread the gospel. His hobbies include craft coffee and BBQ.

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