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GO KIDS Articles

Youth program gets city support

Kelly Prew, Staff Reporter
© The Huntsville Item
January 10, 2007

Huntsville’s Promise has a reprieve from the city as council unanimously agreed to fund $30,000 for the continuation of the program for one more year.

Huntsville’s Promise director Scott Atnip delivered what proved to be a compelling pre-council workshop during which Atnip provided statistics of goals accomplished and what’s on the horizon for the program.

“There are two numbers I am most proud of,” Atnip told councilmembers. “In 2004-05, the Faith in Action (program) was able to repair 14 homes for low-income families and the elderly. In 2005-05, that number rose to 40.

“In 2004-05, there were 2,000-plus volunteer hours recorded, and in 2005-06, that number was 3,400.”

Huntsville’s Promise received accolades for accomplishments during the regular meeting Tuesday after fighting for allocations since the city’s proposed budget year eliminated the city’s financial and operational support for the program.

The program will now stand on its own as a nonprofit organization, receiving $30,000 from the city for staff salary and benefits, programming, office expenses and developmental asset research and resources, to include a Search Institute Survery of Huntsville ISD.

The survey will mirror a similar survey in 2001 and will help establish needs of youths in the community.

Councilman Mickey Evans, who is, for the most part, against the city contributing to nonprofit organizations, gave a suprising “yes” vote to the agenda item.

“I voted because (Councilman) Mac (Woodward) is willing to give them another year, and I am pleased Huntsville’s Promise is going back to its base mission,” Evans said.

“I do not object to giving to a program ... in order to mobilize a community, but not when it’s about mobilizing City Council for funding,” Evans said. “I believe Huntsville’s Promise is about encouraging community spirit.

“The point of giving (money to nonprofits) is to get them to stand on their own legs, and not to perpetually give.”

Councilman Gary Crawford, who has spent 25 years with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said his experience indicates programs like Huntsville’s Promise are worth the money.

“Thirty thousand dollars is a drop in the bucket for TDCJ,” he said. “You can save $30,000 or you can save (at least) one kid. Look at it like this, you can pay me now or you can pay me later.”

The allocation, also approved Tuesday, will come from youth and recreation programs, general fund future appropriations and CenterPoint settlement monies.

The City Council also approved an interlocal agreement between the city and Huntsville Independent School District for Huntsville High School’s use of the Huntsville Aquatic Center.

Under the agreement, which must also gain approval from the school board before it goes into effect, the high school swim team would be designated as the primary users of the pool facility during the “off season” months of September through May.

During that time, the high school would be responsible for paying any utility costs generated from heating the pool in addition to purchasing any items needed (i.e. toilet paper, equipment or other materials) to host events such as practices or tournaments.

Stephanie Brim, the city’s director of community services, said the contract will go into effect immediately once it meets approval by the school board later this month and will be re-evaluated and sought for re-approval each year.

“We will have to look at the budget and try to be open to the public as many hours as possible,” Brim said Tuesday. “The high school swim season will not fall during the summer, and the Huntsville Lakers will (begin in May) and hold meets in June and July.

“We will try to have the pool open to the city during afternoons and evenings and hours in the mornings if I have funds available to staff it.”

At the very least, Brim said the city is obligated to 600 public swim hours throughout the swimming season.

Council agreed to delay the painting of the 2 million gallon hydro pillar water tower on Palm Street for at least the next budget year and authorized the painting and maintenance of two 1 million gallon ground storage tanks at a cost not to exceed $620,155.

The maintenance of the two water storage tanks is a very specialized affair, says Public Utilities Director Bill Daugette, requiring contracted specialists to perform the multiple sandblasting operations before painting can be completed as well as the various interior and exterior structure work needed.

“We will have to remove and replace the petroleum-based coating on the inside of the tanks with double sandblasting,” Daugette said.

A domed, aluminum roof will also be an option for both storage tanks for a line-item cost of $50,000 each.

The rehabilitation project will bring Huntsville’s tanks into compliance with 1988 state coating requirements.

Also Tuesday:

The purchase of a stationary mount trash loader was approved for $115,115.42.

Council opened Tuesday a public hearing concerning a disaster recovery grant. No one spoke.

A joint workshop between the Comprehensive Plan Action Committee and other city committees was announced for 9 a.m. Saturday at City Hall. No public comment will be allowed, but the public may attend.

The next CPAC public meeting will be Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Walker Education Center.

For a full agenda and minutes approved from last meetings, log onto www.huntsville.tx.us.

The next regular City Council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 23 at City Hall.