By WAYLON CUNNINGHAM
Board Members Rick Hall and Eric Van Natter of the Economic Developer Corp. will not seek re-appointment after their terms expire this month. In their place will sit Eric Bailey and Jamie Etzkorn.
The announcement was made at the EDC meeting Sept. 21, following an executive session.
“We appreciate your service, both of you,” Chapman said, “y’all have been excellent, excellent friends.”
Director John Clark’s term will also expire at the end of September, but he has agreed to stay.
City Council accepted the EDC’s recommendations at their meeting on Monday. The new members will serve two-year terms, expiring in September 2019.
Bailey is the Chief Operating Officer at TEX-MIX, a regional concrete supplier in Leander. He is also a former president of paving and construction contractor with Oldcastle Materials Texas.
Bailey had previously been considered for the position, Chapman told The Independent after the meeting, but at that time they felt he was traveling too much with Oldcastle.
“He’ll be a good representative for our heavy industry people,” Chapman said.
Etzkorn is an attorney in Liberty Hill’s downtown. Her law firm, which she began in 2009, lists among its legal specialties both business incorporation and real estate law.
Etzkorn is also a board member of Operation Liberty Hill, and a Liberty Hill Girl Scout Brownie Troop leader.
In May, she was a candidate for Liberty Hill ISD Board of Trustees.
The two were chosen from eight applicants, which Executive Director Lance Dean says were all examined during the executive session of the meeting. Two were not eligible because they did not live within the city limits, extraterritorial jurisdiction, or the school district.
Applications remain active for two years after submission.
Van Natter, a local real estate agent, was absent from the meeting, and so unavailable to provide details on why he was not seeking another term.
Hall, who sells health insurance, however, responded, “See me in a month”.
Sign kiosks coming soon
National Sign Plaza has signed a contract with the City, and will soon be installing kiosks throughout town with interchangeable sign slots for builders and subdivisions.
The months-long project nearing completion was announced by Dean, who said that the only remaining step is for National Sign Plazas to submit a proposed list of installation locations.
Plans for the kiosks were announced in March as a way to standardize the signage around town. In particular, it was thought by city officials that these kiosks would help remove the incentive for businesses to use “bandit” signs. These temporary signs used in the real estate industry, are described by city ordinances as potentially creating traffic hazards and threatening the “overall appearance and economic value of the landscape.”
National Sign Plazas will be responsible for the installation and management of signs. There will be no additional cost or maintenance on the part of the City.
Digital upgrades planned for Municipal Court
The Municipal Court building, where City Council and many other official boards meet, is getting a technological makeover.
“I have in my hand what I hope will be the final document,” said Dean, holding a quote for hardware, software, and services priced at $10,000.
The upgrades include microphones at the dais, and digitized agenda software. A set of tablet readers will replace the packet agendas that City Council, EDC, and other city board meetings have used up to now.
“We’ll get away from having 5,000 pages printed every couple of weeks,” Dean said. “We’re going green, to an extent.”
The microphones will record meetings and allow the digital agenda to be timestamped as discussion moves through it. The resulting audio file will then be navigable using the timestamps.
Additionally, the projector and standing screen will be replaced by a ceiling-mounted projector and motorized screen, which Dean said is probably “twice the size” of the current one.
Costs will be split among the city and its boards, with the EDC paying roughly $2,000, Dean said. The vendor is reportedly one the city already does business with.
EDC President speaks on Christmas Festival funding missteps
Chapman spoke about the EDC’s funding of the 2017 Christmas Festival and the 2017 Sculpture Garden Celebration, after a miscommunication last month sidetracked funding talks.
“Evidently we had plenty of misunderstanding during that last meeting,” Chapman said. “We thought all the people involved were happy, and that their needs were all met.”
Last month the EDC had voted to set aside $11,000 to fund electrical wiring work at Lions Foundation Park, where both events are scheduled to take place. It had not been made clear to the events’ organizers that this work was to be done in lieu of other, more traditional funding, such as cash contributions or reimbursements for receipts.
Days after the meeting, the disconnect was brought to a head at a special City Council session, which was attended by EDC Board Members Chapman, Hall, and Clark.
The Council voted to allocate $6,100 for the Liberty Hill Christmas Festival and $5,000 for the Sculpture Garden Celebration using funds from the EDC.
Chapman said “that has moved forward, that’s a done deal, and while the Council was in discussion, the Mayor allowed me to discuss with them too, and I appreciate that.”
Additionally, the Council appointed Liz Rundzieher to attend EDC meetings as an ex officio, or non-voting, member.
Thursday was her first day, though she sat in the audience along with Mayor Connie Fuller.
Chapman reiterated that electrical wiring at the park was “still a good project.”
The walking trail at Lions Foundation Park is the site of the Christmas Festival’s Trail of Lights. The lighted trail, which is sponsored by the Chamber this year, needs dependable electrical service in order to support the number and type of displays planned.
“We’ll handle that differently next time,” Chapman said. “We’re all on the same page.”
In other business last week, business owner Michael Biggs was approved for a $500 grant, to go toward a new sign for his downtown bakery. The new storefront sign will reflect a name change to Malted Grains, from its current name Liberty Hill Bakery & Cafe. The application was given final approval by the City Council Monday.
The next meeting of the EDC Board will take place at 5 p.m. Oct. 26. Regular meetings are normally scheduled on the third Thursday of the month, but the Board decided to push the next meeting back because Dean will be attending a trade fair.