At the City Commissioner’s virtual meeting on Thursday officials approved an agreement with the Marshall Independent School District for the use of a 2-acre piece of land for the new Marshall Animal Shelter.

Commissioners first addressed the project by hosting a public meeting on an amendment to the official zoning map regarding a 4-acre tract of land in the Thomas Iden Survey, commonly known as 2502 East Travis Street, which is owned by MISD.

With no community member speaking during the meeting, commissioners unanimously approved the changes to the zoning map.

City Manager Mark Rohr said that 2-acres of this land is to be donated to the city of Marshall and will be the new location of the Marshall Animal Shelter.

The use of this land for the new shelter will be granted by MISD in return for the construction and maintenance of a new road on the adjacent 2 acres of land, which Rohr said will cost an estimated $55,000 to construct.

Rohr said that the construction of the new street is in order to “address a problem that they (MISD) have dropping off students in the morning and afternoons” and allows for a decrease in traffic, and an increase in safety for MISD students and staff.

Commissioner Amy Ware said that both as a commissioner, and as a parent of a student in the school district, she is happy to see the city and MISD working together to help address both of those entities’ problems.

The agreement also offers the city the rights of first refusal on the second two acres of land where the road will be constructed, as an assurance that down the line the new shelter will not become land locked, according to Rohr.

He said that this new deal accomplishes three things, great cooperation between the city and MISD, provides a location for the construction of the new Marshall Animal Shelter, and allows MISD to address traffic problems and increase safety.

Commissioners also approved a contract with Scott Rectenwald for city attorney during the meeting. The contract for the city attorney legal service is for 25 hours of legal service a month at the rate of $4,000, which if exceeded by the city will be billed at a rate $150 per hour.

Rohr said that the city has also reimplemented the regular procedure of, unless in an emergency, staff would only contact the city attorney during designated office hours.

Community and Economic Development Director Wes Morrison also presented at the meeting on an ordinance amending the Chapter 24 entitled “Signs and Billboard Regulations” specifically Section 24-9 entitled “Free Standing Signs” which was approved by commissioners.

The amendment excludes free standing pole signs specifically located within 3,000 feet of Interstate Highway 20 right-of-way from any height or area requirements currently in place, which restrict signs to 40 feet and area to 250 square feet.

Morrison said that this is in response to different businesses looking to relocate to Marshall, who have expressed concerns over how strict the sign regulations are around the highway.

Marshall Police Chief Cliff Carruth also presented to commissioners during the meeting regarding a resolution authorizing the city to apply for funding under the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program through the Office of the Governor, which was approved unanimously.

The city of Marshall plans to apply for $10,000 to cover “anticipated overtime expenses” and another $51,608 for the purchase and installation of emergency equipment for COVID-19 response.

Director of Public Works Eric Powell presented on bids for the 2020 street improvement program during the meeting, which commissioners approved.

Powell said that on May 5 commissioners took bids on the program, which got them two potential base bids. He suggested approval of a base bid with Rayford Truck & Tractor at $966,570 for 2 inch overlay, covering 6.6 miles of street improvement.

Powell said that this project would cover about 80 percent of the planned street work in the 2020 program, with flexibility so that if the funding becomes available later in the year, the city is able to extend the bid to cover the final 20 percent of the project.

Funding for the 2020 street improvement plan will be pulled equally from two sources, with $483,285 utilized from both the General Fund and the Street Improvements Sales Tax Fund.

During the meeting Powell also presented to commissioners on the results of the water meter pilot program which began in August 2019.

Rohr said that 100 state of the art meters were installed to replace older, less advanced meters, which the city that tested for a three and six month time period.

Powell said that after comparing the readings for 2019 to the 2018 readings from the old meters, for September through November of 2019 there was an increase in 578,000 gallons measured and from September 2019 through February 2020 there was an increase in 672,000 gallons measured.

Rohr said that the first set of meters has been a great success, and that in taking measures like this the city is able to be more accurate in its readings.

He said that with the success of the first 100 meters, the replacement of the rest of the meters in Marshall for the more updated versions will be taking place in the next two years.