During Thursday’s commissioners meeting, a number of community members spoke up during citizen’s comments about a potential ordinance that would name Marshall a sanctuary city for the unborn.

A number of other community members spoke up during the meeting in favor of the ordinance, including April Roberts, who said that she would like to see Marshall become a sanctuary city for the unborn.

“The purpose of this is not to restrict women’s rights, but rather help women who choose the right of life for their baby,” Roberts said.

She said that she would like to be sure that no abortion clinic is opened within city limits, which would cause women who are in search of the procedure to drive far away, a time period that may allow them to reconsider their decision, according to Roberts.

Sara Whitaker and Joshua Perry also addressed commissioners about the ordinance, speaking in favor of the potential ordinance citing their personal Christian religious beliefs.

Community member Melissa Al Amadi spoke out against the ordinance during the meeting, stating that abortion is a necessary procedure for total women’s healthcare.

“It may surprise you to hear that I don’t like abortion, and in a perfect world we would not need it,” Al Amadi said, “But that is not the world that we live in, and until we are able to accomplish these things it is necessary.”

She added that statistics show that by limiting women’s access to abortion does not prevent abortion from happening, but actually increases the number, and raises health risks due to unsafe procedures.

Community member Raymond Fogg also spoke during citizen’s comments, addressing the commission about police brutality and discrimination against people of color, and asking the commission to have more oversight into the Marshall Police Department.

Fogg asked that citizens have more say over the level of force their police department uses, such as eliminating officers placing knees on citizen’s necks or punching them in the face to subdue them.

“Here in Marshall we can achieve social justice for all,” Fogg said.

During the meeting

No one spoke during a public hearing on the proposed tax rate for the 2021 budget for the city, which was approved by commissioners at the rate of $0.54 per $100 valuation, the same as the last six years.

Commissioners also unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to adopt the 2021 budget for the city. For a detailed outline of the proposed budget visit www.marshalltexas.net.

An ordinance to amend Chapter 31 “Water and Sewer” Article III, titled, “Industrial Wastes” by deleting sections 31-18 through 31-32 and replacing them with new sections 31-18 through 31-33 was also approved during the meeting.

Public Works Director Eric Powell presented on the ordinance to the commission, which would put the city in compliance with regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency by granting regulatory officials the authority to require entities discharging industrial waste into the POTW system to comply with these regulations.

An ordinance to amend the 2020 budget to provide funds for projects already approved by the commission was also approved at Thursday’s meeting. These projects include $1,750,000 in tax note funds being used for a number of improvement projects for the city owned facilities, $12,500 utilized for the Census program and $185,223 utilized from the EMS ESD fund for new vehicles.

The second reading of a separate ordinance that allotted funds for the 2020 annual budget for projects approved by the commission was also approved during the meeting.

A resolution in support of the re-designation for State Loop 390 the U.S. 59 relief route and future I-369 was also approved during the meeting.

The proposed project, organized by the Texas Department of Transportation, has been in the works since 2014 and calls for the construction of a new location roadway between U.S. 80 and I-20 on the south side of Marshall.

The project, as it now stands, would be heading north on US Highway 59 and heading east from the existing highway approximately 12 miles south of Marshall, providing for interchanges at I-21, State Highway 31, Buck Sherrod Road, and US Highway 80 then following the Loop 390 route to the north and connecting back to the existing US Highway 59.

A resolution to begin early voting in the upcoming November election four days earlier as also approved during the meeting, which brings the city in compliance with order by Governor Greg Abbott to extend early voting to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Texas.

A contract extension for Liquid Caustic Soda for the Water Treatment Plan in Marshall was also approved during the meeting. Powell said that this is the final extension for this treatment, and that the Public Works Department will be looking at new pricing for all of its chemical use, including caustic soda, in early 2021.

Police Chief Cliff Carruth also present to commissioner the Marshall Police Departments plan to add a no left turn sign from Northbound Indian Springs onto East Travis during school zone hours.

Carruth said that this would help prevent a traffic build up during pick up and drop off times at Sam Houston Elementary School, which have been delayed this school year due to additional testing required to protect students against the spread of COVID-19.

Both Commissioner Vernia Calhoun, a former teacher at the MISD, and Commissioner Marvin Bonner, spoke up during the meeting in approval of Carruth’s plan.

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