Public works dilemma continues

By Chase Jordan - [email protected]
Garland commissioners and assistants work on a water leak. -

GARLAND — Mayor Winifred Murphy was ready to discuss a public works contract with the Board of Commissioners to find a solution for an ongoing issue. Ironically a lot of them were absent on Tuesday because of a busted water pipe.

Murphy was unable to go over a contract with Envirolink since her colleagues were working to fix a water leak near Shamrock Square Apartments. According to officials, the incident occurred when a pipe was accidentally cut by a business contracted by CenturyLink. About 10 residents were affected during a short period in the afternoon.

In a town with a small tax base, elected commissioners are assigned to committees to help with infrastructure needs throughout town. Some of the committees include finance, safety, streets and buildings. For S.J. Smith, it’s a duty he’s used to. He was one of the commissioners assisting with the leak.

“That’s the way it works sometimes,” Smith said after the meeting was cancelled. “If something needs to be fixed, you got to go do it. We couldn’t have the meeting, sit there and have the water leak.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the meeting has not been rescheduled. During a recent session, commissioners agreed to use Envirolink to handle public works and water/sewer duties. Final and official approval is pending a review by Board Attorney Michael Porter. The company provides full-service water, wastewater, and public works management services to more than 100 municipal, county, industrial and private clients.

Garland worked with the Bailey-based management company for five years, before the agreement came to an end last year. Next, commissioners made a decision to hire a full-time employee to perform administrative, technical and supervisory work, but they were unsuccessful in the search. The town recently had two employees retire, including one who worked with the town for nearly two decades.

To fill the void, several commissioners help residents with public works tasks. Former Commissioner Ralph Smith, Commissioner S.J. Smith and Mayor Pro-Tem Haywood Johnson assist with maintenance duties throughout town. Following Ralph Smith’s resignation in June, Johnson was reassigned as head of Public Works, with S.J. also placed on that committee in a temporary capacity.

Murphy alluded to Garland’s predicament during a Saturday emergency meeting at the beginning of July.

“People don’t understand how small Garland is,” she stated. “A lot of commissioners don’t have to work because they have paid staff. We don’t. So when our employees resign or one commissioner leaves, it’s a very, very significant void for us.”

Garland commissioners and assistants work on a water leak. commissioners and assistants work on a water leak.
Water problem prompts cancellation of Garland meeting

By Chase Jordan

[email protected]