Classic Cable personnel meets with Council

A question and answer session by representatives of the local cable provider brought forth several notable discussions during Tuesday’s Brady City Council meeting. The public hearing was brought before the Council to enable citizens to get answers for questions regarding their current and future cable service. Both the Council and Classic Cable agreed to this public forum to provide both sides with information needed to assist in the pending signing of a service contract for the next several years. Assistant Coordinator for McCulloch County Emergency Management Rick Melcer, began the discussion by addressing the Council with concerns about the current status of the cable company’s ability to adequately provide emergency information to all channels in the local viewing area. He went on to say that based upon facts and findings of research, the City currently does not have a contract with Classic Cable for their service. Based upon the minutes from previous council meetings as well as ordinances, “. . .the City of Brady does not currently have a contract with Classic Cable,” said Melcer. He went on to state that it would be in the best interest of the City to approach the pending service agreement with the intention of providing and agreeing containing a valid and complete contract. In defense of the lack of a valid and current contract, Classic Cable representatives Vickie Flowers stated that even though no actual contract has existed since 1996, the local franchise had acted and performed its daily business under the assumption that a contract was implied. In the public hearing, several citizens voiced complaints of poor picture quality on channels 4, 6 and 9, and the desire to receive certain channels to Classic Cable representatives Flowers and Ron Gardner. After hearing various questions, the duo addressed each question and responded to any and all audience statements. The most talked about problems concerned poor picture quality on several major network channels. Gardner, the newly assigned area manager for Classic Cable explained how the location of Brady in proximity to the transmission sources is the main reason for the declination in picture quality. “When the pickup point is almost 100 miles from the transmission point, the picture quality is very succeptable to atmospheric and weather conditions,” said Gardner. Questioning the availability of other television broadcasts, specifically ABC affiliate WFAA Channel 8 out of Dallas, Flowers and Gardner explained to the audience how individual channels are broadcast and transmitted. “With regard to which channels are received, cable companies are mandated to carry channels which are broadcast out of cities which make up their areas of dominant influence,” said Gardner. “Based upon requests we have had to try and get WFAA back in Brady, we researched the possibility and the cost to each subscriber would be $3.60,” commented Flowers. “That cost would be substantially higher if not all subscribers were interested in adding the channel and paying the additional fees.” Flowers also detailed the upcoming digital cable upgrade that is currently being done at the local substation. Based upon the information she provided, when the digital rebuild is completed presumably in the next 60 days, subscribers will be given the option of adding numerous additional channels. According to Flowers, the digital rebuild will also improve the picture quality as well as provide two-way high speed internet access to interested parties. “Right now we have two-way access in a very small and limited area,” said Flowers. “The digital rebuild will bring high speed access to all cable customers who want to subscribe to it.” Shifting gears to the ordinance section of the Council meeting, a discussion over the validity of an ordinance reading caused substantial confusion among the mayor and council. On the agenda as the second reading of an ordinance authorizing water service outside city limits for James and Colleen Friar, the question arose that since this item was actually tabled at the last meeting due to the lack of necessary documentation, the current item on the agenda should have been read as the first reading. Councilman Larry Sharp addressed the Council by reading the item in the City Charter that dealt precisely with the issue at hand. “The Charter reads that before the first reading of the ordinance, all necessary documentation must be presented.” James Friar addressed the Council and expressed his dissatisfaction with the way in which they (the Council) had handled the situation citing that he was being discriminated against. “Why am I the first person to be required to have an engineering study in order to get water service outside the city limits'” asked Friar. “I provided all of the information that was requested of me, but I still cannot get water.” Councilman Sharp answered Friar on behalf of the Council by stating that he has simply been trying to follow the City Charter, and what the Charter states is that all of the necessary documentation must be present prior to the first reading of the ordinance. Since the first reading was tabled at the last meeting due to the lack of proper documentation, he believed this reading needed to be named as the first reading and not the second. After several minutes of discussion amongst themselves, Councilman Donald Barley was asked his opinion of the situation. “Unfortunately, as much as I hate to admit it, I have to agree with Mr. Sharp,” said Barley. The question at hand is not about the availability of the proper information and documentation, rather it is about the way in which the ordinance was written on the agenda. The discussion ended when a motion was made to place the issue on the next council agenda as the first reading of an ordinance. In a brief list of action items, the Council awarded a bid to Angelo Pump Service for an automated vehicle fueling system. The bid was one of four bids received and was accepted at a cost of $10,500. Daymon McBee also addressed the Council with a proposal to consider involving the possible use of his building by the city. Recently vacated, the building is located in close proximity to other city offices and could possibly be used to serve various purposes. The Council also approved an extension of the current lease agreement with Texas Aerocolor, Inc. The airplane painting business temporarily housed in the hangar at Curtis Field is still negotiating the construction of a new and permanent facility. The city agreed to extend the lease as long as there are no conflicts in leasing schedules. City Manager Gary Broz addressed the Council in his City Manager’s Report and updated the audience on the current status of the new rates for the water billing as well as the progress of the downtown construction that has crews moving and repairing utility lines. He also told the Council that TxDOT had performed the nine-month evaluation of the airport project and a few minor problems and repairs would soon be corrected by the contractor. In a closing statement directed to the council, Rick Melcer commented on the events that transpired during the course of the evening meeting. “The two issues heard here tonight are perfect examples of the council and the city staff not doing their homework,” he stated. “The problems heard here rest right in the lap of the city government.”

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