I am writing this on Labor Day When only a few businesses are open around the square in Mason. Even with a day off, there are a number of things that have to happen around town to keep all of the City services running and in good shape. For example, the Waste Water department has to spend some time everyday, even on holidays and weekends, making sure that the sewer plant is functioning properly and checking that there is nothing blocking up any sewer lines. The garbage truck is not running today and the Landfill is closed, but they will have to work a little extra hard to keep up with all of the weekly activities in just the four working days this week. Also, the Electric department does not have a specific activity that has to happen on a day off, but like all of the crews they are always on call and if there is a emergency due to an accident or any kind of power outage they will get to work and keep after it until the problem is solved and everything is working perfectly again. Like all of the crews, I have seen them working for hours after regular schedules in some of the least comfortable conditions in order to fix a problem and resume regular service to our town.
The Water department is one of the most critical to keep running, even on “days off”. Every day they have to monitor the water levels in our storage systems so that we never run out of water, they have to be sure all of the wells are pumping properly, and they have to take samples at several locations around town to be certain that the water is safe and clean for all of us to drink and use. Last week we had one extra problem that we were concerned might affect everyone when the submersible pump in one of our most dependable wells went completely out. For several days the water crew spent extra time monitoring the water levels and we quickly investigated and found a replacement pump and made sure that it was in town as soon as possible. Then, with the invaluable help of Charlie Hoerster, the well piping and pump were pulled and the new one was put back into the well along with monitoring probes. Within a few days what could have been a significant problem was under control, but our crews worked hard to make sure that it did not cause additional problems for everyone. During that time one of the particular problems the staff faced was to be sure that our available water supplies were sufficient so that we did not need to announce and enforce a mandatory water restriction, and we never fell to that level. However, we are looking at our current ordinance that addresses water usage and drought concerns, and determining what we may need to change to address issues of water use and availability with the uncertainty of future water resources. This summer, even with the heat and dry periods, we have not seen a need to impose additional watering restrictions, but most all of the surrounding areas have and we are looking to the future and working to ensure that future generations of Mason residents will have the water that they will need.
There was another interesting event last week that I would like to share and comment on. As Mayor I am the “listener” when a lot of different people want to talk about some aspect of our town; it is in my opinion a vary significant part of the job for anyone when you are elected to any public office. On Wednesday morning last week I was over at the Civic Center for a meeting and noticed a couple I am very familiar with getting RO water at the dispensing location there. I and John Palacio, who was with me, stopped to visit for a minute and they were very vocal about how pleased they were with the seal coat paving that had be done on their street. This is a regular maintenance procedure that our Street department oversees to prolong the life and usefulness of our City streets, and while we do not do so every year, this summer we have worked to prepare streets and had several streets top coated. I was pleased to hear a resident praising and complimenting the work and the result; however, over lunch I was reading this newspaper when I noticed the only letter to the editor that was complaining that his street was not done well and suggesting that the City was negligent in getting the street properly paved. Within a couple of hours I was aware of two very different opinions of a City job that was done effectively the same in most of the neighborhoods in town. Now I know the letter writer, and I sincerely accept his criticism, and I am aware of the street he lives on and some of the unusual issues there, but most of all I believe that every citizen has a right to express themselves and complain, when necessary, to see if something better can be done to resolve their concern. I have many times asked through this column for people to let me know what you think about the issues Mason faces, and I will continue to solicit your suggestions and opinions and I will see if there is a way we can address your problems. In regard to the paving issue, I looked into it that afternoon and the streets were prepared in the same manner throughout town and it should be noted that the streets selected for seal coating are usually the most travelled or the ones in worst shape, and adding a top coat will never smooth out a street as well as completely replacing the existing pavement. The City did spend a good deal of money for this work, and our staff are pleased with the results, but until we have a great deal more money than we currently have to spend on the wide variety of problems and projects we work on, it is unlikely that we will be able to completely “repave” any of the streets in Mason. There are just too many issues we have to deal with to be able to address the all of the concerns we want to see resolved.
In that same comment though, if you have concerns we still want to hear from you. Next Monday, Sept 9 at 5:30pm in the Civic Center, the City Commission will be meeting in regular session and will be glad to have any comments anyone in the public wishes to make. It is a particularly important meeting in that we will be discussing and approving the City Budget for the coming year and setting the property tax rate for the City portion of your tax bill. We have been discussing this for the past three months and I have asked for your input more than once, but if you have something that you want to question or some concern or suggestion you want to express, this is one of the very best times and places to voice your opinions. Mason is a great small town, and even with the restrictions of limited population and rural location, we can be proud of our town. Working together we can continue to bring improvements to Mason and make this the very best hometown in Texas.
Your friend and neighbor, Brent Hinckley