City Manager Jeff Ellington recommended the council decline the request from Justin McMillian, AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer with the Red Cross.
Ellington explained that the Civic Center doesn’t have shower or kitchen facilities.
Also, liability due to children possibly trying to play on the retractable seating was an issue Ellington and City Attorney Mike Martin brought up.
Ellington suggested the Red Cross check into using Camp Gilmont, eight miles northeast of Gilmer, which is set up to host groups and which was an emergency shelter during Hurricane Katrina.
Endorsement of Ellington’s recommendation by the council was unanimous.
The council also approved an agreement with Gator on the Square, a new Cajun restaurant on the northwest corner of the square where the Corner Bistro was located, to let Gator put tables on the sidewalk to the north of the building, for outdoor seating in good weather.
Ellington said the restaurant already had insurance to cover that, and agreed to take tables inside when they closed up at night.
“We want to support business,” Ellington said, recommending the agreement. He added that he had eaten several meals there and food, for those liking Cajun-style meals, was good.
Ellington recommended to the council that, in the future, have the Gilmer Area Chamber of Commerce take care of hiring the electrician who checks holiday lighting and wiring on downtown businesses during the Christmas season.
He said that in the past, the electrician billed the city and the city paid it. Because of liability concerns, he said, it would be better to have the electrician contract with the Chamber (or its Yulefest Committee), even if the city supplies the money to the chamber for it.
“If an electrician breaks through a ceiling, I don’t want the city liable for it,” Ellington said.
He said the Chamber had agreed to take the matter before its board, and if they are agreeable, he will bring the matter back to the council at a future meeting.
The council approved acceptance of a Homeland Security grant of $8,500. Ellington said the city will have to spend the money on equipment first, then get reimbursed by the federal agency. When Police Chief James Grunden comes back to the council after that is done, the city will ask for a budget amendment to cover it.
The council also approved a recommendation from Ellington to ban parking along Bob Glaze Drive, a block-long city street between Walmart and the Gilmer Civic Center off U.S. 271 N.
Ellington said that was a bad place for people to park, since that is the main exit from the Walmart parking lot.
Code Enforcement Officer Danny Lancaster will put up no-parking signs there.
The council approved purchase by the Gilmer Police Department of equipment to record calls and radio traffic for service to the police and fire departments. (The city handles its own dispatching.)
“We don’t record, but it would be good if we did,” said Ellington.
Mayor Buck Cross, a former Upshur County Sheriff, said that the Sheriff’s Office installed such a system when he was there, and “it’s worth its weight in gold.”
For example, he said, there were cases where a woman would call in and claim her husband was beating her, and when a deputy arrived, deny there was a problem.
“We have the tape to show they did call it in,” he said.
The council accepted the lower of two bids, for $5,139, for a system for the Police Department. Winning bidder was DFW Communications. The other bid was for $9,788.