The Melissa City Council met Tuesday night and held a special check presentation ceremony with Melissa resident Jasmine Eastman and Sam’s Search, a Melissa-based non-profit organization. Council also listened to a presentation from city staff regarding the online-based Fathom Consumer Usage Portal and the Water My Yard program, and amended the city’s personnel policies to include, among other changes, the prohibition of open carry firearms in Melissa City Hall.

Council and Sam’s Search presented a check to Eastman for $6,450 to assist Eastman and her family in the purchase of a medical alert service dog trained to use its naturally heightened sense of smell to alert the individual or caretaker of low or heightened blood sugar levels. The service animal is specially trained to alert Eastman and her family of situations calling for immediate medical attention. An example was given in which Eastman would be in a deep sleep and not hear the alarm implanted in her arm. Eastman’s service dog Dexter would then begin attempting to wake Eastman and her family.

"We started out as fundraising for JDRF," explained Sam Davis, founder of SamsSearch.org, a non-profit aimed at providing citizens of Melissa help with the purchase of medical alert dogs. "We wanted to do something more direct, more local. We want to have a local impact," Davis said of the organization’s beginnings.

Davis and those involved with Sam’s Search support all diabetes organizations, but Davis felt that his efforts would be best served "really helping the locals, anybody we can come into contact with," with the expenses involved in purchasing much-needed equipment, which drastically improves the quality of life for those living with the different types of diabetes.

The founders and board members of Sam’s Search plan to expand the non-profit organization far beyond providing financial assistance for medical service animals for Melissa citizens living with diabetes in the future.

"It would be not just dogs because those are not as common," Davis said. Davis went on to talk about the pumps and devices his son must wear around the clock in order to monitor and keep his blood sugar stable, "[They’re] $7,000 and we have great insurance," Davis estimated.

He also spoke of the economic struggle families living with diabetes must grapple with in order to provide themselves and their loved ones with the regular healthcare they need in daily life. Despite having exceptional health insurance, Davis and Eastman’s families are like many others living with diabetes that grapple with daily and yearly medical expenses totaling upwards of $30,000.

In other business, city staff presented council members information regarding the use of FATHOM and demonstrated its online customer usage portal, which details exact information regarding a resident’s water usage statistics and offers environmentally friendly usage tips to customers. City staff spoke of the Water My Yard conservation program, which is aimed at fixing many of the common water usage oversights by larger communities. A YouTube video made to introduce and educate residents of Richardson during the implementation of the program was shown.

At the recommendation of City Manager Jason Little, Council decided to dismiss a proposed resolution authorizing the city manager to execute a facilities agreement with Hunter Melissa, LP.

"Let it die," Little said of the resolution, explaining that there was a new compromise being prepared for proposal.

Council member Sharon Weideman enthusiastically seconded the motion to approve a resolution authorizing the city manager to execute an interlocal agreement with the North Texas Municipal Water District for sewer infrastructure.

Council also approved an ordinance amending the City’s personnel policies and procedures manual regarding absences or leaves, work standards, travel and meals policy, as well as a revision to the city’s violence in the workplace policy to include the City’s stance on the controversial open carry laws which became effective in January.

"The Texas Open Carry law, this allows us to put in our personnel policy manual that only people who are employees are the ones allowed to carry a gun within city facilities," said Gail Dansby, Finance Director for the City of Melissa, "So that says that you may get to open carry somewhere else but this is our policy for the city. We are a safe workplace."

Council was presented with an artist concept of the proposed monument to be dedicated and featured in the concept plan design for City Hall Park Veterans Plaza. Little added that the monument may also include dedications to first responders along with every branch of the US armed forces being represented.