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City council pushes for stronger message to governor

Joshua Baethge,
The Anna-Melissa Tribune
Anna's Interim Public Safety Director Ray Isom, right, and Interim Fire Chief Dan Wood, left, conducted a promotion ceremony naming the City of Anna's first three Driver/Engineers at the Sept. 8 Anna City Council meeting. From left D/E Carl Konosky, accompanied by Susan Bryant; D/E Cody Watson, his wife, Stephanie, and daughter; and D/E Ronald Morgan, accompanied by his, father Ron Morgan, pose for a photo after being presented with their new badge during the ceremony. The three are the first to reach the rank.

During its regular meeting on Sept. 8, the Anna City Council decided to table a vote on a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott stating its opposition to his mask mandate. The issue will likely be considered again at the next council meeting.

The proposed letter would have said that the Anna City Council believes that, due to the highly varied circumstances and incidents of COVID-19 across the state, local officials are “more than capable” of making decisions on local health issues. It went on to say that the authority on whether to mandate face coverings belongs to the city.

The letter ended by requesting that the governor formally revoke Executive Order GA-29, which requires masks statewide.

“I probably would have liked to have been a little bit more stern with this,” Mayor Pro Tem Lee Miller said. “The reality is I’m not sure how much difference this is really going to make.”

Council Member Kevin Toten followed up with even stronger words, saying the letter sounded weak and didn’t take the stand that it was intended to.

Mayor Nate Pike said the mask mandate was another example of the state government usurping the authority of local officials. He spoke briefly with City Attorney Clark McCoy about the city’s other options for opposing the governor’s order.

Ultimately, the council decided to call for executive session to discuss the legal matter behind closed doors. When they returned, they announced the decision to take the issue up again at the next meeting.

Budget approved

Also at the meeting, the council formally adopted the city’s new fiscal year budget and property tax rate. Mayor Pike praised it as the best-prepared budget he had seen during his time on the council.

Fire Department Honorees

Interim Public Safety Director Ray Isom and Interim Fire Chief Dan Wood honored three Anna Fire Fighters who were recently promoted to the rank of Driver/Engineer.

Carl Konosky, Cody Watson and Ronald “RJ” Morgan each received their promotion badges flanked by family.

“This is a very special moment for the Anna Fire Department and for the City of Anna,” Isom said.

The department also recognized Atmos Energy representative John Manganilla for his help donating helmet cameras to the department. This will allow the fire department to enhance training programs, incident analysis processes, fire investigation and recruitment efforts.

“It’s one of the very best training tools that we can get,” Wood said. “It’s amazingly efficient for getting the footage of real emergencies and real fires that we can use for training.”