Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge City Commission swears in commissioners, honors Durham, takes step to becoming film-friendly city

Breckenridge City Commission swears in commissioners, honors Durham, takes step to becoming film-friendly city
June 12
16:05 2024

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Before moving on to their regular business meeting, the Breckenridge City Commission honored outgoing Place 2 Commissioner Rob Durham and swore in the recently elected commissioners and mayor at the June 4 meeting.

Breckenridge Mayor Bob Sims, left, presented outgoing commissioner Rob Durham with a proclamation and plaque for his service on the commission. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

“We’re here tonight to express special recognition to Rob Durham and honor him for his distinguished eight years of service and dedication to the city of Breckenridge,” Mayor Bob Sims said, reading the proclamation honoring Durham. “Rob began his service to the city of Breckenridge in 2016 As Commissioner, as well as Mayor Pro Tem, sharing his valuable knowledge and leadership with his fellow commissioners and with the citizens of the city of Breckenridge. His years of service have been marked by exemplary dedication to the best interests of our community and the public … safety of our citizens.”

The proclamation was presented to Durham, along with an etched glass plaque commemorating his years on the commission.

Following the presentation, Mayor Bob Sims and Place 1 Commissioner Blake Hamilton were sworn in. Both were re-elected in the May election. (See pictures below.) Then, Greg Akers, incoming Place 2 Commissioner, was sworn in. Akers and Durham both ran for the office, with the final results being 99-91 in Akers’ favor. Sims ran unopposed, and Hamilton won over his challenger, Tony Patterson, 146-41.

Additionally, at the meeting, the commissioners appointed Place 3 Commissioner Vince Moore to serve as Mayor Pro-Tem, a position on the commission that serves in the mayor’s role if the mayor cannot attend a meeting, event, etc.

Film-Friendly City

The commissioners approved an ordinance setting guidelines for filming in Breckenridge. Having such guidelines in place is one of three requirements for a city to become certified as a film-friendly city by the Texas Film Commission. The other two requirements are for City staff members to attend a workshop, which they have done, and to provide the commission with photos of potential film locations, which the City of Breckenridge is prepared to do.

“So this is really fulfills one of our strategic goals of promoting economic development and promoting Breckenridge as you know, a tourist destination,” City Manager Cynthia Northrop said. “It’s very low key, we recognize that. … “We may get some stuff (or) we may not, but we’ll be on the map.”

The guidelines authorize the City Manager to permit the use of any street, right-of-way, park, public building, equipment, or personnel for commercial uses in the filming or taping of movies, television programs, documentaries, commercials, training films, or other media, and related activities pursuant to the requirements of this article. Additionally, the City Manager can prohibit all filming or order cessation of filming when necessary to promote public health, safety, and welfare.

The ordinance also sets the permit requirements and the rules once a permit has been issued, such as notifying residents who might be affected by a film project in their neighborhood. For example, the guidelines state that the permit applicant will provide a written description of the schedule for the proposed production to the owners, tenants, and residents of each property in the affected neighborhood(s) or areas where filming is to occur.

Click here to see the complete ordinance.

Last year, the city of Strawn in the southwestern corner of Palo Pinto County was used to film scenes for the miniseries “Lawmen: Bass Reeves,” which premiered on Paramount+ in November 2023. Some scenes were filmed in Stephenville and other Texas communities, even though the story is set in Arkansas.

Splash Pad Plans

One of the things that many people have said that they’d like to see in Breckenridge is a splash pad at the City’s Aquatic Center/Pool, and the City Commission took steps toward making that a reality at the June 4 meeting.

A splash pad is generally defined as a water-based recreation area for people of all ages to enjoy. It often has fountains or other spraying mechanisms for spraying participants with water, as well as a drainage system that makes sure there is very little standing water, so there is little risk of drowning. They are sometimes called interactive fountains, spray pools or splash fountains.

At the May 7 City Commission meeting, the commissioners approved the proposed “Breckenridge 2024-2040 Park Plan,” which is a part of the Breckenridge Comprehensive Development Plan that was presented in full at the June 4 City meeting.

Priority #1 of the Park Plan is to “Implement improvements to the Breckenridge City Park,” and the first item listed under that priority is to install a splash pad. The plan suggests that the City consider applying for a grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to help fund the project.

At the June 4 meeting, the commissioners took three steps toward achieving that goal:

  1. Conducted a public hearing regarding the TPWD grant application.
  2. Awarded an administration contract to Public Management Inc. for application preparation and administration services for a 2024 Texas Parks and Wildlife Local Park Grant.
  3. Approved Resolution 2024-14 designating Jacob & Martin to provide engineering/architectural services for the 2024 Texas Parks and Wildlife Grant and authorized the City Manager to negotiate a contract.

The City received two submissions for the engineering/architectural services — one from Jacob & Martin and one from Enprotec/Hibbs & Todd Inc. (eHT). The City used a scoring system to grade the two proposals, and Jacob & Martin scored higher. The commissioners followed the recommendation of the City staff and awarded Jacob & Martin with the contract.

Jacob & Martin was represented at the meeting by design engineer Emma Davis Meek, who is a graduate of Breckenridge High School and was the Class of 2016’s valedictorian. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering and has been working for Jacob & Martin since January 2022.

The City plans to apply for a $750,000 grant, Northrop said at the May 7 meeting. The City would have to provide matching funds, and Northrop said the City can pay for that with interest proceeds from the Certificates of Obligation 2023, which the city commissioners approved in August 2023.

Rough estimates for the splash pad, pumps, electrical, etc. are between $500,000 and $650,000, according to information in the June 4 meeting agenda.

The City also is planning to refurbish the wading pool, aka “kiddie pool” or “baby pool,” at the aquatic center, making it meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. Initially, the City had considered replacing the kiddie pool with the splash pad, but because it was funded by a grant, that’s not possible, Northop said at the May 7 meeting. Therefore, the kiddie pool will stay in place and the splash pad is being planned for a spot south of the main pool and east of the kiddie pool.

The Breckenridge Texan will have more information about the Park Plan in an upcoming article.

Vehicle & Equipment Use Policy

Although the City of Breckenridge has had a limited policy in place, there has never been a formal Vehicle and Equipment Use Policy, Northrop said. At the June 4 meeting, commissioners approved the policy presented by the city staff.

The new policy covers topics such as driver license and insurance requirements, accident reporting, and vehicle maintenance.

According to the policy, “No personal or political use of any city property, materials, supplies, tools, equipment, or vehicles is permitted. If an employee is in doubt about a circumstance, he or she must check with the appropriate department head before proceeding. Violations of this policy may result in discharge and possible prosecution.”

However, some City positions that are on-call outside of normal working hours will be considered for take home vehicle use. “Take home vehicles privileges are for employees who reside inside the county and no more than 30 miles from their respective office/facility. At no time shall family members or friends ride in the vehicle except in the furtherance of an official city act related to the official duties of the department or law enforcement task,” the policy states.

The policy also covers non-vehicle equipment, such as tools, cell phones, computers, email and internet service.

Comprehensive Development Plan

Representatives from Public Management Inc. and Enprotec/Hibbs & Todd Inc. (eHT) presented the Breckenridge Comprehensive Development Plan to the City Commission. The plan was the result of a $55,000 grant that the City of Breckenridge received from the Texas Community Development Block Grant Program.

The plan covers a variety of issues important to the City of Breckenridge fulfilling its Vision Statement of becoming “an appealing, family-centered environment inviting growth, investment and tourism.” It offers an analysis of, plus goals, objectives and/or projections for, several topics, including Housing, Population, Land Use, Street System, Water System, Wastewater System, Drainage System, and Recreations and Open Space.

The agenda item was just for the presentation, and the plan was not voted on at the meeting. It will be presented again at the July City Commission meeting for approval.

The Breckenridge Texan will take a more indepth look at the plan in an upcoming article.

Ken Coignet, center, and Morgan Verette, right, with Public Management Inc., address the Breckenridge City Commission about the Comprehensive Development Plan that they developed for the City. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Employee of the Month

Diane Latham, the City of Breckenridge’s Finance Director, right, was presented with the Employee of the Month award for June 2024 by City Manager Cynthia Northrop. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Northrop introduced the June 2024 Employee of the Month, Diane Latham, the City of Breckenridge’s Finance Director.

“You know, when I think of Diane, I think of perseverance,” Northrop said. “She has been with the city for 35 years, and she does an outstanding job. She has worked in probably almost every department that the city has … so she’s our institutional knowledge on everything. I think people would describe her as kind; she is will do anything for anyone. She is detail-oriented, which is a good thing because she worked with a lot of numbers.”

At the May meeting, Sherry Morgan, who works in the front office of the City administration office, was the Employee of the Month.

“Sherry (has) been here for about three years. And she is hardworking, she is trustworthy, she is dependable,” Northrop said. “She’s willing to do anything asked of her. And I think probably one of the most outstanding characteristics that she brings to the table is her compassion. And she’s very calm and very level-headed. And when we’re dealing with people at the front who might be upset about different things, she’s the one that calms them down and listens and is very respectful of them, and really shows them compassion.”

At the May Breckenridge City Commission meeting, City Manager Cynthia Northrop, left, presented Sherry Morgan with the Employee of the Month award. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Other business

Also during the June 4 meeting, the Breckenridge City Commission took care of the following business:

  • Approved a work order to authorize eHT to provide engineering services to assist the City of Breckenridge with plans, specifications, bidding documents, and construction management associated with the 2024 Paving Project.
  • Approved the capital purchase of a dump truck for the Street Department.
  • Approved the second reading of Ordinance 2024-07 updating the City of Breckenridge’s Schedule of Fees.

Breckenridge Mayor Bob Sims is sworn in by City Secretary Jessica Sutter at the June 4 City Commission meeting. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Breckenridge City Commissioner, Place 1, Blake Hamilton is sworn in at the June meeting as Mayor Bob Sims looks on. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Sage Diller with eHT talks to the Breckenridge City Commission about the Street System portion of the comprehensive development plan. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Breckenridge’s new police chief, Blake Johnson, is sworn in by City Secretary Jessica Sutter at the May 7 City Commission meeting. Johnson started his job as Breckenridge’s top cop at the end of April. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Newly elected Breckenridge City Commissioner Greg Akers is sworn in at the June 4 meeting while City Manager Cynthia Northrop looks on. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

 

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