By Kathi Bliss
Municipal Judge Jim Gillis announced his retirement in March. Having finished his 11 years of service on the bench, Gillis left the Lockhart City Council with the responsibility of filling his shoes (or his robe).
After a brief discussion on Tuesday evening wherein Mayor Pro Tem John Castillo expressed concern that the nomination process had not been inclusive enough, the Lockhart City Council voted to replace him with former Municipal Judge and former police chief Frank Coggins.
Court Administrator and Associate Judge Bonnie Townsend informed the council that she was not interested in taking over the bench on a permanent basis, and offered the recommendation for Coggins as Gillis’s replacement.
“I’m just interested in making sure the process is fair, and that anyone that didn’t know that [Gillis] is retiring has the chance to apply for the position,” Castillo said as he asked his colleagues to table the discussion and reconsider it later in the month.
However, City Attorney Peter Gruning said it would be difficult for an inexperienced candidate to take over the judicial duties, and that if not an experienced judge, any viable candidate should have extensive experience in the criminal justice system.
Councilmember Angie Gonzales-Sanchez, although she said she would be willing to table the discussion, offered her support for Coggins in the position, moving to approve the recommendation.
Councilmember Kenny Roland agreed with her position, but said he would like to see the City Manager put a more exact process for appointment of the municipal judge in place, to ensure Castillo’s wish that in the future, a broader base of candidates would be able to vie for the position.
In the end, the council approved Coggins’s appointment 5-1, with Castillo voting against the appointment. Councilmember Richard Banks was absent from the meeting.
In other business, the Council heard information about an upcoming event at the Lockhart Municipal Airport for wounded veterans.
“Operation Dustoff,” a shooting skills event slated to take place on Saturday, May 10, will allow wounded veterans the opportunity to participate in ground and aerial shooting events, in an effort to “dust off” their shooting skills.
In connection with the training and competitive event, the soldiers will have the opportunity to serve the community by participating in hog hunts in Caldwell and Hays Counties.
Follow future editions of the Post-Register for additional details on Operation Dustoff as they become available.
City Planner Dan Gibson presented the biannual report on the collection of water, wastewater and road impact fees.
Although collections are still behind what is necessary to complete the capital improvement project for which the funds are earmarked, Gibson said collections have increased over the last six months, which he says is an indication that the economy is beginning to rebound.
In brief news:
White read proclamations recognizing April a Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month, Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and Fair Housing Month. He also read a proclamation declaring the week of April 6 – 12 as Victims’ Rights Week.
They heard information about the City’s 2012-2013 financial audit, which shows the city in a stable financial position.
The panel briefly discussed a zoning change for a piece of property on Highway 142 at the intersection of SH-130, which will be rezoned to Industrial Light District, in preparation for the construction of a manufacturing and sales facility for Fashion Glass and Mirror.
The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Room at Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public and are televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.