Harker Heights had an eventful 2013, with several new stores opening, new council members elected in Heights and Nolanville, and longtime City Manager Steve Carpenter retiring.
The year also was marked by legal proceedings, from the continued delay of demolishing 19 houses on Lynn Drive to the conviction of former Nolanville Mayor Charlie Lee Stewart.
The landscape changed greatly during the past year in Heights as several new stores opened. With a booming population and several new home developments expanding, 2013 was a good year for the city. Seton Medical Center Harker Heights celebrated its first birthday June 18 and Sam’s Club, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers and Rooms To Go opened for business.
The Harker Heights City Council on Feb. 12 approved renaming the library to honor former mayor Stewart C. Meyer who died in late December 2012 at the age of 91. Meyer, who served as mayor from 1993 to 1997, played a pivotal role in making the city what it is today, friends and colleagues said.
The future of 19 vacant houses on Lynn Drive still hangs in the balance more than a year after the city approved demolition due to substandard health and safety issues. The 164th District Court judge controls their fate since owner David Buttross filed a temporary restraining order against the city in January to stop the demolition.
Motorists traveling on U.S. Highway 190 started to move a lot faster in Harker Heights.
In March, the Texas Department of Transportation installed new 75 mph speed limit signs just east of Knight’s Way. The highway is part of more than 500 miles of roadways across Texas to get increased speed limits.
Spokesman Ken Roberts said TxDOT began performing speed studies in September 2011 to determine what roadways could safely accommodate the increased speed.
New council members
City Attorney Burk Roberts swore in new Place 1 Councilman Hal Schiffman on May 14 after officials bade farewell to John Reider. Schiffman earned 484 out of 716 total votes to win the Place 1 seat over Stu McLennan and Donald Sandlin. After running unopposed for Place 3, Pat Christ secured his fourth term in office, garnering 599 votes. Schiffman’s and Christ’s terms will expire in 2016.
Nolanville voters chose Dave Brackmann, 55, as their newest councilman.
He received 54 votes, or 65 percent, while his opponent, Ernesto Servan, received 29 votes, or 35 percent. Residents also voted to reauthorize the local sales and use taxes at the rate of 0.25 percent to provide revenue for maintenance and repair of municipal streets.
Place 2 incumbent Sherri Morales ran unopposed for re-election, garnering 62 votes.
Duane G. Hampton resigned from his council seat and Servan was appointed to fill it until the next election this year.
Serving as president more than 15 years, Bill Kozlik is retiring from the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 31. He helped add more than 600 members and implemented numerous programs, including the Harker Heights Food and Wine Festival; Vision XXI, a leadership development course; and the Coffee Connection, a morning networking mixer.
FM 2410 widening
In addition to road construction along U.S. Highway 190, area residents were impacted by crews widening the FM 2410 bridge at U.S. 190 by adding additional lanes, one in each direction.
The closure and bridge widening on the east side is scheduled for completion this spring, weather permitting, according to a TxDOT news release.
The TxDOT construction project, which started Aug. 19, will add a left-turn-only lane, said Mark Hyde, the city’s public works director.
On each side of the bridge, a 6-foot, 8 inch-wide pedestrian sidewalk will be added.
Water tower installed
A new 150,000-gallon water tower was built on the ridge behind the Evergreen Estates subdivision off FM 2410. The water tower serves the upper elevations of the city, including Evergreen, The Ridge subdivision and adjacent undeveloped ridges, Hyde said.
The existing water pump station on Comanche Gap Road that serves the Ridge subdivision will pump into the new 150,000-gallon elevated tank.
After more than a decade of focus groups, forums and public hearings, the proposed Heights Overlay District No. 1 along FM 2410 was approved by the council Dec. 10.
The overlay will follow a zoning ordinance amendment and set standards for current and future buildings, parking, signage, landscaping, screening, buffering and street appearance over the next 20 years.
Harker Heights City Manager Steve Carpenter announced his retirement Sept. 9, after 30 years in municipal government. He is credited with guiding Heights from a small bedroom community into a viable retail-fueled city, teaming with shopping centers and restaurants.
The council hired his replacement, David Mitchell, following a 1½-hour interview Oct. 29.
Harker Heights Municipal Court’s Teen Court received a Spotlight award, naming it the best teen court in Texas, during the Teen Court Association of Texas’s annual conference Oct. 15-18 in Allen. The Harker Heights Municipal Court conducted a teen court program since before 1979 and currently handles about 75 to 80 cases a year.
Former Nolanville Mayor Charlie Lee Stewart, 59, was sentenced Nov. 12 to 60 years in prison for continuous sexual abuse of a child.
A Bell County jury found Stewart guilty Oct. 2 of repeatedly raping a 12-year-old female relative over the course of several months in 2011 and 2012. Deliberation took about 30 minutes. He will serve his sentence without the possibility of parole, prosecutors said. Stewart was arrested in July 2012 and the Nolanville City Council removed him has mayor in September 2012 after he missed meetings while incarcerated in Bell County Jail.
Contact Vanessa Lynch at email@example.com or 254-501-7567.