By Alicia Lacy
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce did not let bad weather stop it from conducting a forum for the nine City Council candidates.
Although the forum was scheduled to be held at the Copperas Cove Civic Center, the chamber went digital. The forum was canceled due to inclement weather, but forum questions were forwarded to each candidate via e-mail and their answers were posted on the chamber's Web site.
The nine candidates are Cheryl Meredith and Charlie Youngs, vying for Place 1; Michael Zehr and Chuck Downard for Place 3; Danny Palmer and Joseph Solomon seeking Place 4; and Konrad Kohler, Bill Stephens and David Wilson vying for Place 5.
The Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee formulated seven questions for the candidates concerning the development of the city, the U.S. Highway 190 bypass, the city's small-business climate, the relationship between Copperas Cove and Fort Hood and Copperas Cove's representation through its elected officials on the state and national levels.
A big question on the minds of Cove residents is the U.S. 190 bypass that has been in the works for several years.
The chamber asked the candidates how they would ensure completion of the project.
"We must be willing to pay our fair share, and I think the city is willing to do that," Youngs said.
"We recognize that this will cost the city and taxpayer funds. However, this same money will be returned to the coffers of the city in short order by increased revenues that are sure to be gained by potentially new and larger businesses moving to Cove because of this reliever route," Kohler said.
Council hopefuls Wilson, Youngs, Downard, Stephens, Zehr and Palmer gave similar responses stating a relationship needs to be forged between the city, the Texas Department of Transportation and elected state officials to keep the project in motion until completion.
"We must take every opportunity to remind them that this is still a very important project for our community," Youngs said.
Another question answered by the candidates about the expansion of the city's recreational facilities.
In the Nov. 4 election, Cove voters rejected Proposition 2, a bond issue for a new multipurpose recreational center.
Youngs, Zehr, Downard, Palmer, Kohler, Stephens and Wilson all support the expansion of recreational facilities for the city.
"We need to have plans to expand our facilities in phases and the money budgeted for a realistic expansion without new taxes or fees to the citizens," Stephens said.
Downard's response was to ask other area government entities for financial support with the project.
Because Copperas Cove is a growing community with a small-town feel, many businesses are locally owned. Another question was what actions the council could take to improve the climate for small businesses.
The responses of Youngs, Palmer, Zehr, Downard and Stephens included a partnership with the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation.
"As with any small city or even going back to earlier times, the small-business owner has been and continues to be the backbone of any city, large or small," Kohler said.
Kohler said some area establishments lacked "curb appeal."
To read all the forum question and the candidates' full responses, or to ask a question of the candidates, go to blog.copperascove.com.
Contact Alicia Lacy at email@example.com or (254) 501-7476.