By Robert Nathan
Killeen Daily Herald
Tim Hancock took over as mayor Tuesday, taking the reins from outgoing Mayor Maureen Jouett at an evening City Council meeting.
"I really appreciate the opportunity to serve," Hancock said. "I pledge to do the best of my ability to be the best mayor I can."
Hancock, who served previously on the council, overwhelmingly won the May 13 mayoral contest, receiving about 74 percent of the 1,855 votes to defeat challengers Randy Sammons and Tonya Horton.
Jouett and outgoing council members Eddie Vale Jr. and Scott Cosper said they were honored to have worked with the city and welcomed the newly elected council members, Larry Cole, Billy Workman and Otis Evans.
Following the swearing-in ceremony, the council designated Councilman Ernest Wilkerson as mayor pro tem, a position he has held since Hancock, the former mayor pro tem, stepped down to campaign.
Before its farewell ceremony, the council named James Butler as the new director of public works. Butler had been acting public works director. Previously, he was director of public works at Fort Hood for 23 years and served as Killeen's city engineer for five years.
"We found the best man for the job was the man doing the job," City Manager Connie Green said.
In other business, the council approved the final plat of a 2.144-acre development on the corner of Polk Street and Westcliff Road. A resident from the affected subdivision addressed the council, representing 17 other homeowners. He argued the development is limiting access to their homes.
After lengthy discussion, the final plat was approved with the stipulation of limiting parking during the construction to allow room for emergency services.
The council unanimously approved two other final plats, one located on the south right of way of Central Texas Expressway, east of Florence Road and adjacent to the Elite Hospitality Addition.
The other is located east of the Deerwood Estates Subdivision, north of Stagecoach Road.
In a workshop prior to the council meeting, members discussed code enforcement and issues affecting the Killeen Police Department.
Code Enforcement Officer, Robert Retz told the council that high grass and weeds on private property and graffiti are among the major violations code enforcement is seeing. Other code enforcement violations Retz discussed had to do with the general care of homes, zoning violations, abandoned vehicles and illegal dumping.
Retz said staff turnover, absent property owners, varied and unique violations and weather conditions are factors affecting the city's code enforcement and abatement rate.
There are only eight code enforcement officers with 45 square miles to cover.
Councilman Fred Latham addressed code violations the city itself is violating. He said many city-owned parking lots in the downtown district are not properly paved, one of them was the parking lot at Fire Station No. 1.
"It's wrong for our city buildings to not comply with this when we are enforcing them on everything else," Latham said. "We need to find parking spaces for these vehicles down the street or any other city property in violation."
Following discussion of code enforcement, Police Chief Dennis Baldwin discussed issues affecting the police department and laid out a five-year plan covering traffic, family violence, licensed establishments, larcenies and burglaries.
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