City remains on Atmos Steering Committee, approved memorial plaque

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The Madisonville City Council, in a nimble, 15-minute long meeting Monday evening whipped through the month’s agenda with little disagreement or discussion on any items.

The closest to disagreement in the night revolved around where to place a memorial plaque for Bobby Rae Nellums, a water department employee killed in an on-the-job accident in 1993.

“I’d like to see it in front of this building right here,” said council member Jerry Harper, expressing his desire to see the memorial at City Hall rather than near Lake Madison Park’s Splash Pad. The Splash Pad is open only from April 15 through Labor Day, Harper noted, which means a City Hall installation would provide more public access for a plaque.

Earlier this year, the council shot down a proposal to rename the Splash Pad for Nellums, with mayor Bill Parten suggesting it would set a dangerous precedent for other city facilities.

City Manager Camilla Viator said she would explore the City Hall option for the council.

The council spent as much time on the Nellums memorial as any other agenda item Monday, approving the wording for the plaque as “In memory of Bobby Nellums, who tragically lost his life on July 27, 1993 while carrying out his duties as a City of Madisonville employee. He will forever be remembered in our hearts.”

The council also discussed holding a dedication ceremony when the plaque is installed.

Viator also disclosed Monday that she has contacted “a couple” of architects to start discussion about renovations of the church building on 206 N. McIver owned by the city.

In other actions Monday, the city agreed to continue its membership in the Atmos Cities Steering Committee, committing to a 5-cents-per-capita charge for a fee.

The Atmos Cities Steering Committee is an organization that represents cities and towns in natural gas supply pricing and other issues raised when dealing with a monopoly supplier. Dallas-based Atmos Energy Corp. supplies natural gas utilities to Madisonville and many other areas. The company ranks as one of the largest gas providers in the country, with more than three million customers.

The Atmos Cities Steering Committee represents more than 150 municipalities in Texas who receive gas utility from Atmos in rate cases, rulemakings and legislative efforts that impact natural gas rates.

“They represent us in all things, and for five cents per person, that’s pretty cheap,” Prater said during the discussion.

The council also authorized Viator to explore a new Information Technology contract with The City Technology Group, a local vendor for IT services.

Viator said the new contract, which would replace current vendor McLane Intelligent Solutions, would provide more cost-effective and on-hands consulting specially designed for City Hall and the Madisonville Police Department.

“It’ll be a little cheaper on the monthly bill, but more effective as well,” Viator told the council. No specific finances were discussed.

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