LIBERTY - Things are churning across the city, and according to Mayor Carl Pickett and City Manager Tom Warner, things appear to be moving along nicely.
Last week the duo delivered the State of the City Address to a large audience at the Dayton Chamber Luncheon held at the Liberty Center.
Pickett opened the event, thanked everyone for attending, and shared a story about Whataburger, who catered the event.
The Liberty location burned to the ground several years ago. During the displacement of their employees, the company created a work program in the community that allowed their employees to work at other area businesses and through volunteer opportunities until their new location opened, keeping them paid and employed.
“I thank the Whataburger people for having that business philosophy because it really worked out well,” said Pickett.
Warner then took to the podium and laid out details on several areas of importance, with infrastructure topping the list.
“That really handles the basis of what most municipalities do,” said Warner.
He spoke about the city’s strategic plan created by the council in 2021 and gave five focal points that city leaders envisioned.
• Infrastructure (Capital Improvement Program)
• Quality of Life
• Economic Development
• Organizational Excellence
“With those five elements came specific initiatives,” Warner continued, “for the most part, all of the infrastructure are the building blocks of everything that they outlined.”
Under the Capital Improvement Program, the city has six significant focuses.
• General Improvements (Liberty Center, Police Department, Fire Department, Downtown)
• Recreational (Parks, Golf Course)
• Streets and Drainage
• Water & Wastewater Utility
Most municipalities only have five of those focus areas, and few have electrical, which sets Liberty apart in some ways and gives them a major operational revenue source.
Liberty has long been a part of the Sam Rayburn Municipal Power Agency, an electrical co-op with the cities of Jasper and Livingston, allowing them to buy and sell electricity to residents in each respective community.
“We try to be fair with our rates, and as Tom (Warner) mentioned, there is a nice surplus of revenue at the city level from our electricity operations,” Pickett said later in the presentation.
Both men indicated that revenue allows Liberty to keep its tax rate lower.
Warner spoke about projects at the Liberty Municipal Airport, which include improvements to the runway, wildlife fencing, repairing existing hangers, and a new hanger at the site.
Warner spoke on how some of those funds dedicated to the airport and other projects included grant money and working relationships with other agencies to serve the community best.
“We are doing our best to partner with TxDOT, Texas Department of Emergency Management, Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Department of Health and Community Affairs, trying to match our money with their money and get the most out of it we can,” said Warner.
He also pointed to studies looking into extending the runway in the future.
Liberty has also been hard at work with general improvements in recent years to the city hall and Humphries Cultural Center and hopes to make improvements at the fire station and expand the second station that is currently unmanned off US HWY 90.
That second station would come in at about $7 million, with about $5 million coming from the Texas Department of Community Affairs.
“We feel it’s important to have a station on the other side of 90, simply because of the railroad,” said Warner.
The city also continues work to get the Liberty Municipal Golf Course open to the public and anticipates it will be up and running by April. The driving range, putting, and chipping greens are already operational and open to the public.
Warner said the city is also continually working on street and drainage improvements, including a study with Chambers County to identify issues.
The city is also working to improve the water and wastewater facilities.
Finally, Warner discussed some of the development making its way to the area, with a pair of subdivisions in the works on the north side of town and a developer that has purchased property off the Bypass and Lakeland Drive.
“We do see development opportunities,” said Warner.
This was only a snapshot of the work going on across Liberty, and things look to be in good hands.