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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

City Manager gives praise to Harker Heights

Sara Escobar

Evening Star

“Epic” and “Beautiful” were the words used by City Manager David Mitchell in a press release on August 31, 2017. “I couldn’t have predicted the epic and beautiful response to the catastrophic damage and flooding of Hurricane Harvey. Neighbors helping neighbors—people from Texas and from many other states bringing supplies and even boats to search the floodwaters for those in need. Electrical power companies from Texas and other states rushing to the area to restore power infrastructure. Texas state and local governments working together to make sure that personnel, materials, supplies and safe shelter are all provided. Grocery stores setting up kitchens to feed people.  The list of people helping people in this terrible event can go on and on.” His statement reads.

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a category four hurricane last week, it was classified as the biggest rainstorm in the continental United States, leaving over 25 trillion gallons of water. “Our own City is running a shelter to assist evacuees from Harvey. I have witnessed the great service our people and our community are providing to the evacuees in our care,” Mitchell goes on to say. “It is obvious that the very passion with which we serve our own community everyday has carried into caring for fellow Texans during their darkest hours. All of you have a part in this story—some on the front lines of the shelter and some supporting our everyday operations for our citizens.  I recently had a couple of occasions where people asked me how we would handle all the events going on. I stated with confidence that ‘we are Harker Heights, you can count on us to handle it and to handle it well.’  My tremendous Council and staff give me that level of confidence.”

The press release goes on to give a general update of events from the City Manager. Such updates include a swearing in ceremony for Cory Bates on September 1 at 3 p.m. at the Police Department. Cory graduated from the Temple Police Academy on August 30. Officer Edward Kime travelled to California for the 2017 World Police and Fire Games where he received two gold medals in the large bore rifle competitions. Firefighter/Paramedic Kellie Mozek completed her inspector course and passed the state exam to be a certified Fire Inspector. The fire department’s Deputy Chief Glenn Gallenstein recently completed the required courses and now holds his Master Peace Officer Certification. Corporal Raphael Baumgaertel received his Master of Criminal Justice on Friday, August 11. A Employee Annual Budget Meeting will be held on September 14 and 15 at the Council Chamber at City Hall. More information will be released at a later time.

More than a month ago, an elderly resident of the City reached out to the Fire Department to see if any Firefighters provided moving services.  While none did, Firefighter Jason McKean coordinated a group of Firefighters to assist the resident.  On July 31, Captain Jimmy Carson, and Firefighters Jason McKean, Rene Fernandez, his wife Rosa, and Zack Gauthier assisted this resident with loading her moving trailers.

The City also received praise from a citizen via Facebook for the good work of Officer Melissa Wolfe. Officer Wolfe has made a traffic stop of a citizen and the citizen said that Officer Wolfe was kind and respectful.  The citizen stated that the two children in the vehicle had bad experiences with the police before being placed in foster care.  The children were scared of the situation presented by the traffic stop.  Officer Wolfe brought stickers to the kids and listened to them telling stories about their swimming lessons they were taking.  The citizen stated that Officer Wolfe was kind and patient and had “impacted the children in a positive way.”

Child Protective Services thanked Officer Dennis McAfee for looking into and sharing concerns about some local children.  The information allowed CPS to investigate properly and assess the need for services for the family involved.

Officers Crystal Thomas and Peter Quichocho received praise from Iglesia Uncion De Lo Alto in Harker Heights.  They attended their annual Vacation Bible School and the kids and staff said they were a blessing to the event.

A citizen wrote to the City to thank Firefighers Chudej, Gautheir and Martinez for their help after he suffered an allergic reaction.  He states that they were there quickly, determined what was wrong and got him loaded into the ambulance.  He says that they “were highly professional, worked as a team, kept me informed, and calmly assuaged my fears.  It just does not get any better for someone who was distressed as I was at the time.”

Mitchell also sends congratulations to Eric Larson with the Parks and Recreation Department. Eric received the Public Works/Parks and Recreation employee of the month for outstanding service.

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