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Salado Board of Aldermen Candidates 2014

Article Index

Four candidates have filed for two two-year terms on the Village of Salado Board of Aldermen. They appear on the ballot in the following manner: Merle Stalcup, Bryan Fritch, Frank Coachman and Dr. Amber Preston-Dankert.  

 

Early voting began April 28 and continues weekdays through May 6. Early voting hours are 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays through May 5 and 7 a.m.7 p.m. May 6. Election day, polls will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. May 10.

Week One Questions

Question 1: The village entered into a contract with Central Texas Council of Governments (CTCOG) to provide city management/administrative duties. In your opinion, is this arrangement working well? Should the village extend this contract beyond the current period ending in October? Why or why not?  (200 word limit)

Question 2: Texas Department of Transportation estimates that the expansion of I-35 through Salado will be complete in late 2015. What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing to prepare for this? What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing now to bolster businesses that have been affected by the construction project? (150 words)

Question 3: What is -- or should be -- the role of the board of aldermen  in terms of setting goals and policies and enacting the  goals and policies of the Village? What is -- or should be -- the relationship between the aldermen and the mayor, between the aldermen and the city administrator and between the aldermen and the other staff?  What will you do in terms of these relations? (200 words)

Week Two Questions

Question 4. What are your thoughts on the Village Comprehensive Plan?  (200 words)

Question 5. What are your top five goals for the Village that you would like to see accomplished in the next five years? How would you help to accomplish those goals? (200 words)

Question 6. Why do you think development within the Village and its ETJ has been slow in recent years in terms of new housing starts, new businesses, etc.? Do you think the Village should be growing? If not, why not? If so, what, if anything, can the Board of Aldermen do to improve this (200 words)

Week Three Questions:

Question 7: What are your thoughts on the conditions of the village roads? (200 word limit)

Question 8: What are your thoughts on the maintenance and operations of the village park? (150 word limit)

Question 9: Will you as an alderman vote to call for  a bond election for sewer? If called by the board, will you personally advocate for approval of a bond election for a sewer system?  (300 word limit).

Final Week of Questions:

 

Question 10: What do you consider to be the greatest weakness or flaw in the Village of Salado government and what can you do to change it? (200 words)

Question 11:  Why should anyone vote for you? (200 words)

 


Merle Stalcup

I am age 68. I  was previously elected to the Board of Alderman in May 2005 and re-elected in May 2007.  In May 2008 I was elected Mayor for the Village of Salado and served four years.  My wife Karen and I have lived in Salado for 16 years.

If elected Alderman, I would provide leadership and direction, plan for the well-being of the citizens, i.e., roads, waste water plant, and protect the property value and rights, and still maintain a unique way of life.

I have a Degree in Finance and Accounting from the University of Texas in Arlington and also completed graduate work at SMU School of Banking and Texas Tech School of Banking.

I have chaired the Economic Development committee for the Village and I am on the Planning & Zoning Board at present.  My past endeavors, while in office, include bringing Brookshire Bros Grocery, Scott & White Clinic, Brazos Collections and Ace Hardware to the Village of Salado.  I led the effort to replace the bridge destroyed by flood at Hester Way by obtaining a Federal Grant.

I am past Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Salado Methodist Church and also served on the Finance Committee and Building Committee.  I currently serve as President of Salado Rotary Club and have received the Paul Harris Fellowship of Rotary International.  I am also active in the Salado Chamber of Commerce.

I am retired from the U.S. Navy Reserve after 21 years where I served as air crewman for VP and VR squadrons.

My wife Karen and I are currently retired and are devoted to our blended family of six children and many grandchildren.

I have a degree from the University of Texas at Arlington in finance.

Question 1: The village entered into a contract with Central Texas Council of Governments (CTCOG) to provide city management/administrative duties. In your opinion, is this arrangement working well? Should the village extend this contract beyond the current period ending in October? Why or why not?  (200 word limit)

Merle Stalcup Answer: The contract with CTCOG is, in my opinion, working extremely well for the Village.  It keeps the Council in focus and brings it back to the point that it is a body of vision. I am of the opinion that as soon as the election is over that we need to focus on the process of hiring a City Administrator. Our contract with CTCOG goes until October; our budget process starts in June; and the timing would be good to put a CA on in September. I do believe that we are not using CTCOG to the fullest. The contract is not with an individual- it is with CTCOG, and we need to use all of its strength. It is an asset that we are a member of CTCOG and can continue to use all it resources. 

Question 2: Texas Department of Transportation estimates that the expansion of I-35 through Salado will be complete in late 2015. What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing to prepare for this? What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing now to bolster businesses that have been affected by the construction project? (150 words)

Merle Stalcup Answer: With the thought that I-35 is to be completed by the end of 2015, the Village needs to start immediate work on infrastructure of downtown – roads, parks, music system, sidewalks….. Now where is the money??? A master plan with efforts to get grants from a number of sources should be implemented. A marketing effort with the $20,000 that the city uses to market the Village needs be put into effect.   One time we used TV and radio advertising; however,  why not make a plan to do it again. We currently do not a have group that makes visits to other towns to inform the merchants about the qualities of the Village of Salado.  

Question 3: What is -- or should be -- the role of the board of aldermen  in terms of setting goals and policies and enacting the  goals and policies of the Village? What is -- or should be -- the relationship between the aldermen and the mayor, between the aldermen and the city administrator and between the aldermen and the other staff?  What will you do in terms of these relations? (200 words)

Merle Stalcup Answer: The Aldermen and Mayor should at all times maintain a decorum and politeness on the dais. The Alderman is there to give advice in a professional manner using their past experiences as a tool for a good decision. The Mayor and Aldermen are there for guidance into the future not day to day operation or crisis management. No Alderman or Mayor should tell an employee what to do or where to go. The CA directs the Tourist Bureau, Police Department, City Secretary, Maintenance Department with staff meetings jointly and separately for budget, direction, goals, etc.

Question 4. What are your thoughts on the Village Comprehensive Plan?  (200 words)

Merle Stalcup Answer: Yes, we should have a comprehensive plan. We, the Mayor, Aldermen, and the people of Salado need to know the direction that the Village is going. It will serve as a roadmap to assist future city staff, and office holders to lead. The issue is how do we get them to read it. 

Question 5. What are your top five goals for the Village that you would like to see accomplished in the next five years? How would you help to accomplish those goals? (200 words)

Merle Stalcup Answer: I only have 3 priority goals for the Village. 1. A wastewater plant (it will take about 3-4 years to have the lines, grinder, and discharge in place) 2. Paving the downtown roads to make it look like a new Village, inviting to tourists as well as to new retailers. It is a must that the Village increase its retail area. I would help to accomplish this by focusing on getting a timeline for the roads, a clear plan of when and where. The funding would come from some of our reserve and the rest from the bond money. This is going to require a strong City Administrator to keep us on track. 

Question 6. Why do you think development within the Village and its ETJ has been slow in recent years in terms of new housing starts, new businesses, etc.? Do you think the Village should be growing? If not, why not? If so, what, if anything, can the Board of Aldermen do to improve this (200 words)

Merle Stalcup Answer: The Village has very little area to grow into. It only has about eight lots inside the city limits for residential development. It will have about 20 commercial lots to build on when the wastewater plant is complete. Our current city limits has hurt development. Now that we have been able to extend our city limits north and south along I-35, we can get additional development. The economy has hurt the retail stores as well as I-35 construction. We have been going though this for about five years. You can see that residential developers are beginning to start new areas around Salado in our ETJ. There are three developments currently under construction. Why have they selected Salado ETJ – because our schools are the best in the country.

Question 7: What are your thoughts on the conditions of the village roads? (200 word limit)

Merle Stalcup: The roads continue to deteriorate because of the weather as well as traffic. We have had very little road repair with the exception of roads that have little to no traffic. What good has that been? The roads into and out of the Mill Creek area need to have work done on them as well as the side roads off Main Street in the downtown area.  We have to rebuild the downtown area for continual growth. 

 

Question 8: What are your thoughts on the maintenance and operations of the village park? (150 word limit)

 

Merle Stalcup Answer: Pace Park has been maintained on a regular basis however, it is time for a paint job as well as more ground cover around the play grounds. The last time renovations were done was about 6 years ago under the direction of Susan Terry.  We installed protective ground cover and with the help of the senior high school volunteer day. They painted the road barriers as well as the pavilion and bathrooms….. Let’s have a volunteer day with each civic group taking a responsibility. 

 

Question 9: Will you as an alderman vote to call for  a bond election for sewer? If called by the board, will you personally advocate for approval of a bond election for a sewer system?  (300 word limit).

 

Merle Stalcup Answer:

Yes, I do think that the Village of Salado needs a wastewater system with tap fee according to the usage of the users of the system and then a lower fee for the nonusers. I think the only way to cover the expense is with a bond election; however, I am like the rest of Salado – how much is it going to cost and what areas are provided services. I have always advocated a bond issue to cover the cost; however, there are a lot of unanswered questions at this time

 

Question 10: What do you consider to be the greatest weakness or flaw in the Village of Salado government and what can you do to change it? (200 words)

 

Merle Stalcup Answer: The greatest weakness that the Village of Salado government has is no city manager. We have people elected that had been successful in their respective fields however they are not professional city managers. In just the last 8 months with CTCOG acting city manager one can see the success. 

 Question 11:  Why should anyone vote for you? (200 words)

Merle Stalcup: I have experience of 3 years as alderman and 4 years as mayor. I know the ordinances and have read several times the comprehensive plan.

 

 


Bryan Fritch

I was born and raised in Germany, immigrating to the United States in 1956 where I lived in Akron, Ohio and then in Brooklyn, N.Y. until I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1963.  I served a total of over 23 years and retired from the U.S. Army as a Chief Warrant Officer 3 in December 1986.  After retirement, I worked as a defense contractor in various capacities and locations until May 2007 until I again retired.  My last position was in Houston, Texas where I worked for NASA on the International Space Station Program for over 9 years.

I purchased property in Salado in 2001, built my home, and moved into the community in July 2005.  I have been married to his wife “Eve” for over 48 years.  We have two children and four grandchildren.  My son works for the University of Texas in Austin and my daughter is a school teacher in the Killeen Independent School District.  I hold a baccalaureate degree in business administration from the University of Mary Hardin Baylor.

I own and operate a local business. I am an active member within the community.  I am a member of the Salado Rotary Club, the Salado Village Artists, and the Tri-City Gem & Mineral Society.  I am also a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Salado Ambassadors, and the Salado Community Foundation.

Question 1: The village entered into a contract with Central Texas Council of Governments (CTCOG) to provide city management/administrative duties. In your opinion, is this arrangement working well? Should the village extend this contract beyond the current period ending in October? Why or why not?  (200 word limit)

Bryan Fritch Answer: The contract city administration program is working quite well.  The next step for the Village is to hire a full time city manager.  We should begin the advertising/recruiting process now.  There is no need to extend the CTCOG contract because it is written to go month-to-month after the six month period expires. I would like to see Mr. Reed become the full time administrator but I don’t think that is a realistic possibility. Once a full time administrator is hired it would be beneficial to have a transition period of several months where the parties work together to bring the new administrator “up to speed”.

Question 2: Texas Department of Transportation estimates that the expansion of I-35 through Salado will be complete in late 2015. What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing to prepare for this? What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing now to bolster businesses that have been affected by the construction project? (150 words)

Bryan Fritch Answer: The Village made key inputs during the planning and design phase where we influenced, for example, the number and location of the on/off ramps.  Once the I-35 expansion project is completed, a period of accelerated growth can be expected.  The implementation of the West Side Overlay District will play a key part in managing that growth, which, in turn, will bring in additional sales and property tax revenues.  The Village is proactively engaged in assisting the business community during this difficult period.  Additional funding for advertising has been provided and the Tourism Department is working very hard to bring groups to town and has been quite successful in this effort.
Question 3: What is -- or should be -- the role of the board of aldermen  in terms of setting goals and policies and enacting the  goals and policies of the Village? What is -- or should be -- the relationship between the aldermen and the mayor, between the aldermen and the city administrator and between the aldermen and the other staff?  What will you do in terms of these relations? (200 words)

Bryan Fritch Answer: In my opinion, the mayor is the first among equals.  His function is to be the public voice of the Village.  His job, in conjunction with the Village Administrator, is to build and mold consensus between the members of the board and communicate that consensus to the department heads.  The members of the board develop the policies and procedures which are then implemented by the administrator and departments. I feel that I have a good relationship with the administrator and department heads.  I regularly provide input to Mr. Reed concerning ongoing issues/programs and visit with the department heads to discuss issues and concerns generally at least once a week.  Should a staff member wish to discuss an issue I am always only a phone call or email away.

 

Question 4. What are your thoughts on the Village Comprehensive Plan?  (200 words)

Bryan Fritch Answer: The Village Comprehensive Plan is out of date and needs to be reviewed. A group of knowledgeable individuals, consisting of representatives from both the business and residential community needs to be impaneled to perform a full review and submit their recommendations to the BOA.  The board has looked at portions of the plan but a full review has not been conducted in several years.  The Village Administrator should chair this effort and a timeline for the completion of the effort needs to be established.

 
Question 5. What are your top five goals for the Village that you would like to see accomplished in 
the next five years? How would you help to accomplish those goals? (200 words)

Bryan Fritch Answer: The first priority should be the completion of the background work to educate the citizens and develop the engineering plans concerning the wastewater treatment system.  Assuming the bond issue is approved by the voters in November, the project for Phase 1 (the Main Street business district) should be completed within 3 years.  The second priority is advertising for and hiring a full time Village Administrator.  Salado has grown to the point that a group of volunteers can not effectively manage the affairs of the Village and provide the continuity necessary over the long term.  The third priority is road maintenance.  The village will not be able to do the necessary work with a budget of $200K per year.  Part of the Capital Improvement Bond issue should be dedicated to making major updates such as the Chisholm Trail loop through the Village.  Priority four is the review and updating of all the Village ordinances to eliminate contradictions and streamline them.  Fifth is to fairly and impartially enforce those ordinances for the benefit of all the citizens of the Village.  I am ready, willing, and able to be a part of that effort as an alderman or as a private citizen to serve on boards and commissions to make these priorities come to fruition. 

Question 6. Why do you think development within the Village and its ETJ has been slow in recent years in terms of new housing starts, new businesses, etc.? Do you think the Village should be growing? If not, why not? If so, what, if anything, can the Board of Aldermen do to improve this 
(200 words)
Bryan Fritch Answer: The lack of a Village waste water treatment facility has, in my opinion been a drawback for development especially as far as attracting businesses such as restaurants are concerned.  Also, part of the slowdown, I believe, has been the uncertain economy since 2008.  The I-35 expansion has had a negative effect and I think that some developers are waiting until that is completed before committing themselves to action. I do see some new construction underway which leads me to believe that the tide is starting to turn.  Bush’s Chicken and CEFCO are examples along I-35.  I have noted that quite a few houses are now under construction in the Hidden Springs subdivision and four houses are completed or nearing completion in Mill Creek.  Finally I feel that Salado is something of a hidden gem.  Many visitors to Salado are not aware that much of our residential areas even exist.  They see the downtown area but are not aware of the beautiful homes and desirable lots that are available within the Village.  I think that, for example, we could look into expanding the Jewel and Visitors Guide to have a section that highlights our residential communities.  Our exemplary school district and extremely low tax rate should also be emphasized.  This effort could be funded jointly by the Village and the real estate agencies that also call Salado home.

 

Question 7: What are your thoughts on the conditions of the village roads? (200 word limit)

 

The Village roads are in overall poor condition and need major work.  Since FY2008 the Village has had an annual road budget of $150K.  That was increased to $200K for FY 2013-2014.  That sum is obviously not enough.  To resurface roads in this day and age, including curbing, costs approximately $1 million per mile.  In addition the BOA needs to re-look the road evaluation and develop a list of priorities that all can agree on.  For this reason, when I introduced the action for the bond election this coming November, I presented it as a “Capital Improvement Bond.” It was, and continues to be, my objective to present a bond issue to the voters that will encompass both the costs of Phase 1 of the wastewater treatment system and also provide additional funding to accomplish some major roadway renovations along the main arteries of the Village.   

 

Question 8: What are your thoughts on the maintenance and operations of the village park? (150 word limit)

 

Pace Park does not get a lot of visitors, partly because it has been allowed to deteriorate and damages that occurred during the last two major floods were never repaired.  The park is supposed to be a place for members of the community to meet and for their children to play in a safe and appealing environment.  I know that the Rotary Club of Salado is looking to, again, add additional mulch to the playground area.  I think that the Village could, and should, do more to enhance the appeal of the area such as replacing the benches and tables destroyed in the floods.  Some barbecue pits, a volleyball court, some swings for older children are all things that can be done to enhance the area and be accomplished at relatively low cost. 

 

Question 9: Will you as an alderman vote to call for  a bond election for sewer? If called by the board, will you personally advocate for approval of a bond election for a sewer system?  (300 word limit).

 

The bond election has already been called for.  I have always been in favor of developing a new waste water treatment facility for the Village which is why I introduced that action a couple of months ago. It was passed unanimously by the BOA.  An undertaking of this cost and magnitude is something that should be decided by the residents since they are the ones that will pay the bill.  I expect that in the next four months the Village Administrator and BOA, working together and with the support of our engineering firm, will have gathered enough information concerning treatment plant location options, collection lines, and costs and be prepared to present that data to the voters through board meetings, press releases, handouts, and town hall functions so that the citizens will be able to make an informed decision when they go to the polls in November.

 

Question 10: What do you consider to be the greatest weakness or flaw in the Village of Salado government and what can you do to change it? (200 words)

Bryan Fritch Answer: In my opinion, the greatest weakness within the village government is the lack of continuity.  Mayors and Aldermen come and go, each with their own vision and agenda.  Projects and programs championed by one individual or group are abandoned by their successors. The Comprehensive Plan, supposedly the blueprint for the future, is not looked at by the board as a whole, let alone discussed and updated.  We have a village run by volunteers, many of whom have full time careers.  This was effective in the early days after incorporation but as we have grown in size and added staff this is no longer a viable scenario.  We have embarked on the path towards the solution, namely to engage the services of a full time, professional city manager.  Secondly, I feel that the village should consider increasing the terms of office for the Mayor and Aldermen to three years from two which would also provide more continuity in those positions.

Question 11:  Why should anyone vote for you? (200 words)

Bryan Fritch Answer: In a word, the answer is Integrity.  What I tell you today is the same thing I will tell your neighbor tomorrow.  I will never change my position on an issue for the sake of personal or political advantage but I will change my position if I was wrong, and will admit to my mistake.  I will continue to press forward with the initiatives I have previously proposed.  I will continue to do whatever I can to ensure that the Capital Improvement Bond is on the November ballot and that the citizens get enough information to make an informed decision.  I will continue to support the hiring of a full time city manager.  I will continue to push for either taking over the Civic Center as the new city hall or starting a fund dedicated to the purchase of real estate and the construction of a new facility since we have outgrown the current space.  I will continue to push for the transition from a Type “B” to a Type “A” municipality, something that is necessary in order to finance the projects that are envisioned over the next few years.  Finally I pledge that I will do all I can to foster a sense of cooperation and mutual respect between all members of the village administration.  We can agree to disagree with one another but that should not preclude us from working together for the good of the village as a whole.

 

 

 


Frank Coachman

I have been a Salado resident since 2001. I assumed the duties of Deputy Director for the Texas Music Educators Association in July 1999. TMEA is a professional organization comprised of over 11,500 K-16 elementary, band, orchestra, choir and collegiate music educators. My duties there include managing the scheduling, logistics and audio/visual components for more than 400 events during the annual three-day TMEA convention. The show draws 26,500 attendees, participants, exhibitors and family members to San Antonio. I also oversee the TMEA audition process for more than 60,000 high school students across the state who compete for membership in TMEA Region, Area and All-State bands, choirs and orchestras. For the previous 22 years, I served the music education profession in the Killeen I.S.D. For 18 years, Iserved as Director of Bands for C.E. Ellison High School.

I presently serve on the Board of Directors for the Salado Education Foundation. I have served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Temple Symphony Orchestra and the Center for Educator Development in Fine Arts Summit Cadre since 2001. I am a Past President of TMEA and also served as State Band Vice-President from ‘90-92. Coachman is an honorary lifetime member of the Texas Music Adjudicators Association. He attended Texas Tech University and graduated from McMurry University with a B.F.A., Music Education degree. 

I seek to serve as a Salado Village Alderman to assist in meeting the needs of fellow citizen/neighbors and business owner/operators.  My best skill is that I make things happen. I am organized, cost conscious and committed. I believe in revising the short and long term vision and master plan for healthy growth, seizing opportunities to enhance the village while working to preserve and maintain the rich historical culture and quality of life in the village.

My wife Kaye and I enjoy living in Salado. We have two married daughters and two grandchildren. Recently we opened a business, 21 Main, with partners Rusty and Julie Schramm.

Question 1: The village entered into a contract with Central Texas Council of Governments (CTCOG) to provide city management/administrative duties. In your opinion, is this arrangement working well? Should the village extend this contract beyond the current period ending in October? Why or why not?  (200 word limit)

Frank Coachman Answer: I believe the contract with CTCOG was and continues to be a wise decision for the Village of Salado. I believe the contract extension should be reviewed with two possibilities. One, the contract extended as is, or explore the possibility of hiring a full-time city manager. A comparison study should be done to ascertain if the village would gain any service level by hiring a full-time manager. There is the possibility that we might indeed lose services being provided by the many resources CTCOG offers under the current contract. It would be important to carefully compare the two scenarios and select the most efficient and beneficial option.

Question 2: Texas Department of Transportation estimates that the expansion of I-35 through Salado will be complete in late 2015. What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing to prepare for this? What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing now to bolster businesses that have been affected by the construction project? (150 words)

Frank Coachman Answer: The Board of Alderman should continue to create policy in support of the tourism bureau with its efforts in attracting consumers. The mayor and board of alderman would best support economic growth by creating policy to allow for infrastructure improvements, updating policies for code and code enforcements, while pursuing funds for a municipal waste water system and general village property improvements. A public waste water system will improve the possibilities of attracting new business to Salado bringing more consumer visitors to the village. All of this will enhance the economic climate for the established businesses. 

Question 3: What is -- or should be -- the role of the board of aldermen  in terms of setting goals and policies and enacting the  goals and policies of the Village? What is -- or should be -- the relationship between the aldermen and the mayor, between the aldermen and the city administrator and between the aldermen and the other staff?  What will you do in terms of these relations? (200 words)

Frank Coachman Answer: I feel the Board of Alderman exist to set policies for the Village and pass the authority to execute the policies to the city manager and staff under the auspices of the Village Mayor and the board. That being said, the Board of Alderman should make every effort to communicate and seek the opinions and desires of the village citizens, business owners, and of those affected by the extra-territorial jurisdictions of the village. I feel the town hall meetings and the newsletters being proposed by the current board is a terrific start in this communication process. Quarterly meetings of leaders from the city, school district, and all civic organizations would also be of benefit in this communication process.  I feel having citizens participate as committee members for specific topic or task studies would allow more voices to be heard.  As an alderman, I would support the city manager and city staff and trust these follow citizens to conduct their business to the best of their abilities. The mayor, board, city manager, and city staff are a team. Each has their defined responsibility toward the business of running the village. If and when a team members needs assistance with their tasks, the team is there for support.

 Question 4. What are your thoughts on the Village Comprehensive Plan?  (200 words)

Frank Coachman Answer: I believe it is time to review the existing plans for the future of the Village and make adjustments based on any new information and consider all of the current pressures created by the I35 construction, possible new school construction, the golf course renovations, and any new developments. All of these factors affect the traffic patterns throughout the Village and could change the timeline for upgrading or maintaining roads. I also feel the waste water project will have a major effect on the existing plan and will cause changes to the existing plan. As I have mentioned before, I believe we should form committees of residents to provide input for the comprehensive plan.  Representation on such a committee should include citizens from all neighborhoods in the Village, school district leadership, business owners, and leaders of civic organizations.    

Question 5. What are your top five goals for the Village that you would like to see accomplished in the next five years? How would you help to accomplish those goals? (200 words)

Frank Coachman Answer: I would like to see our Village:1. establish a waste water system for the Main Street corridor and I-35 East and West corridors. 2. investigate taking ownership of Main Street and begin renovations to include sidewalks and more lighting.3. improve roads throughout the Village.4. create an inviting atmosphere for business growth.5. begin planning for expanding the waste water system to serve residences.As an alderman, I would work with city management in creating policy that would attain each of these goals with financial efficiency. I would also work to ensure citizens understand the need for these projects and explain how an investment now in our infrastructure would potentially keep the tax rate lower in the future. 

Question 6. Why do you think development within the Village and its ETJ has been slow in recent years in terms of new housing starts, new businesses, etc.? Do you think the Village should be growing? If not, why not? If so, what, if anything, can the Board of Aldermen do to improve this (200 words)

Frank Coachman Answer: There are many factors that have been impacting development and growth in the Salado area. The national economic downturn in 2008 and subsequent slow recovery, the I-35 expansion project, and the lack of infrastructure, namely a waste water system and an updated Main Street area are all factors affecting business growth and consequently housing starts. If we do not plan to grow the business community we will all face much higher property taxes to sustain the existing infrastructure of our parks, roads, Village properties and city management resources. The more sales tax generated the lower the property taxes can remain. By addressing the goals listed above, the Board of Alderman would impact improvement of growth. 

 

Question 7: What are your thoughts on the conditions of the village roads? (200 word limit)

Frank Coachman Answer:There have been some great improvements to a few of our Village roads, some based on a planned maintenance cycle, others by unforeseen circumstances such as flooding. There are also new pressures on certain roads due to the I35 expansion project. Traffic patterns have changed within the village due to rerouting of normal patterns in and out of the Village because of road and bridge closures around I35. These roads will need attention sooner than planned. It will be necessary for Village administration and the Board of Alderman to reassess road conditions and revise the current planned maintenance schedule. The roads in the worst condition and used most frequently should receive the first attention within the constraints of available funding. 

 

Question 8: What are your thoughts on the maintenance and operations of the village park? (150 word limit)

Frank Coachman Answer:Pace Park is one asset the Board of Alderman, working in harmony with the Tourism Office personnel and the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, should utilize for major events to attract visitors and consumers to Salado. The park is on the banks of one of our best features – Salado Creek. I believe the Board of Alderman should support activities in the park and provide necessary funding for upkeep and improvements. Maintaining a functioning park enhances the quality of life in our village. When not in use for major events, the park becomes a great location for residence and visitors to relax and spend time outdoors with family and friends.

 

Question 9: Will you as an alderman vote to call for  a bond election for sewer? If called by the board, will you personally advocate for approval of a bond election for a sewer system?  (300 word limit).

Frank Coachman Answer: I feel the Village must move forward with a waste water system. A system with adequate capacity and built with future expansion capabilities would most likely not be possible without bond funding. The waste water system is necessary to ensure we can grow our commerce system to maintain a healthy sales tax revenue to support the budget and keep property taxes as low as we can. A bond package will have an impact on the property tax rate, but not nearly as significant if we simply maintain the existing commerce level or allow it to decline. If the sales tax rate does not improve in the near future, the property tax rate would need to be increased significantly more to offset the loss of tax revenue in comparison to supporting a bond. Yes, I would support calling for a bond election and would personally advocate in support of approval.

 

Question 10: What do you consider to be the greatest weakness or flaw in the Village of Salado government and what can you do to change it? (200 words)

Question 1: The Village of Salado government has existed for a relatively short time span and in my opinion has done an excellent job of establishing itself as an entity of strong service to all of its stakeholders. The government has expanded at a rate consistent with the needs of the community. In the past year and a half the community has added the services of a professional manager and given the Board of Alderman a great resource and advantage to deal with all of the current issues being addressed and any future unforeseen challenges. As the relationship between the Board of Alderman and Village management progresses, we need to trust our team of employees and expect this outstanding team to operate in an efficient and expedient manner. The Board of Alderman must provide management with policies and resources to be effective in caring their appointed duties. I would work to further foster this young relationship between the Board of Alderman and our Village management. 

Question 11:  Why should anyone vote for you? (200 words)

 

Question 2: Your vote for Frank Coachman would mean you are in favor of an alderman who will work to improve the financial status of the village by promoting business growth which would increase our sales tax revenue, therefore, keeping property taxes at a minimum in comparison to our surrounding communities. A major part of establishing a growing economy for Salado is establishing a scalable waste water system to service both sides of I35, Main Street and its adjacent establishments. This system would be expanded in future years to serve residences. Your vote would also be for a Salado resident and Village business owner who believes we should maintain a city manager position with an in depth review of making this a full-time position if the return on the investment makes good fiscal sense. You would also be in favor of a candidate who would like to see more community members involved in a review and revision of the Village Comprehensive Plan. You would be voting for a management professional who has the experience and skill-set of serving on the Executive Board, as President, and currently on the staff, as Deputy Director, of the Texas Music Educators Association which serves over 1.5 million students and 11,000 teachers in our state. Your voice will be heard and served.

 

 

 

 



Dr. Amber Preston Dankert

As a third-generation Saladoan and graduate of Salado High School, I believe that I have first-hand knowledge of both where Salado has been, and where it is headed.  I have a son that currently attends school at Salado Intermediate School, and my husband and I are also foster parents. My husband retired from the Army after serving four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he now owns his own small business in Salado.

I graduated with both a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Master’s degree in Agricultural Education from Texas A&M University, and I completed my Doctorate degree in Agricultural Education and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University. I was a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and Golden Key National Honor Society. 

I am the Wildlife Management Team Supervisor at Fort Hood, and have worked there for the past eight years.  I review and approve environmental and construction plans and make sound natural resource management decisions daily. I understand that decisions made today have implications far into the future. Many issues such as infrastructure, construction, and budgeting that we experience at Fort Hood can be transferred to Salado, which will help me understand how to attack small issues head-on, before they become larger issues.  

Working as part of a larger team that manages such a broad land area, I recognize that team work is often the key to success. However, sometimes you have to get your hands dirty and lead from the front.  My hope is that a new election brings about a new commitment to work diligently toward keeping the integrity of Salado’s small-town quaintness, while encouraging responsible, monitored growth to keep the village thriving. 

In college, I became deaf due to an autoimmune disease. I made the decision then that I would never quit or sell myself short. I have accomplished many things in life due to my perseverance (which most of my family refers to as stubbornness), and I have always followed through on my commitments. I have made a commitment to the residents of the Village of Salado to be an honest, open-minded voice.  I promise to listen to the community, analyze all the available options, and make decisions I believe are the best based on the available facts. I have never given up on myself, and I will never give up on Salado.

Question 1: The village entered into a contract with Central Texas Council of Governments (CTCOG) to provide city management/administrative duties. In your opinion, is this arrangement working well? Should the village extend this contract beyond the current period ending in October? Why or why not?  (200 word limit)

I believe that an immediate need was answered with the CTCOG contract. Salado needed a Village Administrator, and CTCOG could provide someone on a part-time basis to assist us with that need. We must remember, CTCOG is responsible for a multi-county area in central Texas. With large-scale projects and growing management needs ahead of us, the Village is in need of a full-time city manager who is dedicated specifically to the Village of Salado’s needs and vision. In the long-term, I believe our approximate $4800/month that we are spending with CTCOG would be better spent by hiring a permanent Village employee. If the Village is unable to secure a permanent hire by October, we should continue the current contract only until a permanent hire can be secured.

Question 2: Texas Department of Transportation estimates that the expansion of I-35 through Salado will be complete in late 2015. What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing to prepare for this? What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing now to bolster businesses that have been affected by the construction project? (150 words)

Dr. Amber Preston-Dankert Answer: Advertise, advertise, advertise. We have a tourism director hired by the Village to bolster our attraction to tourists. We should make sure that she has an adequate budget to advertise and promote Salado. Billboards that promote Salado and its upcoming events should be seen across Texas, and Salado should be seen more in magazines such as Texas Monthly. The tourism department should work closely with the Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, Rotary Club, and other Salado organizations to ensure that business needs are being appropriately addressed. Lately, it seems more and more shops are closing their doors. We need to make Salado more attractive to small business shop owners who have a unique niche in the market. Attracting unique businesses requires reasonable rent, convenient locations, and local support. We simply cannot ask out-of-towners to purchase locally if those who live here do not!

Question 3: What is -- or should be -- the role of the board of aldermen  in terms of setting goals and policies and enacting the  goals and policies of the Village? What is -- or should be -- the relationship between the aldermen and the mayor, between the aldermen and the city administrator and between the aldermen and the other staff?  What will you do in terms of these relations? (200 words)

Dr. Amber Preston-Dankert Answer: Aldermen have the responsibility to both listen to villagers’ input and understand what other successful villages across Texas are doing right. Village goals and policies should be derived from local input, and be allowed public comment well before their approval. A comprehensive plan would allow the Village to set goals and policies in a way that combines good news stories from other villages with local input.An alderman’s job is simple: they receive input, plans, and ideas, present them to the community, and vote on whether to include them as a part of the Village’s future. It is the mayor’s responsibility to ensure the aldermen are working together, beneficially, towards goals that are in the best interest of the Village.  The mayor is also the liaison between the aldermen and the community, and between the aldermen and the Village Administrator. The Village Administrator is responsible for managing and evaluating the Village employees. Thoroughly understanding and appreciating each employee’s duties and responsibilities is the key to a good working relationship. However, the aldermen must not perform any type of supervisory role.  I’ve always maintained that I can get along with anyone. I accept criticism gracefully, and use it constructively. I am a good listener, but am steadfast in my beliefs. I admit when I am at fault, and stand up when I feel another is at fault. These characteristics will, in my opinion, improve the cohesiveness of the board and its relationship with the rest of the staff.

Question 4. What are your thoughts on the Village Comprehensive Plan?  (200 words)

Dr. Amber Preston-Dankert:  comprehensive plan should be highly accessible to the public and be available for update as unforeseen changes arise. A web search will not bring up a comprehensive plan for the village. That said, a comprehensive plan is designed as a long-term, umbrella-type, vision document. This key so we as a community agree on the general direction the village is heading into the future. The Village Administrator and aldermen I spoke with agreed that the current plan has not been updated or referenced in years. A good comprehensive plan should not be so cumbersome that it cannot be easily referenced, followed, and amended.Alternately, a strategic plan identifies the individual needs of the village. It is an action plan with obtainable goals in the short-term. It should be specific, and contain a path forward. This document should be highlighted, dog-eared, and worn out by our Board of Aldermen. Each should be able to easily reference it, as should the rest of the village.  It is my goal that we have both types of documents, created with citizen input, and easily accessible both in hard-copy and digital formats. We cannot successfully make decisions without knowing where we are headed.  

Question 5. What are your top five goals for the Village that you would like to see accomplished in the next five years? How would you help to accomplish those goals? (200 words)

Dr. Amber Preston-Dankert Answer: My first priority is to create a unified team of Aldermen who work together and are respectful of others’ opinions. I want to be a member of a team who takes action on their plans and communicates openly with the public. Second, I want to create a Comprehensive Plan that is a result of community and subject matter expert input. We have the ability and expertise of creating such a plan in-house with little cost to the village. Third, I want to create better amenities for our youth, young families, middle-aged workforce, and retirees. With planning and innovation, many amenities require very little cost to the village. How about adding WiFi to an existing café, or domino tournaments at existing establishments? Many ideas do not require a vote, they just need to be pushed to local businesses as a need that is not being met. Fourth, I hope to see a better, and safer, road system throughout the village, which should be budgeted accordingly in coming years. And finally, a sewer system that is well-planned with community input, meets all the future planning needs, and is not a financial burden on the taxpayers.  

Question 6. Why do you think development within the Village and its ETJ has been slow in recent years in terms of new housing starts, new businesses, etc.? Do you think the Village should be growing? If not, why not? If so, what, if anything, can the Board of Aldermen do to improve this (200 words)

Dr. Amber Preston-Dankert Answer: Growth and change are inevitable attributes to a village that wants to survive. If the village saw no more growth, it would eventually wither away. However, I believe that uncontrolled, unmonitored growth can be just as damaging as stagnation. With a comprehensive plan in place, the village would have a vision and a direction to help ensure the growth is in the best interest of our hometown. Although many attribute the growth rate to a lack of a sewer, it is more than that. How many Saladoans can say that they shop in Salado regularly? Do you eat here, get your hair cut here, or buy groceries here? I do, because growing up here I understood others’ livelihoods depended on it. Many of our own citizens see Salado as a weekend town. It will take a change in mindset before we will see any major growth, and we need those voices heard at the local Board of Aldermen meetings.Our aldermen are your voice, and you should feel empowered. If your aldermen feel that growth is the desire of the majority, I believe that amenities will follow that will support the growth and expansion of new homes and businesses. 

 

Question 7: What are your thoughts on the conditions of the village roads? (200 word limit)

 

Many village roads need major upgrades, while others are faring well. Some roads need repairs simply due to the number of vehicles that travel them daily, while others need repairs due to water damage from past flood events. Last year, the Village spent over $137,000 on street maintenance, and has increased the budget by almost $83K for 2014. That seems like a lot, until we hear that $220,000 will not even repair a mile of road. 

As our roads look more like a patchwork quilt, we need to ask ourselves if we want to continue the Band-aid approach, or if we should spend substantial Village funds to correct the problem. With a sewer bond imminent, obtaining another loan is not the best option. For now, we should squeeze as much money out of the budget for road repairs as possible, without causing a large deficit. In years to come, we must push roads as a top priority and make major repairs annually instead of waiting until they are in major disrepair. This will ensure that our roads are not causing homeowners and visitors alike to go elsewhere.

Question 8: What are your thoughts on the maintenance and operations of the village park? (150 word limit)

Dr. Ambert Preston Dankert Answer: Throughout my life, I have seen the many faces of Pace Park. We have enjoyed playing in the creek, runs and bicycle rides, the Art Fair, fund raisers, weddings, and more. It has also been cost-neutral for the Village, as its income has outweighed its maintenance costs. In 2014, the budget for the park increased more than double. Although we can always think of improvements we’d like to see, I think it functions quite well with a nice playground, pavilion, and rock tables. The road and parking area may be in slight disrepair, but many parks only have a dirt road leading to them. We should focus more on the invaluable time spent there with friends and family, understanding that there is still much life left in the park as it is. It was in the past, and still is today, a place where memories are made.

 

Question 9: Will you as an alderman vote to call for  a bond election for sewer? If called by the board, will you personally advocate for approval of a bond election for a sewer system?  (300 word limit).

 

Dr. Amber Preston Dankert Answer: I will vote for a bond election and advocate for its approval if I feel that the package presented is in the best interest of both the businesses and the individuals living in the village. At the Village forum, I heard many frustrated voices of concern due to lack of information. However, I think the aldermen and Village Administrator did a good job of stressing that the plans are still in preliminary stages, and more detailed information will come at future forums. That said, leaving more questions than answers added to the aggravation of some individuals at the meeting, though it is understandable since there has been a lack of communication over the acquisition of the system.

Into the future, I do believe that the aldermen have heard your voices, and they will be more forthcoming with future project information. I will also do my part to ensure that your voices are heard. An alderman’s duty is to work in unity with the other board members to represent the wishes of the majority of the Village.  I will advocate for the system once we are all made aware of, and agree with, the actual system cost (bond election) as well as consumer costs (tap fees, usage fees, tax increase, etc.). I do not want this project to become a financial burden on anyone, so research must be done to find creative ways to accomplish the project. If the project causes individuals and families to leave, we have not done our due diligence as a part of our responsibility to the Village of Salado.

 

Question 10: What do you consider to be the greatest weakness or flaw in the Village of Salado government and what can you do to change it? (200 words)

Dr. Amber Preston Dankert Answer: John Henry Newman once said, “A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.” Further, John 8:7 reads, “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” These quotes, though written worlds apart, encourage us to understand that there is fault and imperfection everywhere. Yet, we must move forward with what we believe is best at the given time. I have to believe that the current Village leadership has done what they have felt is best for our community, and they continue to learn from their mistakes.  

That said, I hope to bring three things to the table: transparency, communication, and willingness to act. I believe that through better communication and openness with stakeholders, and a willingness to push issues forward for swift action, we will have more community support. Although there will always be disagreements and complaints, when our aldermen and village work hand-in-hand, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. 

Question 11:  Why should anyone vote for you? (200 words)

Question 2: I hope that over the last few weeks, many of you have come to understand what each of us stand for. Do I have common sense? Yes. Do I have an exceptional education? Sure. But most important is that none of that necessarily matters. What does matter is that I fully intend to be your voice. I will strive to ensure that the issues that are important to the village are heard at council meetings. Why does it matter I’m a third-generation Saladoan? Because after graduation, I had the opportunity to move. Yet, I saw promise in Salado. This was home, and a place to raise my family. Why does it matter that I am young? The decisions I make as an Alderman, I will have to live with for the next 50 years! I am invested in our village, as my parents and grandparents have been before me. I want to make Salado a place where MY children want to stay, and I hope yours want to stay here, too, no matter from where you originated. After all, as Jodi Picoult said, “Where you come from does matter -- but not nearly as much as where you are headed.”