By GREG RUSSELL
Register Staff Writer
The city’s public safety center will undergo a name change in tribute to the first Gainesville police officer killed on duty in six decades.
Gainesville City Council approved renaming during Tuesday’s regular meeting. The “City of Gainesville Public Safety Center” at 201 Santa Fe St. will soon be called the “Steven K. Fleming Public Safety Center,” honoring the memory of Chief Steven Fleming, who died Nov. 1.
Fleming, 44, died under medical care following injuries sustained after a fall on duty on Oct. 25. He served the force for 22 years — beginning in 1991, as an officer before promotions to corporal, sergeant and captain.
He became the city’s police chief in 2008.
“We lost a real hero in the city of Gainesville,” Mayor Jim Goldsworthy said Tuesday. “He was the first officer killed in the line of duty in 60 years and I can’t think of a better individual who came up through the ranks and gave his heart and soul to the community.”
Councilmember Ray Nichols said the name change, which still has a tentative timeline of completion, is highly fitting.
“It’s a heartfelt ‘thanks’ from all the state of Texas and all the police officers and other public safety people,” he said.
Other meeting highlights:
• Public Services Supervisor Craig Evins was named “Employee of the Month” for November 2013 in recognition and appreciation for his assistance to the parks and recreation department during the opening of the aquatic center in Leonard Park. The recognition cites Evins and his crews for making sure the roadways and area around the aquatic center were cleaned up from the construction and made presentable for the public.
• Goldsworthy read a certificate of recognition and presented “Star of North Texas” medallions to Lois and Ken Essenburg for their volunteerism, service and sustained commitments in the community. Goldsworthy said the Essenburgs have been involved with Special Olympics for more than 23 years, serving as head coaches for local special citizens and providing them with opportunities for physical fitness and interaction with their peers.
• Council adopted an ordinance amending city code requirements for sprinkler systems in bed and breakfast establishments, citing fire safety as the main concern. The ordinance makes specific local amendments to the 2009 International Building Code and the 2009 International Fire Code to provide exception for fire sprinkler requirements for bed and breakfast units that meet certain criteria. The ordinance is written to provide for fire safety while allowing the units to operate.
• Council approved a request by the local WalMart store for temporary placement of 21 40-foot cargo containers on their parking lot to be used for storage of merchandise on lay-away during seasonal sales. Council’s approval stipulates the containers to be removed no later than Jan. 31. The planning and zoning commission approved the request on Nov. 12. City Manager Barry Sullivan said city code prohibits cargo containers over 30 feet in length without the recommendation of planning and zoning and approval by the city council. (Information sourced from meeting minutes.)