Steve Boone, Gainesville fire chief, took to the podium and read a report summarizing the extents of the damage.

Across the county, he said, 1,470 homes and 63 businesses were affected by the storm.

Boone said the city could be eligible for disaster assistance, but help is requested from all of those who have experienced damage to their homes and businesses to report the amount of loss to the city.

“Right now we’re borderline — we may or may not get it,” Boone said of possible disaster relief funds from the federal government.

A city must report at least $22 million worth of damage to “uninsured or underinsured” property before monies may be allocated by the president for disaster relief, he said.

A “hotline” has been established at the county judge’s office at 668-5435 for citizens to report damage if they do not have insurance policies or do not have sufficient insurance to cover damages.

Boone said storm sirens were sounded at 7:28 p.m. and at 7:44 the severe thunderstorm had approached areas eight miles west of Gainesville bringing nickel-sized hail. At this time the Emergency Operations Center at the Public Safety Building off Highway 82 was activated.

The fire department responded to 34 emergency calls for the first four hours. There were a total of 51 reported storm-related emergencies.

Whitesboro, Collinsville and Thackerville volunteer fire departments responded, he said, as other local departments were stationed at their localities in the event of storm damage there.

“Every department pulled together and did real well,” Boone said.

Ron Sellman, director of utilities, said a power outage Friday night created problems for the city’s water utilities, as several pump stations were temporarily disabled.

“We lost power to just about every pump station,” he said, noting there were only minor pressure problems.

Both generators went out at the main station, but by 4:30 a.m. the power was back on.

Matt Quick, director of the Gainesville Municipal Airport, said the west side of the airport was spared but the east side sustained most of the damage, with all hangars receiving dents and one being destroyed.

He said 13 airplanes were damaged, including a World War II-era plane.

Susan Kleven, director of the Frank Buck Zoo, said the zoo experienced some damage but was open again by noon Monday. She noted one exhibit received extensive damage and all animals were moved to safety.

Patrick McCage, parks director, said everything is “up and operational.”

He said the parks lost three trees and the mini-train barn at Leonard Park was damaged.

City Manger Mike Land read a report from Rick Hanning of TXU Electric Delivery noting about 4,000 residents lost power — mainly in the west and northwest sections of town.

Lynette Pettigrew noted the Historic Santa Fe Depot lost windows on the second story. She said workers found a very “colorful solution” to securing the windows, as the building cannot be hammered into due to Texas Historical Commission restrictions.

Mayor Glenn Loch, in congratulating the city employees, alluded to a professional golf commercial and said, “These guys are really good.”

In business, the Council voted 4-0 to execute a contract with B29 Investments to improve the streets on the south side of Elm Street between Dixon and Chestnut streets and on the east side of Chestnut Street between Elm and California streets.

Council members Elaine McHorse, Beverly Snuggs and Jim Goldsworthy were absent.

Loch said B29 estimates the cost for new sidewalks and other improvements would be $50,480. Under the contract, the city would be responsible for $25,240 of the total cost and the installation of decorative street lamps.

Loch said the building near the area was the former Firestone Tires dealership and has historic value in the downtown area, which is being renovated in phases.

The Council voted 3-1 to rezone property at 1114 S. Howeth St. from single family two (SF2) to two family (2F) to allow a developer to construct duplexes on the lot.

At previous Council meetings residents opposed the move. The item was tabled for more research. Tuesday night a hearing was held as item 13 of the meeting’s agenda and was closed with one comment — that of Wendell Boen, the developer. Boen said his intention is to build “quality duplexes” on the lot, and that he would turn a drainage area into a green space.

Councilman Tony Manning moved to suspend the charter and approve the ordinance.

He said there is a shortage of low-medium income “starter homes” in Gainesville, and if the city expects to grow economically it should begin looking for newer rental houses which younger families can afford.

Councilman Jim King said most of the people with whom he has spoken in his ward are against the duplexes being built. He voted against passage of the ordinance.

In other business, the Council voted 4-0 to accept a “quitclaim deed” on four city lots. The following addresses, 706, 708, 716 and 718 Truelove Street, belonged to the Red River Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, also known as the Cooke County Humane Society. The property was earmarked for the first animal shelter project, but was never begun. The family who is responsible does not wish to continue maintaining the land and wishes to donate it to adjacent city park land.

The Council also passed 4-0 an ordinance, along with 16 other cities, to request Atmos Energy Corp. Mid-Tex Division lower its existing natural gas distribution rates.

Dan Parker, the city’s financial director, recommended passing the ordinance so Gainesville could join a coalition of cities requesting relief for rising gas prices.

In other business, the Council passed resolutions releasing a 1965 paving lien at 531 Chestnut St. in favor of J.D. Hazelrigs as requested by Jewel Hazelrigs, and to approve the use of the Tractor Supply Co. parking lot for Summertime Amusements May 22 through May 29.

In proclamations, Mayor Glenn Loch presented a handful of officers of the Gainesville Police Department a certificate in honor of Law Enforcement Week 2006. He said many of the officers were busy with storm-related calls and could not attend.

In citizen comments Bob Smith complimented the city emergency workers on their rapid response to straight-line wind damage near his business on West Highway 82.

Johnny Glass, the owner of Gainesville Seafood, addressed an ongoing issue with noise complaints by neighbors. He requested a decibel meter be used when police investigate music coming from the restaurant. He said he has live music at the place only on Saturday nights, to the dismay of neighbors across California Street.

In reports, Loch noted the Municipal Building, 200 S. Rusk St., is the scheduled site of a prayer breakfast 7 a.m. Thursday — which is also National Day of Prayer.

No executive session was held, and the meeting adjourned around 7:30 p.m.

Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at andyhoguegdr@ntin.net

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