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Road to Red Oak growth strands annexed firm

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DIANA BUCKLEY
Ellis County Press
RED OAK - City officials are moving forward with their ambitious annexation plans, promising to improve the quality of services for many rural residents.

But residents annexed a year ago say enough is enough:

'You annexed us, we pay our taxes, I want it on record we are due a decent road,' said Daniel Douthit at the Jan. 8 city council meeting. 'That's fine, annex some more land, but let's take care of what we have.'

Douthit's business was negatively impacted by a road project on Hawk and Eagle Lanes at the South Industrial Park.

Four hundred feet of existing chip and seal roadway was replaced with concrete in the fall of 2000.

The problem occurred when an additional four hundred feet of the roadway was excavated - and left to collect water - resulting in a gaping mud hole Douthit said was impossible to navigate in most vehicles.

Douthit said he and his father had made numerous calls to the city asking for a load of gravel or some other remedy, but had gotten nowhere until he requested a slot on the council's agenda.

The project was financed by the Industrial Development Corporation, an entity separate from the city government, according to City Manager Ken Pfeiffer.

IDC said Ronco Excavation of Waxahachie simply made a mistake. 'The whole thing was intended to go in segments,' said Todd Fuller, director of IDC.

'(Ronco) just went too far.'

Fuller said there was no written scope of work showing Ronco where to begin and where to stop. Additionally, Ronco did not include any excavation charges in its original bid.

Council members assured Douthit the section would receive additional gravel and road base immediately and promised the concrete would be completed some time in March. They defended the contractor, saying he had not previously had time to bring a load of gravel to the site.

'I'm confused how a contractor has so much discretion,' said Douthit, pointing out the city should have retained a portion of Ronco's fee to encourage the contractor to leave the site in a satisfactory condition.

Fuller said he thought the city had retained fees, but later paid the contractor in full. 'He has been paid now,' he said. 'I have no idea when he was paid.'

According to Fuller, the incident occurred before he became the director of IDC.

Ronnie Farmer, owner of Ronco Excavation, could not be reached for comment, despite several attempts.

In a regular meeting on Jan. 22, IDC voted unanimously to issue a contract to Ronco to finish paving the road.

Meanwhile, city officials scheduled a meeting to begin discussions for future annexations in the city's ongoing effort to control development and enhance its visual image by eliminating 'undesirable' businesses.

'Our image is an issue to the 5,000 citizens in Red Oak,' he said emphatically after a special meeting on Dec. 28. 'Because of our frontages, (people) are stereotyping our entire town.'

The statement surprised some long-time residents of Red Oak. 'That is absolutely not an issue,' said one local business owner who read about recent annexations in the Jan. 4 issue of the Ellis County Press.

'(Citizens) are on the other side of the coin, saying it is difficult to deal with the city council,' she continued. 'There are those of us that think the council needs to be handed some kind of judgement themselves.'

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