Survival of the Fittest in Palestine Texas

By Johnnie Belle Reagan

It is safe to say that you guys down in East Texas are really being put to the test. Dying from non alcoholic liver cancer sounds fun right?

Unfortunately, the small town of Alto is still reeling from the effects of tornado damage from Saturday April 13, 2019, while Elkhart was hit with minor damage Thursday April 18, 2019 morning.  I have heard from many that the turn out for volunteers has been in true Texas style of neighbor helping neighbor.

Distressing is the fact that at a time when Oncor is working to restore electricity to many most effected by the storm, they had to be pulled away to address a manmade issue in the City of Palestine.  All residents of Anderson County should be motivated to take notice.  Mother Nature sometime is not our friend and the problems caused by Texas weather is devastating.  Most manmade disasters can be completely averted by being proactive.  

It has been repeatedly stated that the City of Palestine’s waste of more than ½ a million dollars going after the Lawnmower Man is a travesty of justice.  The last week residents got a taste of the effect bad Government can have on every house hold and resident of a Municipality. 

April 18, 2019 will forever be the day that brought Palestine’s crap to the top.  Residents on City water woke up to dry pipes.  No water to bathe, cook, clean, or worse of all flush the toilet.  Business closed.  Easter plans were cancelled.  Schools were shut.  The overall will be felt for days as it will take days before the water is clean enough for consumption.

Now after reading a recent post on Facebook I am wondering if Palestine is not exercising some kind of natural selection, survival of the fittest.  Apparently if you had the misfortune of not using social media, smart phone, home phone or watch the news you may have been totally unaware of the water dilemma.  When the water was restored some residents did not know about the boil notice and that the water was unsafe to drink or use for cooking.  When you are known as a retirement community you may have been weeding out a certain tax base that you can’t afford to lose.

Palestine officials immediately notified some, but not all residents, they were placing port-a-potties at several locations around the City.  Soon after they also offered up free drinking water.  Also, Facebook posts reported that local stores shelves were emptied of bottled water.  This was of no benefit to the disabled and aged home bound residents.

The first reports that came out estimated it may take 72 hours to restore power to the plant and water service to the City.  Much to the delight of many the service was restored within 24 hours with a boil water alert causing many of the restaurants to remain closed. Now, most of the major news networks have picked up the story.  There haven’t been any reports of sickness caused by the tainted water that are known. Local news broadcast is not a guarantee to meet everyone that needs to be notified.

This is just some really good advice; City of Palestine while you are working on your backup plan to make sure that total failure doesn’t happen in the near future as we are in the middle of bad weather season, you might just want to also look into a plan to notify ALL your residents. 

While your representatives argue over high dollar cameras to catch illegal dumping, the basic needs and services of the City of Palestine are falling apart.  The streets are cratered and the water undrinkable, while Lawyer Ron Stutes skipped off with enough of your tax dollars to buy 4 backup power units.  Last but not least, you just might be killing off part of your population.

Current Mayor Presley was quoted in the local paper as to having had knowledge of the problem existed for years.  Yes, he has been on City Council for years.  The Palestine Herald Press stated that it has been almost 2 decades.  That is not something to brag about since over that time you have had an active roll in almost 20 budget cycles. 

Twenty cycles that overlooked the basic need for backup power to vital system in your infrastructure.  But did not overlook grants that were given to property’s owned by the Texas Area Fund Foundation. Here is one example. Instead of all that money spent to refurbish the area around the “Pint and Barrel,” Maybe put some of those grants toward the city infrastructure?

You would think that having backup power to your Water Treatment Plant would be paramount.  Call Ron maybe he will buy Palestine one.  He has a little extra of the citizens tax money in his pocket.