Five becomes four.
At the end of last week’s pre-agenda workshop, Mexico Beach Councilman Lanny Howell announced that he’d be resigning at the beginning of January.
Howell told the council and those in attendance that he and his wife would be relocating to Arkansas in order to spend more time with their grandchildren.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” said Howell of his four years on the council. “It was a hard decision, but family comes first.”
Howell said that he and his wife plan to become snowbirds and will spend their winters in Mexico Beach.
Mayor Al Cathey expressed his remorse at hearing Howell’s resignation but took the opportunity to wish him the best.
The remaining councilmembers provided words of encouragement to Howell and quickly moved to discussion of how a replacement would be found.
The new member of the council will be appointed by the current members.
Mexico Beach residents interested in the position should submit a letter of interest to City Hall no later than Dec. 31.
At some point in January, a special meeting will be held to speak with candidates and find the best fit.
Another week goes by and the Historic Parker House still stands empty and burnt.
After obtaining a second evaluation of the building’s foundation from Nova Engineering, the results of which echoed the opinion of the council that it was unsafe to rebuild upon, the council awaits the final decision from the insurance company.
The council hopes to receive an extra $87,000 in funds to pay for damages to the foundation from a fire two years ago, but hasn’t received any money in the past two years.
“They promised us an answer back as soon as they can,” said Councilman Jack Mullen, who was spearheading the communication with the insurance company.
Mullen said that the insurance company had sent Nova’s assessment to their own engineers for further investigation, but that he expected an answer in the next few weeks.
“They sent the claim to their engineers for review,” said Cathey. “That seems to be the case for the last 14 months.”
Councilwoman Tanya Castro asked Mullen if they could give the insurance company a deadline for their response and a final decision, but Mullen said that he didn’t feel like they were on a level bargaining field with the company.
Mullen said that if the insurance company decided not to reimburse the city for the foundation, it would have to cover the expenses of removal.
Members of the community who were present expressed their desire to see progress made on the new city hall and Castro agreed that the council should make a decision and move forward.
“I’m not saying that we walk away from the money,” said Castro, “but I’m also not saying we walk away and do nothing.”
All members of the council agreed that they want to see progress on replacing the burnt-out building with a new city hall. Cathey encouraged Mullen to touch base with the insurance company if he hadn’t heard anything by the first of the year.
“We do keep in contact,” said Mullen. “The citizens are not happy. They’re tired of looking at it. They want some action.”