Council approves airport hangar purchases, quarantine leave policy

The City of Devine took a step closer to full ownership of property at the Municipal Airport after the City Council voted unanimously to move forward with purchasing Hanger 5 and Hangar 7.
The decision to purchase the hangars, both currently privately owned, was made following close to 20 minutes of Executive Session during the meeting held last Tuesday, October 19.
After Council reconvened in Open Session, District 5 Councilwoman Debbie Randall made the motion to proceed with purchasing the hangars and have City Attorney Tom Cate draw up the contracts to do so. District 2 Councilwoman Angela Pichardo provided the second for the motion, which passed with support from District 1 Councilman Rufino “Flipper” Vega, District 3 Councilman David Espinosa, and District 4 Councilwoman Kathy Lawler.
No potential price was mentioned in Open Session.
Council unanimously approved a $1 million Certificate of Obligation for the purchase of four other privately owned hangars during the June 15 meeting (see “City of Devine borrowing ‘$1 million to purchase 4 airplane hangars,’ news revealed in open session” in the June 23 edition of The Devine News).
Quarantine leave policy
Cate explained that during one of the state’s recent legislative sessions, a law was passed requiring paid leave for peace officers who are ordered to quarantine or isolate because of a possible or confirmed exposure to a communicable disease while on duty.
Cate presented Council with an ordinance providing for paid leave for all employees ordered to isolate or quarantine under the above circumstances, not just peace officers.
“We have to do it for police officers, and we have discussed about it doing it for our other employees,” Cate said. “And this will include the other employees, and it’ll be retroactive to January 1 because we have had some employees out from leave anyway. So this would just cover us.”

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Lawler questioned the use of the word “disease,” which Cate confirmed was the word used in the legislation.
“The way this new legislation reads is communicable disease,” Cate said. “Flu is communicable. So anything that’s judged by the [City’s] public health authority, Dr. Neel, to be a communicable disease, and we have an employee out because of that, then would be entitled to this paid leave.”
Dr. Richard Neel, who practices at the Little Alsace Urgent Care Center in Castroville, is the City’s Public Health Authority.
“So Dr. Neel would make the determination between disease and illness?” Lawler asked. “Because there’s a big, big difference.”
City Secretary Dora Rodriguez asked about the procedure for an employee who visited their own primary care physician,
“If they’re diagnosed with the flu, then we need to contact Dr. Neel and ask him, in his opinion, is that a communicable disease,” Cate said.
Cate said many municipalities in the have questions about how to interpret the new law.
“It’s just not us,” Cate said. “Everybody, all the cities ae saying, what is a communicable disease? A cold is a communicable disease.”
A Randall-Pichardo motion to adopt the paid quarantine leave policy for all City employees passed unanimously.
Other business
A Pichard-Espinosa motion to extend the Public Health Emergency Declaration until January 2022 at the request of Emergency Management Coordinator Rob Flores passed 5-0.
The only change made to the declaration was to remove the aspects pertaining to the closure of the George S. Woods Community Center, which will re-open for reservations by the public on Monday, November 8.
A Randall-Pichardo motion to nominate Mamie Navarro for the Medina County Appraisal District Board of Directors for 2022-2023 also passed unanimously. Navarro currently serves on the Board.
The next Regular Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 16.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer