Darrach takes City Council seat

New councilmember replaces Mike Rodgers on Midlothian governing body; Dec. 8 runoff to fill final place

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror

A changing of the guard took place at last Monday’s meeting of the Midlothian City Council, as one new councilmember took his seat for the first time following the Nov. 3 election and another ended an eight-year tenure.

The council canvassed the votes for Places 1 and 2 and certified Wayne Sibley and Walter Darrach as the respective winners. Sibley, Darrach and Mayor Richard Reno were sworn in to their new terms.

Darrach, who ran unopposed, was seated in place of outgoing Place 2 councilmember Mike Rodgers. Sibley won his race for re-election to Place 1, and Reno was unopposed for re-election as mayor.

Darrach is the owner of Just Plane Maintenance, a private jet maintenance and management firm in Dallas. Darrach and his wife Tiffany moved to Midlothian from Mansfield in 2013. The Darrachs and their six children, ranging in age from just under two to 11 years old, are members of Gateway Church in Southlake.

Rodgers was honored for his service to the city. Rodgers served on several city boards, including the Planning and Zoning Commission, and was first elected to the City Council in 2012 and re-elected twice. Rodgers decided this year not to run for re-election to a third full term.

One more seat remains to be filled on the Midlothian City Council. A runoff for the Place 6 special election will be held Dec. 8 between Hud Hartson and Tiffany Robinson Carra. The winner of this runoff will complete the unexpired term of the late Art Pierard, which has gone unfilled since Pierard’s death in a February auto accident.

Early voting will take place Nov. 23-25 and Nov. 30-Dec. 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Dec. 3-4 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  All voting will take place at the Midlothian Conference Center at 1 Community Circle.

Other items

• Consent agenda items that were approved included authorization of the annual Ellis County Toy Run for Sunday, Dec. 13; a resolution calling for the aforementioned Dec. 8 Place 6 runoff; a resolution designating the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror as official newspapers of the city for fiscal year 2020-2021; and approval of previous minutes.

• Two specific-use permits were approved, one for a restaurant with drive-thru services at 1001 East Main St., Suite C and another for a retail cigar lounge at 3261 FM 663, Unit B. The restaurant measure passed 5-0 as Mayor Reno recused himself from discussion, and the cigar lounge request passed 4-1 with Darrach voting against and councilmember Ted Miller recusing himself.

• Councilmembers approved an amendment to a planned development to allow front-entry garages in a development north of Montgomery Road and on the west side of Joe Wilson Road. A second planned development amendment for a property at the northeast corner of Walnut Grove Road and FM 1387 was continued to Dec. 8.

• The council approved a 36-month lease with Dell Computers for 39 laptops and 50 desktops as part of the city’s computer replacement program. The vote was 5-0 with councilmember Clark Wickliffe recusing himself.

• A three-year license agreement with SHI was approved to cover all Microsoft licenses in use by the city. The contract has an annual cost of $66,532 for a total of just under $200,000.

• City manager Chris Dick discussed a proposed upgrade of the Historic Midlothian Gymnasium, which was built in 1950. A non-profit organization has been formed to restore the old gymnasium and put it back in use, and the organization has received initial approval of a $500,000 grant from the Midlothian Community Development Corporation board for the renovation project. Midlothian ISD owns the gym, but ownership would revert to the organization for a nominal fee. Dick said discussions are ongoing with the MISD board of trustees to add language to the contract giving the city the right of first refusal should the effort to restore and reopen the gym fall short.

• A license agreement with Manna House for use of the newly-purchased Larson building at 301 W. Main St. was approved. The agreement is for Manna House to host its Angel Tree program Dec. 10-16. The Angel Tree program had been held at Lighthouse Church in previous years, but the October 2019 tornado destroyed the main sanctuary of the church. The motion passed 5-0, with mayor pro tem Justin Coffman abstaining.

• The purchase of two Stryker Lifepak 15 monitors to replace and upgrade monitors assigned to ambulances was approved at an amount not to exceed about $85,500. The funds will come from the city’s share of the Texas Coronavirus Relief Funds Grant, and the expenditure was approved in a separate budget amendment.

• Following a short executive session, the council approved the purchase of two small parcels of land for right of way and a temporary construction easement at a cost of $33,967. A separate but similar purchase was authorized for two small parcels at a cost of $65,744. Both purchases are associated with the South Walnut Grove Road project.