The Durant City Council, during it regular meeting last week, took a big step toward outfitting the city’s police vehicles and officers with video systems.


The idea of police vehicle cameras and officer body cameras in Durant has been discussed in the past, but funding has been prohibitive.


Following extensive research and meetings by City Manager John Dean, Police Chief David Houser and others with WatchGuard Video, the world’s leading manufacturer of police video systems, over the last several months a cost-efficient plan was devised.


At the meeting, the council approved the purchase of 31 integrated systems that will be mounted in each patrol car as well as body cameras.


Council members also approved the purchase of 19 additional stand-alone body cameras for reserve and code enforcement officers for a total cost of $284,150.


According to Houser, Motorola, which has purchased WatchGuard, will set up a three-year lease with the city after which the city would own all the video equipment. There is a one-year warranty on all equipment, which is being produced at the company’s facility in Allen, Texas.


"We’ve known this would be a nice thing to have, but the funding just hasn’t been there," Houser told the council. "We arranged some meetings to come up with this plan. If it keeps us from having to pay out even one claim, we may be essentially making money at the end of the term."


During the meeting, council members also approved Ordinance 1913 to amend a previous statute that would charge local farmers a $100 license fee to sell their produce in town as opposed to the previous amount of $1,000.


Meanwhile, a three-year service contract was agreed to with Retail Strategies, Inc., in the amount of $140,000 for that group to assist with retail development services in the city.


"We will provide a team of local partners, including the Chamber of Commerce and Main Street, to work with them and try to recruit companies to town," Economic Development Director Lisa Taylor told the council.


"They have data that shows how many customers in Durant that go to places like Chick-Fil-A in other cities. They do all the marketing and test strategies to train our team to go out and recruit. They will also aid and assist in identifying additional businesses to meet the needs of our citizens and tell us good opportunities for us."


Working off a recommendation from the Industrial Authority, the council approved economic development sales tax funds in the amount of $25,000 to pay for permanent infrastructure around the industrial building located at 115 Lost St.


That sum will help replace the sidewalk and drainage problems near the entrance right-of-way. Lost Street Brewing Company is currently scheduled to open at that location in October.


In other business, City Attorney Tom Marcum informed the council that there had been some citizen complaints about construction noise near residential areas and that a citation was issued.


The court, however, determined that the city’s current noise statute didn’t apply on a noise ordinance specific to construction.


A new ordinance was presented that established a limit of 65 decibels while prohibiting construction noise from 8 p.m.-7 a.m. if adjacent to residential areas.


Some on the council questioned how the new ordinance would be enforced without the use of multiple decibel meters, but the proposal was passed in a four-to-one vote with member Danny Sherrer dissenting.


Also during the meeting, the current state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic was extended until Sept. 9 with no changes.


Finally, James Bishop was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. The council was informed that John Cain has been hired as the city’s new street superintendent. Richard Ezell was promoted in the emergency management department, and Blake Hoffman was named an administrative specialist.