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Tempers flare during Wichita Falls City Council meeting

An open conversation with the public for the circle trail on Lakeshore Drive gets heated
Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 8:59 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Wichita Falls City Council broke out into a heated conversation Tuesday morning over the Circle Trail being finished behind the homes on Lakeshore Drive. People who are for and against it were in attendance and gave their opinions on what they would like to see done.

“I am very much in favor of the current plan of the trail along Lake Wichita,” one Wichita Falls resident said.

Tuesday marked the longest city council meeting in years, with about three hours being used to talk about finishing the Circle Trail on Lakeshore Drive. There has been concern by some members of the community, so Mayor Stephen Santellana and the council elected to have an open conversation with anyone that wanted to speak about it.

“It’s not just trying to say you 28 residents or you bicyclist, this way I can get Wichita Falls involved and I can start getting the input, whether that’s through phone calls or emails,” Santellana said. “It gives the city of Wichita Falls, the rest of the citizens the availability to see what we are talking about and then give input towards that.”

With people speaking and supporting both sides of the Circle Trail being put in, tensions rose for a moment and led to an outburst by District 5 City Councilman Steve Jackson.

“You shut up, I don’t have to listen to you,” Jackson said.

“You already had went off on Tim a minute ago, you cussed him out. You said it was some B.S,” DeAndra Chenault, District 2 City Council member, said.

“It is B.S.,” Jackson said.

“Okay that’s fine but don’t talk to him like that,” Chenault said.

Jackson did apologize to his colleagues and the public for his remarks, but Santellana said that it is never appropriate to talk like that.

“When we are talking to citizens, we want to make sure that we don’t yell back at them, we don’t yell at staff, we don’t tell other council members to shut up, we don’t curse at the dais,” Santellana said. “All of those things took place today and it was embarrassing for the city of Wichita Falls and embarrassing for me.”

Santellana said this conversation about the Circle Trail with the public isn’t over, so moving forward things will have to be adjusted to make sure nothing like this will happen again.

“For me, I have to take responsibility for that because it is my meeting and I have to try and shut that down as quickly as possible,” Santellana said. “I will have some conversations with the council and staff and legal on my options in the future because that is not what we want the public to see. We never want to be one of those councils that fight amongst ourselves. We are able to disagree but we can do that civilly.”

Tuesday was strictly just a conversation day between the community and the city council. There was no action taken and development of that section of the Circle Trail is still a long way from beginning

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