As regards our public water supply: under our current Mayor in Granite Shoals the City has engaged in a pattern of non testing and non reporting after lead excess in the water was discovered. While dismissing the importance in a September news interview, City Staff failed to mention a new lead excess violation had occurred in April of 2016. That fact is not covered in the article but it is in the public notice the city was forced to issue about their violations. Excerpts from both documents are below with links to the original sources. My opponent, the current Mayor claims he provided responsible leadership but these violations match his term in office and are as irresponsible as a public official can get. It is time for change in Granite Shoals. Vote Mike for Mayor!
Granite Shoals hit with lead testing violation
By David Barer, KXAN Investigative News
Published: September 2, 2016, 4:28 pm Updated: September 6, 2016
KXAN Investigative News
TCEQ lists six separate sets of violations spanning back more than four years. The violations include failing to properly collect lead and copper samples, failure to deliver public education materials following a failed lead test and failure to recommend optimal corrosion control treatment after the lead exceedence, among others, according to the TCEQ.
Granite Shoals City Public Notice May 19, 2016
We routinely sample at consumer’s taps for lead and copper. The tests show lead levels in the water above the limit, or “action limit”, so we are required evaluate the water system for corrosion control and recommend treatment options, if required, for corrosion control treatment. This treatment helps prevent lead and copper in the pipes from dissolving into the water. The list below has the corrosion control treatment actions which we did not complete, within the required time allowed by the drinking water regulations.
• Failure to submit Lead Public Education documentation to TCEQ
• Failed to submit recommendations for optimal corrosion control treatment
• Failed to perform corrosion control studies to determine whether treatment is necessary to reduce the corrosivity of the water
• Failed to maintain optimal water quality parameter minimum or ranges
• Failed to install and/or operate approved source water treatment and submit certification of treatment
• Failed to notify State of long - term change in treatment
• Failure to meet approved maximum permissible levels for entry point lead and copper
· Road Upgrades and Paving Side Streets
- 7 Million Dollar Road Project – The original road project last June was for Phillips Ranch Road only and for approximately 4 million dollars. I organized the citizens in the “Charge of the Road Brigade” and we advocated adding Prairie Creek and Valley View as a pre condition for citizens supporting a road project bond. We also criticized the plans for not accounting for water line replacements and drainage considerations. The Council modified the proposals while at the same time emphasizing we needed to pass the bond to have a chance at a 3.8 million dollar Federal Grant. After almost a year of discussing this grant at Council meetings with updated “grant progress” reports it turns out it was for only $50,000. No one ever confirmed the program details during this time yet the Council went to the voters with a bond package promoted on this non existent 3.8 million dollar grant. Now we have $3 million in approved bond money to do a 7 million dollar project and no additional funds or grants. As Mayor I will help guarantee the new project that must evolve efficiently utilizes our citizens’ bond money. I am initially proposing we only resurface Phillips Ranch Road and do major upgrades to Valley View and Prairie Creek for shorter distances. I am proposing we aggressively seek matching funding from State and Federal programs.
- Side Streets – The current City Administration and City Council have no plans to improve the side streets. “There is no money” is the standard answer every time citizens inquire on the subject. Over the last year the City and the Council absolutely refuse to discuss paving the side streets. I will add improving the side streets to the City’s agenda. We must begin a funding search and develop a schedule for this primary need. Many third world countries have better roads than the East side of Granite Shoals and this is inexcusable.
· Flooding, Drainage and Sewage
- In conjunction with the proposed street work the Citizens’ Advisory Group which helped me organize the “Charge of the Road Brigade” demanded the City take action on flooding and drainage along with accounting for water line upgrades before implementing road improvements. I will continue to make this a priority.
- The city must eventually bear the cost of a sewer system. In earlier proposals the Council and City failed to seek outside funding and asked the citizens to bear the entire project cost. Yet the government generally funds this type of infrastructure project at a higher ratio of 75%. It was a crucial error to not factor this into earlier proposals. I plan to develop a committee to specifically look at State and Federal funding opportunities in general, and sewer system grants and matches specifically.
Over the next few days I will post my positions on issues facing Granite Shoals Texas. I will discuss the main roads, side streets, water lines, sewer system proposals, City revenue generating, solar energy, citizen respect, flooding, drainage, parks, City code, code enforcement, and project funding sources. Today however, I will begin by explaining the Office of Mayor in a Council-Manager form of local government like we have in Granite Shoals, Texas.
Mayors in council-manager communities are key political leaders and policy developers. In the case of the council, the mayor is responsible for soliciting citizen views in forming these policies and interpreting them to the public.
The mayor presides at council meetings, serves as a spokesperson for the community, facilitates communication and understanding between elected and appointed officials, assists the council in setting goals and advocating policy decisions, and serves as a promoter and defender of the community. In addition, the mayor serves as a key representative in intergovernmental relations.
The mayor, council, and manager constitute a policy-development and management team.
I promise to fulfill all these responsibilities to the best of my ability. - Mike Steenbergen
For almost a year Mike Steenbergen has been fighting an uphill battle to get the City of Granite Shoals and its governing Council to research and consider solar power options. On Tuesday night Steenbergen, candidate for Mayor, along with Jim Spaulding, PEC Director of Project Development Energy Services, presented various options to the City Council meeting.
Steenbergen was promoting two ideas - one to create a municipal electric utility based on solar power and two to create a team of local professionals to research solar options. The team would participate in the SunShot Community Solar competition offered by the Department of Energy. He encouraged engaging adjacent landowners to participate in exploring what is being called the "new oil" as prices have dropped to competitive levels with fossil fuels. He also drew attention to EPA reclamation assistance for placing solar installations in former mining areas that may apply to some city properties. He mentioned various Federal grant programs that encourage solar development including USDA and Department of Energy programs.
Steenbergen ended his presentation by saying that PEC Board Member Cristi Clement described the challenges for a small municipal utility as almost insurmountable. Clement offered other options and Steenbergen admitted his proposal was not feasible based on her explanation of Franchise fee costs for a municipal utility. He did continue to recommend that a team be formed to research solar power and available funds. Ms Clement did offer other new options and Steenbergen introduced PEC Representative Jim Spaulding to explain them.
Spaulding, with extensive experience in solar array deployments and Federal grant writing discussed the new evolution of PEC's distributed solar efforts. He is part of a program form PEC that is selecting 15 different one-megawatt solar arrays from their service area. The cost for development is free for the City and a revenue stream for providing the land is generated for the City. Spalding also mentioned the prospect of lower utility bills because of the competitive price of green energy in the current market. The second program Spaulding mentioned was a new offer by PEC for members to sign up for lower cost green energy. This innovative effort should give electricity users the option of choosing to subscribe to lower cost or at least equal cost green energy. Granite Shoals is the first City to officially hear of the program in a formal PEC presentation to a governing Board though the Coop has provided the information in recent press releases.
Mr. Spaulding ended by mentioning the Department of Energy SunShot Solar Initiative would have another chance to participate next year. He encouraged this kind of local engagement about solar energy. While the 15 sites have been allocated for the first phase of the new distributed solar program, Spaulding encouraged Granite Shoals participation in the next round of site selections. In regard to the challenges of installing solar arrays in the Granite of the Llano Uplift, Steenbergen mentioned alternative methods used locally and Spalding deferred to RES, the actual solar array construction firm, to determine if the installation was economically feasible.
Pictured are Jim Spaulding on the left, Cristi Clement in the middle, and Mike Steenbergen to the right. Also pictured are the present City Council members and Jim Spaulding presenting.
Mike Steenbergen proposes that Granite Shoals enter this Department of Energy contest with a chance to win an April award of $10,000 or 60,000 and a chance at a $500,000 Grand Prize. The SunShot Prize - Solar in Your Community Challenge is a prize competition that aims to expand solar electricity access to all Americans, especially under served segments such as low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, state, local, and tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations. In order to make solar more accessible and inclusive for every American, the challenge works to spur the development of new and innovative financial and business models that serve non-rooftop solar users such as community solar.
Offering $5 million in cash prizes and technical assistance over 18 months, the challenge supports teams across the country to develop projects or programs that expand solar access to under served groups, while proving that these business models can be widely replicated and adopted by similar groups.
Participation in the challenge is open to:
Teams working to develop a portfolio of solar projects in their communities or create new solar programs that extend solar access to LMI households and nonprofits; and
Technical assistance providers (consultants and coaches) that assist teams throughout the 18-month challenge by providing the coaching and resources teams need to create innovative new business models.
The Solar in Your Community Challenge is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative and administered by The State University of New York (SUNY) Polytechnic Institute. Visit the challenge website to learn more, apply, and get involved. http://www.solarinyourcommunity.org/
Granite Shoals Council, Manager Pursue Non Existent $3 Million Grant: Citizens and voters in Granite Shoals Texas were shocked last night with the abrupt announcement that there never has been a $3 Million program available for application at the USDA. Claiming that this was an "in house" grant they had been working on for a year, apparently there was never even a grant writer involved and for a year no one ever bothered to ask and confirm how much money was available. But the Council and Manager both went to the people claiming the money was available and got the citizens to pass a 3 million dollar matching (supposedly) bond in November. The $6.8 million dollar road project just crashed. There is no longer enough money to do three main roads in Granite Shoals. Michael Steenbergen commented "As a candidate for Mayor of our Granite Shoals I am obligated to ask is this just incompetence or was it deception? The USDA program offers $50,000 and not $3.5 million dollars. That is an awfully large difference and reflects on the adequacy of our current city management and governing in this city The Mayor and Council claimed ignorance and that they were mislead...something that has a familiar ring in my ears (sewer fiasco)."
Mike Steenbergen Running for Mayor of Granite Shoals
Granite Shoals, Texas
Monday, February 20, 2017
Mike (Michael) Steenbergen is running for Mayor of Granite Shoals, Texas. Steenbergen, an area resident for 8 years and a Texan for 49 years, has been active in Granite Shoals politics and local government for the last several years. Considered a Citizens’ Advocate, eight months ago he led a group of local citizens in providing input on the local road projects and just three months ago he led Granite Shoals voters in overturning an unpopular local ordinance. He is now on the General Election ballot to be held May 6, 2017.
“I have proven my ability to activate the voters of Granite Shoals and I am now asking for their mandate in electing me as Mayor of our fine City” Steenbergen stated. “Critical issues confront us as a City: Infrastructure, Financing, Water Lines, Roads, Water Supply, Excessive Code and Sewage. These are just a few of the issues I am prepared to engage on behalf of the citizens.”
Steenbergen brings a variety of skills to our local City Government. With experience in corporate management, outlet expansions, site locating, finish out projects, local politics and local government he commits to public service: “I will do my best to honor the people of Granite Shoals and to be their voice of reason in local government.”
The campaign may be contacted at
Campaign Email: Michael@michaelsteenbergen.com
Campaign Website: www.graniteshoalstexas.org
Campaign Facebook: www.facebook.com/votesteenbergen
Campaign Phone: 512-234-5348
It was just 8 months ago that the citizens banded together in The Road Brigade to protest the narrow sited planning for the current arterial road bond project. Granite Shoals City Manager Ken Nickel had focused his road plans on Phillips Ranch Road and around his Taj Mahal City Hall. He had neglected critical infrastructure and drainage requirements and was rushing the project forward without proper planning and consideration. The citizen input forced Nickel to add emphasis on Prairie Creek and Valley View also and forced consideration of drainage and water line issues. Candidate for Mayor Michael Steenbergen has once again raised the battle cry as plans to allocate the bond money will be considered this Monday [see below]. Please, all citizens that care about the $3 million we just gave Ken Nickel need to show up to be custodians of the public interest. Join me Monday!
Granite Shoals Texas Road Bonds
Special Called City Council Meeting
Monday February 20th at 5:45 PM at City Hall
2221 N Phillips Ranch Rd