STITES — As Stites Mayor Rey Mireles reflects on the city’s accomplishments over the past year, he is pleased with the completion of the sewer replacement project. Working with the highway department (with Gerry Cathey as go-between) to replace the culverts at the south end of town is another big accomplishment for the city. He is hopeful that they can avoid a repeat of the damaging flooding the city has had in recent years.

“I requested the highway department include three discharge lines under the highway,” Mireles said, “then we can pump water into the river and avoid blocking the highway.”

Work on a new park on city property began with pouring concrete for sidewalks and a pad for a gazebo and planting a new town Christmas tree. Mireles appointed a committee with Debbie Howard in charge to work on the park, knowing they would get it done.

“The city needs to set the example for the town to have nice looking property.,” Mireles said. Work on the park will continue in 2021 with the addition of the gazebo and landscaping. He views the park as “giving pride to the city.”

Mireles is pleased with the work of city maintenance staff, noting that Paul Jones and Mike Goodwin “are a blessing.” When they take on a job, “they will get it done right.”

“I am excited to see a new business coming into town,” Mireles said of Sam Augello’s tire store. The family-owned tire and mechanic business has proved popular, with good prices and service, according to Mireles. “It is great to have another retail business for people.”

For the year ahead, Mireles is excited about the replacement of the city water system, including replacing two aging water storage tanks with one new larger tank, replacing the water lines and installing automatic meters.

Replacement of the water lines will allow for “looping all water lines,” eliminating dead ends, which are bad for a water system, according to Mireles. The installation of automatic water meters will eliminate the need for two people to go to every house to read meters. The meters will upload water usage information to the city’s computer.

“We can detect leaks from broken pipes,” Mireles said. He “expects to save people a lot of money” since the existing system is losing water. There is considerable disparity between the amount of water being pumped and how much ends up in the sewage system, which is also metered.

Fire chief Mike Goodwin is starting work on floor plans for a new fire station, with office space for city hall in an up-to-date building. According to Mireles, the existing building is leaky, with cold air causing a problem for the fire engine. The city is working with Michelle Bly at TD&H Engineering on project development and to help find grant money for construction.

Mireles is one year into his third, four-year-term as mayor, but plans to leave at the end of 2021 before his term ends. He will appoint someone to finish his term, with concurrence from the Stites city councilors. Mireles said he is “trying to encourage younger people to take charge of your town, figure out what you want it to be.” He hopes young people will step up to run for city council, since most of the councilors are in their 70s.

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