A Year in Reflection
Hopes for the Future
Oftentimes, this time of year is a time of reflection and we stop, take pause for a few moments on the year that has passed behind us. 2018 seemed like it passed by faster than any year in recent memory for me.
I’ve now had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing place that is Claude and Armstrong County since July 2017. Not all of that time have I been a resident and been here on a daily basis, however I did get the amazing opportunity to move here full time in July of this year and become a part of this wonderful place that is Claude and Armstrong County.
As I look back at 2018, there were many things that took place over the last year as it relates to the City of Claude and its operations and these are merely a sampling of the work that has been done over the past 12 months. There’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes that no one ever knows or sees.
During 2018, Claude EMS was able to secure a new ambulance and cardiac monitor using the Governor’s Extraordinary Emergency Fund grant through the Texas Department of Health Services. This resulted in $190,000.00 in grant monies, in which the City of Claude nor its taxpayers had any out of pocket costs on. This equipment set our EMS service up for years to come. The City Council of Claude also approved the construction of a new two bay EMS station complete with training and living quarters in the South part of the Fire Station on Parks Street. This new facility will be an asset in the training of new and existing personnel, provide a location for persons to stay when they come to work for our department, and will also serve as a backup Emergency Operations Center in the event of large-scale events in Armstrong County. This new center should be up and operational in the next couple of months, and we are excited for this new necessary addition to Claude and Armstrong County.
While we are about our EMS agency, it’s also important to reflect on the people that work with our EMS agency. Licensing requirements, continuing education, and the technical knowledge and skills that are required for EMS personnel continue to be a challenge to those currently licensed and those willing to become licensed. Our EMS agency here is staffed by a blend of volunteer and paid personnel. While the City of Claude does not have the current ability, nor funding to be able to have full time staff that we can require to cover shifts, the pay that our personnel receive is better than most rural and frontier communities of our size and scope. We are fortunate here in Claude to have the personnel that we have and the ability that we have to provide this service to the citizens of Claude and Armstrong County. Without people who are dedicated to the community in which they serve, our EMS agency will struggle. I simply remind everyone of where our agency was in 2016/2017 and what is has become in the last 12-15 months. This would not be possible without the commitment of the Claude City Council and the people that currently make up Claude EMS.
I encourage each of you, when you see our EMS personnel out on the streets to thank them for the service they are providing to the City of Claude and Armstrong County. I also encourage anyone who is interested in becoming a part of the Claude EMS team, to come by City Hall and visit with us about the opportunities whether that be gaining certification to work with our organization or if you already have certification, the team could use your help to ensure that we continue to provide the necessary care to the residents and those that pass through Claude and Armstrong County.
2018 was a challenging year for the members of the Claude Volunteer Fire Department. The wet conditions that were had in 2017, and the drought conditions that set in late in 2017, into 2018 made for a highly volatile environment in which our Fire Department saw an extremely active fire season this year. From multiple roadside fires to fire events that lasted for multiple days and even weeks.
This was never more evident than during the Mallard Fire which occurred in May of 2018 and consumed somewhere around 175,000 acres of land in Armstrong County. This fire will go down as one of the largest fires to take place in Armstrong County and it stretched our local resources thin. However, there are multiple things to take into consideration when we reflect on 2018 in this perspective. If it were not for the volunteers who sacrificed their time, how much worse could this fire have been? The members of the Claude Volunteer Fire Department took this challenge head on and we should all be thankful and grateful for the men and women that answer that call when it goes out.
With all of that said, it would not be true reflection unless we recognized our mutual aid partners. Without the assistance from the Washburn Fire Department organization on many of these fires, we would have found ourselves in a struggle and we value our relationship with them on all active fires in Armstrong County and they are a vital part of our overall first responder team that we have amassed here in Armstrong County. We also must take pride in the many other relationships and mutual aid partners that make up the “Panhandle Army” and who came willingly, unselfishly, and tirelessly to help us on not only the infernal Mallard Fire, but several other large fires as well. Community, willingness to help, and teamwork are one of the things that make the Panhandle of Texas unique, and we thank all those agencies who helped, donated, and gave of themselves to ensure the well being of those in our communities and our county.
As with EMS, finding personnel who are willing to serve on our volunteer fire department seems to be a challenge sometimes. If you would like more information on becoming a member of the Claude Volunteer Fire Department, stop by City Hall and let us point you in the right direction of who to talk too. It takes an army, and we have a great one started, but we could always use more people.
City of Claude
If you look around the City of Claude, you can’t help but to notice many things that have taken place over the last year. Our square has grown and continues to revitalize, our businesses here in town have also continued to make progress, and our small town, now, in my opinion is on a path that ensures the success of Claude as a whole!
The work of the Claude Economic Development Committee and the Claude Chamber of Commerce has not only provided infrastructure improvements to existing business, helped new business get started, but they also have re-energized our community and have shown a commitment to making Claude a better place, and a place that is merely more than a dot on a map.
The City began its water well project in 2018 and will be bringing three new wells on line in the near future which will help us ensure that this vital part of our infrastructure is more solid for future needs and growth. Planning for the future is now something that is looked at daily, and a more proactive versus reactive approach is being taken.
A new combined City of Claude, Chamber of Commerce, and Economic Development Committee website was created, with the intent to be a common access point for all things Claude. The City of Claude has also provided the ability to receive your city utility bills online and also pay them online.
A new Welcome Sign has been started on the west side of Claude, out by the Treasure Chest location, and will soon give a great welcome to those that travel through our city and a welcome home to those that live here.
New radar speed signs will be going up in the next several weeks on the east and west ends of town on Highway 287, in an effort to make travel through town safer and they will also provide data that will allow us to make additional request to TXDOT on safety measures due to the traffic volume we see.
There are other projects that are occurring and ones that are being evaluated, all in an effort to improve the city that we call home.
As I mentioned earlier, there are things that go on behind the scenes that no one ever sees or knows, and all those things are geared toward ensuring the success and keeping the things that make Claude unique.
With all of that said, I would like to take the time to personally thank the City of Claude Public Works Department, City Hall personnel, Mayor, City Council, Claude EMS personnel, and the fire department personnel in Claude and Washburn for their commitment to the City of Claude and by working tirelessly together to ensure the best and what’s right within our City.
It will continue to take all of us, support from the community, county relationships, and constant communication and evaluation to ensure that we continue to make these strides and not roll off the rails.
It’s an absolute pleasure and blessing to be a small part of this city and county, and the working relationships and friendships that I have made here, are just more evident of the character of Claude and part of what makes this little place great.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and I wish all of you a prosperous 2019, and together we can all continue to make Claude great!
City Administrator, City of Claude, TX