SAN ANGELO, Texas — 2022 was a year full of projects and deliberation from the City Council on everything from infrastructure to city ordinances and we have listed their top five discussions from the past year.

Interstate 14 Corridor

The conversation began back in 2021 after President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. Shortly after Senator Ted Cruz added Tom Green County to the bill as part of the creation of Interstate 14, which will run through the northeast side of San Angelo, connecting Texas to Georgia and the states in between.

During the 2022 West Texas Legislative Summit August Pfluger discussed internet, interstate, and infrastructure in Texas. Pfluger stated that an average of 11.1 deaths happen on roadways every day in Texas, with the leading cause being the lack of room to recover from an accident when vehicles leave the roadway. The Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition said the corridor will improve the link between military installations like Goodfellow Air Force Base, to other installations along the route.

Despite the many benefits mentioned by lawmakers, not everyone is happy about it. During a City Council meeting on June 21, 2022, two local landowners expressed their concern during public comment. The first landowner told the council his land had been in his family since 1943 and stated that the proposed interstate would cut his property in half and the second landowner discussed concerns with school land by Highway 87.

The Council passed the approval of the interstate 4-2 with Karen Hesse Smith and Larry Miller opposed. (This project is led by TXDOT, not the City of San Angelo.)

This project will probably take many decades but is expected to increase growth in San Angelo.

Fiber Optics

Since House Bill 5 passed fiber-optic cables have been making their way to west Texas to help connect rural areas to the internet, but it has not been the smoothest transition for San Angelo.

Because of a huge influx of phone calls and emails regarding work being done by fiber optics companies the City of San Angelo released a statement on November 17, 2021, that the city was not conducting the work, and could not provide information related to the work or any resulting damage. This is because the area being worked on is defined as a public right of way – an area on, below, or above where the municipality has an interest (sidewalk, street, waterway, etc.)

Concho Valley Homepage has also received several reports of damage occurring either to personal property or city property such as the major water main break on Sunset and Knickerbocker on October 12, 2022, and another damaged water main which split open a neighborhood roadway on November 10, 2022.

Chief of Police

During the June 21, 2022, City Council meeting council members approved 6-0 to assign community members to serve on a Charter Review Committee to discuss reviewing the position of Chief of Police.

The committee presented three options– no changes and leave it as an elected position, leave it as an elected position and add minimum qualifications, or change from elected to an appointed position.

On December 13, 2022, the committee presented their final recommendation — the police chief’s position remains an elected one with additional minimum qualifications but suggested moving the date of that election up one year (from May 2024 to May 2023). 

The suggested recommended changes included adding more required qualifications, the term of office and the level of authority for the police chief.

This recommendation will be presented to voters in the May 6, 2023 election and the community will be able to vote yes – to leave the position as an elected position and add minimum qualifications or vote no – to leave the position as an elected position with no changes.

No actions have been taken at this time.

The Animal Shelter

The Animal Shelter and Concho Valley Paws have had many trials and tribulations this year. At the very beginning of the year, PAWS celebrated its official grand opening of the Judith & David Hirschfeld Adoption Center. The new center now can spay and neuter at their on-site clinic, which includes an infant animal ICU, medical recovery space, adoption center, administrative offices and a training center.

The San Angelo Animal Shelter made history in 2021 by achieving a save rate of over 90% earning San Angelo an official “no-kill” designation for 2021. On June 11, 2022, this quickly changed with 15 dogs euthanized during that month alone. One of the many factors that contributed to this is how many animals entered the shelter in 2022 on a daily basis. The shelter had over 300 dogs housed at once at this time.

The public was simultaneously outraged at the conditions of the shelter and supportive of their efforts to reduce the population and in August 2022, PAWS wrote a letter to the community to do better stating, “THE SHELTER IS A REFLECTION OF THE COMMUNITY IT SERVES. As such, I think it’s safe to say our community isn’t looking so good.” and “This community is the problem.

Because of the alarming numbers that the shelter saw this year, conditions were at an all-time low when PAWS informed the community of their need to find temporary fosters for 250 pets before September 1, 2022, because of an infestation of German Cockroaches.

On September 3, 2022, PAWS responded to community concerns regarding photographs circulating on social media (The images were taken during the time of the infestation depicting the Animal Shelters’ conditions). The post began by thanking the community for their help during the evacuation crisis and addressing issues the shelter had been facing at the time the photos were taken.

The City of San Angelo quickly responded with new operational changes on September 13, 2022, which disheartened PAWS. In order to prevent the euthanasia of hundreds of dogs in the Animal Shelter, PAWS asked the community to advocate for them and “Be The Change.”

Effective on August 16, 2022, Animal Services’ spay and neuter enforcement tightened. This meant that any citizens who failed to prove compliance with the ordinance would receive citations through a newly approved process, allowing violations to be issued by mail.

The Animal Shelter was still struggling to keep animal intakes down at the beginning of October warning that a dozen dogs were being threatened with euthanasia if not placed in a home or fostered. By October 29, 2022, the City announced an increase in the maximum capacity of animals at the animal shelter in order to allow for emergency events such as the one that shut down intakes in the month of December.

On December 14, 2022, the city announced that its animal shelter was over capacity because of hoarding case that resulted in 14 dogs being impounded at the shelter.

Sanctuary City of the Unborn

The discussion regarding whether the City of San Angelo would become a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn” began in September 2021, when Bishop Michael Sis of the Diocese of San Angelo asked city leaders to support the ordinance.

In February 2022, the City Council met to establish a day and time for a public hearing of the ordinance and after a lengthy discussion, the council approved in a 4-to-1 vote for a public hearing on the topic to be conducted on March 1, 2022.

During a City Council Meeting on August 16, 2022, a special election for November 8th regarding the ordinance was passed 7-0.

The Concho Valley has had mixed opinions on the subject, some of which resulted in protesters and counter-protesters gathering outside Immanuel Baptist Church on October 13, 2022. The gathering began after the church was notified that a group planned to set up a stand to protest the church, claiming the church had violated the separation of church and state written in the U.S. Constitution.

Shortly before the November 8th election questions arose about whether the ordinance would be legally enforceable. With San Angelo and Abilene having nearly identical ordinances cited issues included abortion coverage, lack of a statute of limitations and how difficult the ordinance would be to amend or revoke if passed.

On November 8, 2022, the ordinance passed with a total of 13,180 votes.

A special City Council meeting took place on November 22, 2022, to canvass the votes and finalize the tally of every vote.