New set of fitness equipment for Punk Smith Park | Livingston/Tangipahoa

Walker officials hope a new fitness ground will come to town.

On February 14, Walker City Council approved a resolution that will begin the process leading to the construction of a fitness court at Punk Smith Park located on Burgess Avenue.

The resolution says the city has submitted a grant application to the National Fitness Campaign to participate in the 2022 initiative that calls for the installation and activation of an outdoor fitness court.

Walker participates in this public fitness program along with 200 other cities across the United States. According to the resolution, Walker will accept a $30,000 grant from the National Fitness Campaign Grants Committee and state partners, then provide local matching of $55,000 to promote and implement a fitness field. free fitness for the public.

City chief of staff Jamie Etheridge said an outdoor fitness court is an important wellness ecosystem that supports healthier communities.

According to the Fitness Court website, the outdoor fitness program includes seven functional training zones, thousands of bodyweight exercises, and digital programming for adults of all ages and abilities.

The resolution states that the city is committed to constructing the fitness field and that construction will be completed by the end of the current calendar year. Mayor Jimmy Watson said a similar fitness station is now available at Sidney Hutchinson Park and the addition of the fitness court at Punk Smith Park will provide a convenient place for residents to enjoy exercise equipment. specialized.

At the same meeting, the board also approved an amendment to the vacation section of the city’s employee handbook that grants all full-time employees a day off on or near their birthday.

Watson said the city is unable to offer substantial raises to its employees due to budget constraints, but the extra vacation is a way to reward workers at no additional cost to the city. He said that in discussions with city department heads about the idea of ​​extra time off, it was determined that the best way to distribute the extra time off was to assign it to employees on their birthdays.

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The resolution only applies to workers who are listed in the manual as “10-hour employees.” Etheridge explained that these employees are those who work in the mayor’s areas of responsibility. In the event that the birthday falls on a weekend or other paid holiday, or on a day when the city is closed, the birthday leave may be taken any other day of the week following the actual birthday . “10-hour employees” now benefit from 10 paid holidays per year.

At his January meeting, the Mayor announced that at monthly council meetings in 2022, city department heads will take turns bringing their employees to the council meeting so they can be recognized and have the opportunity to meet the board. Such a session would also include a report on the activities of the department, it was announced.

The first such presentation was offered at the February meeting, with the spotlight on the Water and Sewer Department led by Wendy Montalbano. Montalbano, who holds certifications in various areas related to water and sewer systems, offered a detailed overview of his department’s accomplishments and responsibilities over the past year.

Montalbano has over 20 years of experience in the management of water and sewer systems.

She said the water system serves 5,100 customers. The water comes from four wells and is carried by 95 miles of pipes. She said that last year 503 water samples were tested to ensure high quality water was being supplied by the system.

About the city’s sewage system, Montalbano said that last year 365 million gallons of sewage were treated. She said some of that volume came from seepage from the city’s drainage system and that was causing a problem. “We have an aging drainage and sewage system that requires vigilance on our part. … We have to constantly monitor our processing system,” she said.

“No one can do this job alone. … It takes the whole team and we are fortunate to have dedicated workers who know their responsibilities,” Montalbano said. “Our workers are always ready to serve the city when called upon. When we lost power last year due to the storm, we worked around the clock to ensure that all generators were working and that our water and sewage systems continued to operate without interruption.”

Brent Bennett, representing the Badger water meter system the city installed last year, praised the water department for the way it maintained the system. The Badger system includes transmitters in each water meter that transmit water usage information to a central point in the water utility. Bennett said systems need to be properly maintained to operate at their peak and that Walker has “embraced technology and achieved a phenomenal 99.9% accuracy score over 5,000 meters of the system.”

In another action, the council approved the hiring of Brandon Tullos as a full-time police officer and Sammy Coniglio as a part-time officer. Delonta Miller has been approved as a reserve police officer.

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