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Oak Ridge North says goodbye to police chief at final council meeting of the year

December 18, 2018

A packed house at Oak Ridge North’s Monday night city council meeting bade an emotional farewell to the city’s chief of police for more than two decades.

Out-going Chief Andrew Walters was recognized by council Members Paul Bond, Frances Planchard, Clint McClaren, Dawn Candy, Mayor Jim Kuykendall and several of his officers as the city’s longest-serving police chief.

“He’s recreated this department into, what I believe, is one of the finest departments in the state,” Kuykendall said.

Colleagues praised Walters, who announced his impending retirement at an July city council meeting and named Lt. Tom Libby as his successor. Libby is set to take the helm of the police department on Jan. 1.

“I couldn’t ask for a better friend,” Officer Ralph Craig said of Walters. “I’m sad to see you go.”

It was a big night for the police department as a whole — Officers Charles Nation and David Stafford were also recognized for their 20 years and 5 years in the department, respectively.

“These are two of the finest examples of why we have the best police department in the state of Texas — bar none,” Kuykendall said.

Walters’ retirement comes after three decades as an officer in Oak Ridge North and serving as chief for 20 of them — under his watch, the department more than tripled in size to today’s 17 staff members and patrol officers. He and his wife, Cora, have plans to retire in Oklahoma.

“Thank you all for 30 years,” Walters said.

Public works projects

A solution for the daily rush hour headache along Robinson Road is on the horizon.

The Robinson Road realignment project on the intersection with Hanna Road is entering the last part of its design phase, Public Works Director Joe Sherwin reported to the city council. Final plans and specifications from Houston-based engineering firm RPS Klotz are expected early next year and the city is beginning a right-of-way process with residents who own property along Robinson Road near Hanna Road and the railroad.

“We’re really just negotiating right now,” Sherwin said.

The process is moving along, albeit slowly, with the bidding process for the realignment expected to begin in the spring — a conservative estimate puts construction beginning in October of 2019, Sherwin added.

Improvements within the city are also to come — the concrete pool decking at the Marilyn Edgar Park pool is set to be completely redone by February 2019.

New businesses

With the new year come new businesses in the small city.

Building official John Beisert announced the commencement of construction of a location of craft studio The Rustic Brush and the the expansion of an existing Rooms To Go location along the western edge of the city. The store is opening a sister location in an adjoining lot just to the south and will exclusively sell outdoor and patio furniture.

Miscellaneous notes

Council members Frances Planchard, Clint McClaren and Dawn Candy are up for re-election in May 2019 — the deadline to file as a candidate for Oak Ridge North city council is Jan. 16.

mrincon@chron.com

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