Mission cancels Halloween events, including trick or treating

The coronavirus won’t be permitted to participate in Halloween festivities in Mission this year.

During this week’s regularly called meeting, the Mission city council discussed the modification of COVID-19 guidelines in the city of Mission. The first on that list of modifications was the cancellation of all Halloween events to take place on Oct. 31, 2020 – including the practice of trick or treating, in which children and young adults donning costumes walk door-to-door to celebrate the holiday and collect candy.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, cities and counties across the country have canceled the tradition in order to slow the spread of a virus that has killed over 215,000 Americans since March.

City Manager Randy Perez presented the modifications to council, and asked them to make motions on each change or update to current guidelines. He noted that Hidalgo County officials have stated they have plans to also cancel Halloween events like trick or treating across the county, but had not made any announcements or issued orders prior to the meeting on Monday, Oct. 12.

“Here in the city, we are planning on not having our city Halloween event,” Perez said. “It was not recommended at the last meeting we had with the county for these types of events to occur, for safety and precautions.”

Council member Jessica Ortega-Ochoa said in her opinion, if schools are not open for in-person instruction, as a city they should think about everyone’s safety.

“I’m sure that the employees would like one night off to be with their families and not have an event,” Ortega-Ochoa said. “Because the county medical doctor has advised against having anything [in Halloween], I would like to see we cancel all events for now unless something comes up in the next couple of weeks.”

The other council members agreed with her – Mayor Pro-Tem Norie Gonzalez Garza said her preference would also be to not have trick or treating allowed in the city limits in Mission. All the city council members voted to cancel all Halloween events to be held on Oct. 31, 2020.

The city council also approved a contract with JBA Consulting Engineers, Inc. dba NV5 Energy Efficiency Services, a company that will conduct an independent third-party engineering comprehensive review of an investment-grade audit in the city’s recent agreement with Performance Services, Inc. to update the Mission water utility system.

Mission’s Purchasing Director Eduardo Belmarez presented the item to council, and stated the city received two responses to their request for bids on this contract – JBA and Ethos Holistique Holdings, LLC. Ethos retracted their proposal after review, citing a lack of experience in water meters and sewer manholes.

The agreement with PSI, approved at the end of June this year, is estimated to cost $19,702,754. PSI sent Mission city staff a project scope of work “with a guaranteed energy savings and design-build cost proposal” that would include items like water meters with “Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), LED lighting and manhole rehabilitation.”

Belmarez said the city’s committee on the project agreed to move forward with JBA, as they will provide Mission with “owner’s representative services for third party oversight of the Energy Savings Performance Contract with PSI. The contract with JBA will cost $28,000.

Council member Alberto Vela made a motion to approve the contract, and Ortega-Ochoa seconded. Council member Ruben Plata and Mayor Pro-Tem Gonzalez Garza had a few questions on the contract with JBA during discussion, including if the committee highly recommended JBA.

“Yes, they came in with a very detailed cost proposal on what their review will entail in terms of determining the savings overall,” Belmarez said. 

Gonzalez-Garza asked about the limitation of liability, and noted there was a stipulation that JBA can ask for other additional surveys to be conducted on top of what was provided in the scope of work. Belmarez said PSI would have to cover the expenses on any additional surveys or changes to the scope.

She also brought up that, in the event something went wrong, as it stood the contract would be subject to the state laws of Connecticut, since that is where JBA is based. A change was made to specify if it does come to that, it would be subject to the laws of Hidalgo County, Texas.

Chris Halpin, the Vice President of NV5 Energy Efficiency Services (currently also contracted with the cities of Boston and Phoenix as well as several air force bases and school districts), was present for the council meeting via Zoom to answer any questions from the council. He stated any modifications to their standard agreement would be honored, as they work for Mission.

“We do oversight on these types of projects all over the country,” Halpin said. “We act as your owner’s representative to make sure that the energy services company – in this case, PSI – is treating the city fairly as far as the scope of work, the types of technologies they’re going to install and the price and manner in which everything is going to be designed, installed, commissioned and accepted. We’re basically your quality-assurance agent throughout the whole process.”

Plata asked that any questions from JBA be directed to the council – Belmarez confirmed this, and said JBA will be working for Mission, updating with analysis and studies regularly, and contacting Mission directly on all matters. No more discussion was had, and the council unanimously approved the contract with JBA.

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