At its meeting on Tuesday, March 14, the Willow Park City Council announced the appointment of Daniel Franklin as interim police chief, effective March 24.
Franklin, who has been the assistant police chief in Willow Park since August of 2018, is taking over for Carrie Ellis (formerly West), who is retiring. West recently married Belton Police Chief Gee Ellis and is leaving the area.
Ellis, the first female police chief in Parker County history, came to Willow Park six years ago.
"Me and her worked really well together, her thinking and mine are pretty much in line," Franklin said. "I wouldn't see much need to change the department.
"I'm excited to have an opportunity to continue the path Chief Ellis and I have been working on. I've worked with a lot of police chiefs and she's the best I've ever worked with."
Ellis had similar praise for Franklin, who previously worked in the Jacksonville Police Department for 20 years, including several years as assistant chief and captain.
"He has my resounding support and I've already offered a letter to the city manager for him," Ellis said. "He's completely capable and knowledgeable, an amazing guy, a great family man."
Franklin and his wife Karla live in Weatherford. They have four children, 19-year-old daughter Kaitlyn, 8- and 7-year-old sons Daniel Jr. and Jackson, and 5-year-old daughter Amelia.
"I have the utmost confidence in Assistant Chief of Police Franklin to step in," City Manager Bryan Grimes said, noting to him, "You have some big shoes to fill."
A retirement party is scheduled for Ellis on Thursday, March 23 from 4-6 p.m. at Willow Park City Hall, 120 El Chico Tr. The public is invited.
After discussing the matters in closed session, the council returned to open session and approved the sale of the Public Safety Building, which includes the city's fire station, to Parker County Emergency Services District 1, pending ESD1 approval.
This means the city's police department will need a new location, which was discussed at the Feb. 28 meeting. It will likely be at the location of the old city hall, 516 Ranch House Rd., but city officials have said if that is to be the site of a new police station, old city hall will be torn down and a new building constructed in its place.
Also at the Feb. 28 meeting, council voted to name a committee led by Mayor Doyle Moss to assist and consult in the designing, building, and constructing of a police station.
Grimes said once the ESD purchase becomes official, he anticipates having about two years for the police department to move into a new facility.
The council also approved the transfer of employment for nine of the city's 11 full-time firefighters to ESD1, still serving the city, of course. Fire Chief John Schneider will remain in city employment, along with being the fire marshal. Kevin Lockwood, the other firefighter remaining with the city, is assistant fire marshal.
The move will include benefits for the firefighters.
The council approved a request for a zoning change in connection with the proposed new restaurant Standard Service, planned for the south side of Interstate 20 near Platinum Collision and Forney Fence.
The change is from commercial and I-20 overlay district to planned development for restaurants and other uses. The land is almost six acres.
Customer Service Executive Michael Dimas of Oncor gave a presentation regarding the response update to the wind storm that hit the area on March 2.
Dimas reported that in all of Oncor's service area, around 290,000 homes were without power, including more than 700 in Willow Park - but they all were back on within 48 hours. One area of Willow Park had three power line poles break with winds up to 80 mph, he said.
"Mother Nature's rough. We try to restore it as quickly as we can," Dimas said.
Grimes recommended the city look into putting folks in place to help, for example spotting weakened poles.
Dimas said citizens can also visit the My Oncor Alerts link at https://www.oncor.com/, which helps keeps them up to date on times of power restoration.
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