A Longview nonprofit agency made an impassioned plea for donations during the Longview City Council meeting Thursday.

Family Promise of Longview, which houses desperate families in emergency situations, is nearly $30,000 below yearly donated revenue, board Chairman Nick Setzer told the City Council at its regular meeting. The agency formerly known as Longview Interfaith Hospitality Network is in “urgent need of financial assistance,” he said.

“As a result, we’ve had to use of some of our reserves or most of our reserves to the point that we are in trouble of having to close our doors and find new places for those four families that we currently have with the program, that are full with children during the hot summer,” he said.

Setzer wasn’t on the council’s agenda Thursday but asked to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Over the past 15 years, the agency has helped at least 667 people, including 413 children in 193 families, find shelter by spending a week at a time at a local rotation of churches, Setzer said.

“As you can imagine, it is extremely difficult to fully serve those families without cash,” he said, adding that his agency is especially helpful for single fathers who often can find no local shelters or missions for their families.

“Family Promise has played a major role in this community of keeping children who are facing homelessness off the streets and keeping their families together,” the co-pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church said. “We’re one of the few places that a family can go and stay together during that time of trial.”

Ann Jackson, who had asked to speak on another topic, instead extolled Family Promise as she told council members how the organization had helped a family with an 18-year-old child who was in danger of being split from her family members.

“Literally, because of Family Promise, that 18-year-old got to stay with her family,” Jackson said. “Not everyone can do Hiway 80 Rescue Mission. Family Promise fills a gap that sometimes we don’t always fill in Longview.”

Also during public comment, a Lakeport man asked the city to make improvements to Hinsley Park.

Alfred Hall, who both plays in the city of Longview’s adult softball league and officiates games, told council members that on some lighting poles, half of the bulbs aren’t functioning. He fears that someone will be injured because they can’t see a falling ball, he said.

Hinsley Park has been the subject of much conversation since 2015 when voters gave the council consent to remove the park designation, provided that a private developer came in to buy the park and turn it into a retail development. That plan comes with the condition that developers would build a replacement park with at least the same number of amenities as Hinsley Park.

“It’s 2019,” Hall said, “and we’re still in the same situation. We want the lights up.”

Mayor Andy Mack directed Parks and Recreation Director Scott Caron to meet with Hall about his concerns.

In its official business, council members created volunteer groups suggested by Mack.

The Longview Walk of Stars Task Force will be charged with developing a way to honor local standouts downtown.

“It’s a collaboration of people who had done something in our community who deserve recognition,” Mack said.

The Longview 2020 Complete Count Committee Task Force will encourage full participation by Longview residents in the 2020 census.

Council members will submit nominations of residents to serve on either committee. The city’s Council Appointments Committee, made up of District 2 Councilwoman Nona Snoddy and District 5 Councilman David Wright, will select nominated residents for each task force, which will then be finally approved by the full council, Mack said.

The council also approved a change order with Ironhorse Unlimited Inc. of Malakoff, which is building the Longview Arboretum and Nature Center.

The change order, which brings the full contract price to more than $2.5 million, adds trail lighting, more landscaping, stream improvements, fencing and a restroom, with remaining funds to be used for parking, entry kiosks and a pavilion.

Caron said a final decision has yet to be made about whether to install a prefabricated concrete restroom or a glass restroom similar to one in downtown Sulphur Springs, which has a mirrored exterior.

“We’ll have a restroom of some type. I guess that’s the main thing,” he said.

Also, the City Council annexed 7.307 acres in Harrison County on the north side of East Loop 281 north of Page Road. The property owners are paying for water and wastewater infrastructure enhancements to the area.

Four Corners Development of Texas LLC, Longview Hickory Trails LP and local homebuilders Scott and Renee Hamilton want to build a independent senior multifamily apartment building in the annexed site. Those plans were aided when council members also rezoned 5.991 acres of the annexed area from agriculture to multifamily zoning Thursday.

Also under its zoning agenda, the council:

  • Rezoned 2.43 acres at 3903 Garland Road from agriculture to heavy commercial to allow oilfield services company B&D Flow Back to expand;
  • Amended a planned development site plan to allow Dr. Ryan Guillory to construct a one-story medical office building at the Walnut Hill Professional Center at Walnut Hill Drive and Fourth Street.

Under its consent agenda, the council:

  • Renewed the city’s agreement with Keep Longview Beautiful to educate and engage the community to take responsibility for improving their environment through litter prevention, beautification and waste reduction;
  • Appointed District 6 Councilman Steve Pirtle as mayor pro tem;
  • Awarded a $520,984.40 contract to low-bidder Rayford’s Truck and Tractor of Marshall to construct and rehab the south parking lot at the Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.

For information on Family Promise, go to familypromiseoflongview.com .

Jimmy Daniell Isaac covers the city of Longview and Gregg County. Follow him on Twitter: @jimmyisaaclives.