Manila Council gets first look at new Christmas decorations

Thursday, June 26, 2003
Members of the Manila Depot Committee Lisa Hitchcock (left) and Linda Donovan display one of the Christmas decorations the organization has purchased for the city. The banner will be on display at the Manila City Hall. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Councilwoman Linda Donovan and Lisa Hitchcock, both members of the Manila Depot Committee, gave the Manila city officials an update on the group's city Christmas decoration project.

"The Depot Committee decided to buy Christmas decorations. The city has been without decorations for the last two years and the people in town are concerned," Hitchcock said.

Hitchcock explained that the depot committee is starting with decorations for the main street area and hope to expand to other parts.

"We will be able to use the brackets we used for the centennial banners which will save some money, but it is still an expensive project. It took a chunk of money," Hitchcock said. "We hope to leave a sample of the decorations here at city hall and hopefully businesses and individuals will donate money to help."

The Depot Committee has purchased 20 banners, one silhouette snowflake that is 60 feet long and will stretch across Main Street by connecting to highline poles. They have purchased 18 pole units of clear lights (6 snowflakes, 6 doves and 6 angels). The Herman Davis Monument will be decorated with a 10-foot-flag mounted on a 10 foot pole. Twelve star silhouette lights will frame the flag.

"We also purchased a fire works display that will be added to the monument decorations and used around the fourth of July each year. We just wanted the city to know we have taken on this project. Our building will be used to store the decorations and they should stay in good shape for years to come," Hitchcock said.

She again emphasized their plans to expand the decorations each year. She said if anyone would like more information or to donate they can contact Hitchcock, Janella Caraway, Joann Bennett or Linda Donovan.

Mayor Veach expressed his appreciation for the Depot committee and the work they do for the city.

Mayor Veach informed the council that North Delta Cotton, as of Thursday, owns the deed to the Federal Mogul property.

"They are asking us to pass a resolution for Advantage Arkansas. Once the city council approves the resolution, North Delta can start participating in the Advantage Arkansas sales and use tax refunds. I talked to the president, John Robertson, and assured him we would consider the resolution," Veach said. "North Delta Cotton plans to expand by 1,000 square feet and start cleaning up the property."

The council voted unanimously for the tax-back resolution for North Delta Cotton.

A second resolution was passed to allow Veach and city clerk Susie Parker to sign all legal documents concerning the water improvement project and serve as representatives for the project. The council also approved the funding through a $300,000 loan for water system improvements including repair and sandblasting of the water tower, pressure filters and replace of the Big Lake water line.

Mayor Veach introduced Richard Hughes IV.

"He has taken on the responsibility of doing our monthly budget comparison. I look forward to working with him until we can do it on our own," Veach said.

The Mayor and Council reviewed the budget.

"I've been involved with city government for a long time. My main goal is for you to look at the budget and see what is going on," Veach said.

The council approved to amend the budget adding the court automation fund.

Veach explained that the city was written up in 2001 by auditors for not having a court fund to cover the cost of the city court.

The council approved the addition of the fund that will have a total revenue of $1,400 and expenditures of $1,000.

Mayor Veach discussed the mosquito control and the council approved the purchase of the chemical Mosquito Barrier. They also approved the purchase of a machine to distribute the chemical if it works in eliminating the mosquito problem.

"We are getting in some new territory here. Everything I have heard about the spray is good. We are going to wade through it and see how it works. If we think this stuff is going to work, I would like to go ahead and buy the machine. We need to get started and see how it works," Veach said. "Mayor Wells of Leachville said they use it at their park and it works. We have to try something for the people."

Veach said they would start with the park using our spray machine on a tractor in the next week or so and see how it works.

"It all depends on the people and what they think about it. I can't see us spraying without getting some on vehicles but they say, it is like water," Veach said.

The council heard a request from J&E Enterprise owner Jimmy and Ellen White to purchase the property of their business since they have met all of their obligations to the city.

Veach explained that the city purchased the building in 1990 from Manila Industries and went into an agreement with the Whites that once the mortgage was paid off, they would have the option to purchase the building for $1,000. The city received everything they were entitled to.

The council voted 6-0 to give J&E Enterprise the option to buy.

The council approved 5-1 the purchase through a state contract for a Dodge Durango that is now available. The cost is $19,339. Councilman Larry "Whiz" Davis cast the no vote.

"I don't want to sound anti police department but I just can't vote to buy a police car," Davis said.

Mayor Veach informed the council that he had spoken to members of the fire department about the increase in the city health insurance. Health insurance will go up $20 per person July 1.Veach said the firefighters want to forgo their Christmas bonuses if the city will pay the $20 increase for the remainder of the year. The council agreed to pay the increase and look at the situation at the first of the year.

Police Chief Hill informed the council that Officer Steve Lancaster had announced his plans to leave the Manila Police Department effective July 1.

The council agreed to advertise for a certified officer.

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