The Caraway City Council met in regular session on Thursday, Jan. 15, and worked through a busy agenda.
Rick Stevens was appointed last month, to serve out the one year unexpired term of Lessie Stubblefield, city clerk/treasurer, following her resignation in December.
The council approved the revised 2003 budget and reviewed the 2004 proposed budget.
Fireman Barry Riley asked if the fire department raises would be included in the budget.
"They will be paid in 2004, for the fires attended during the year," Caraway Mayor Joe South said.
The council discussed street repair.
"We need repairs done on our streets but will have to take them as they come up, even if we have to borrow the money to get it done," South said. "Cold patch asphalt repair will be used for this year, with the city doing the work. It costs us about $40,000 a mile to have it done by someone else. We plan to dig out the spot, pack the cold patch down in it, and, hopefully, it will hold better."
The use of slag was also recommended for filling the pot holes.
After brief discussions, the council unanimously passed the 2004 proposed budget as presented.
Mayor South reported that the street light by Dalton Taylor's home had been moved, as requested.
Alderman Larry Brooks inquired about the progress on the sewer project.
"The checks are in to secure easements on the sewer project," South said. "We will soon be ready to let bids on the project. The city obtained an extension on the project."
Alderman Johnny Boatman inquired about the progress on sale of land behind Bo James' house.
"It will cost $100 for the appraisal," South said. "The quit claim deed can be obtained through the city attorney for $50. The cost of the land is estimated at 3.7 cents per square foot. That should be ready to complete soon."
Reports on the progress of the city arena were given.
"We had 18 volunteer workers at the arena, plus the use of Miller Brothers equipment, workers from the Craighead County road crew, and Mississippi County trustees," South said. "They have done a great job. Estimating labor and equipment used, the cost of the arena is now estimated at $49,000. The labor donated was estimated at $18,007.84. It is looking good."
South said he hoped work would be finished by July 4.
Mayor South read a letter from Senator Blanch Lincoln nominating Matthew Sieling to the military academy. Matthew is the son of Tammy Roberson of Caraway.
Mayor South read a letter of resignation from Scott Browning, who had formerly served as part-time #2 patrolman.
Williams inquired about the progress of the city's safe room.
"Plans for the safe room had to be resubmitted with minor interior corrections," South said. "Plans are to put it at the west end of the city hall building, with entrances on the south and east sides. It will be 800 square feet. Seven trees are to be removed from the grounds to make room for it."
Several councilmen voiced concerns about the disruption of the grounds, storage of supplies, and intrusion into the Fourth of July celebration, if not completed. The council voted to re-evaluate the site, if relocation will not jeopardize the grant funding.
"We will have to show probable cause for a new site," South said.
Audience discussion brought up the fact that all the power lines and utilities enter the building from the current site direction, which might possibly give them cause to relocate. Plans are to meet and discuss new sites.
"A suggestion has been made that we host a rodeo in the park, during the Fourth of July, since the arena is near completion, and this will be the last year for an open rodeo," Alderman Marvin Browning said. "I know the park commission has the authority in parks and recreation area, but perhaps something can be worked out to include a rodeo, one last time. The Lion's Club is willing to help on this."
"Would that be a rodeo on Thursday or Friday night, with the entertainment on Saturday night?" said Kenny Weathers, Park Committee chairman. "We wouldn't want to have the rodeo and the concert on the same night. The park is hard to put back. We have already talked about this before. I don't think my committee will be for it."
"The Lion's Club doesn't want any money out of it, we just want to help," Browning said. "Kenny, I thought you would be all for this, as the money would all go to the park commission. The rodeo is a money-maker for sure, if it could be held on Saturday night."
Weathers continued to voice his opposition to the rodeo on Saturday night.
"If you wanted the rodeo back, why didn't you do it last year?" Weathers asked.
"Because you raised such a stink," Mayor South replied.
"We can pack the arena with a rodeo," Browning said.
"It would be beneficial if both events were in the same area," South said.
"I hope we could be flexible for one year," Alderman Larry Brooks said.
"We want to do what is best for the city," Mayor South said. "Your concert is not doing anything for the city."
Weathers agreed to meet with his committee, and inform the mayor and council so they could be in attendance.
Mayor South asked Weathers for a financial report from the park commission, per municipal league guidelines. Weathers agreed to present one at the next meeting.
"Why have you all of a sudden asked for this?" Weathers asked. "You see me every day and you have never asked me for this before this week. Just for the record, there was $18,000 appropriated for the arena, when there are holes in the roads around town that need getting done."
"If the municipal league says we need to do this, then we need to," Larry Brooks said.
Mayor South read a letter from Delta Disposal requesting a 1.6 increase and a request to add new trash carts, for an additional $1.13 per month.
After a brief discussion the council voted for the 1.6 percent increase, but decided to hold off on supplying the carts.
Joyce Berry requested that old flowers, on the ground by graves in the city cemetery, be removed and that the holes be filled before the mowing season begins.
"We have stopped the spraying of Roundup at the cemetery and are looking to get some work done on it," South said. "Hopefully, we can get some help from the parolees again this year."
Boatman asked for a report on the Community of Christ Church fence survey.
"We have not received a final report on that yet," South said. "The county surveyor came out and met with us. There is only three and a half feet of space for an alley, which is not enough to satisfy the needs of the individuals concerned."
"Mayor, you left before the meeting was over," Kenny Qualls said. "The final conclusion was that the church survey was correct, and that the other party would be responsible for paying the cost to determine it.
"The city attorney (Charles Frierson) stated that if the undeveloped alley was not maintained or developed, then it is not an alley way. It has never been used as an alley. He also said that the city should relinquish or abolish any claims to the alley."
"I haven't received anything on the official conclusion of the report as yet," South said.
No action was taken by the council concerning the right-of-way until official notice can be obtained.
Mayor South reported that police department fines were up in 2003, totalling $33,566.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Feb. 12 at city hall.