The Leachville City Council worked through a lengthy session when they met July 12 in regular session at city hall.
Mayor Ralph Wells acknowledged and thanked Jo Ann Cardin for her persistence in getting rid of old tires in the community.
"Joann has led a campaign to getting rid of over 500 old tires, and around 300 last year," said Wells. "Our city shop guys helped on this project also. This is no small endeavor, and we appreciate it."
Guest Debbie Moore addressed the council concerning the spraying of Malathion by the Bollweevil Eradication Program.
"I want to express my concern about ULV Malathion, which is being sprayed for boll weevils in Northeast Arkansas," Moore said. "My mother (Myrtle Lylery) was sprayed in September 2003 and began having trouble breathing, and my brother (L.W. Lylery) and I decided to find out about the chemical with which she was sprayed. We have been very concerned.
"Malathion is an organophosphate insecticide, one of a class of pesticides that is highly toxic to vertebrates and is chemically related to nerve gases first used during World War I. Not only is the ULV Malathion being sprayed improperly, but it is being stored improperly as well. The chemical is supposed to be stored at temperatures not to exceed 77 degrees F, which it is not.
"This Malathion is highly toxic to fish also. I wonder if fishermen who take fish from our rivers and lakes have been warned about drift and runoffs.
"There is supposed to be a ULV Malathion buffer zone, with only the crop itself being sprayed. Unfortunately houses, yards, fence rows, and cars are being sprayed also. They are not supposed to be spraying anything but the fields.
"ULV Malathion could be the next DDT if they are not stopped."
Moore encouraged anyone who has been sprayed by ULV Malathion to fill out a request for investigation consent form and send it to the Arkansas State Plant Board. Forms were handed out at the meeting and people who have been sprayed, or had property sprayed, were requested to contact Debbie Moore, 31 E. Parkway S., Memphis, TN 38104 or call 901-276-8580.
Mayor Wells discussed burning of limbs at the city dump with the council.
"The ADEQ has told us not to burn limbs that have been collected," said Wells. "We were told to let the people burn the limbs in their own yards. When we have seven acres of land at the dump, it seems unreasonable for us not to use it to burn on, but we can't."
The council tabled the decision to seal and re-stripe streets in the city, due to expenses. Bids from Bay Paving and Seal Coating were given at $1,910.07 for the city park and $1,485.90 for the city cemetery.
Mayor Wells announced that plans were still being made to annex property north of town, to the site of the new Dollar General store.
"We had to tear down a fence at Adams Land Company to work on the water and sewer mains," said Wells. "They have been so cooperative on this, as they know we are tying to get utilities out there.
"We are glad to get new businesses, Chambers Heating and Air, and Pepe's," Wells said. "It is always good news to have growth in our city."
Wells related that plans are to start spraying for mosquitoes soon.
"We are looking at issuing a one cent sales tax, to go to the city," Wells said. "We have now, what could be a serious financial problem. We need to talk about it more, and might decide to bring it to the people and let them decide if we need it. I think it would be a good thing."
A city sales tax does not have to be designated for a particular need, but rather an overall need.
The council discussed concerns from the Buffalo Island EMS, based in Monette, that they are not being contacted from 911 calls.
Leachville Police Department personnel currently make the decision to call Medic I or Buffalo Island EMS, according to the gravity of the circumstances.
"Medic 1 and Buffalo Island both have great services, but if a person has chest pains and an emergency such as that, then we feel that Medic 1 needs to be called, as they have paramedics available," said Ken Womack. "We have to make a split second decision to call or not to call a paramedic. We need both these services and I would hate to see us lose either one.
"We have been told that if Medic 1 gets up to a certain number of calls they would put a station in here.
"This is not about money, yet it is about money," said Wells. "An emergency service has to make so much money to pay expenses and stay in business."
"Buffalo Island does not charge unless they transport," said policeman Steve Lancaster.
Council members inquired about increases in insurance cost, former bank overdrafts, and property complaints.
Karen Wallace gave a report from the City Beautification Committee concerning properties in Leachville that needed improvement and presented a letter for approval.
The council voted 5-0 to post the letter concerning compliance with Ordinance 2002-2, and a list of street addresses, at city hall. Alderman Rick Hamilton abstained from voting.
The letter states that properties on the list that are not cleaned or an attempt has not been made in the clean up, then a second step will be compiled. The second list will then be published, at which time owners will be contacted with a written notice to clean up the area or be fined. The first list of properties will be posted on July 20, at city hall.
"We need to be sensible and reasonable about this," said Wells.
"If it is a health hazard, we need to address it and that is what we are trying to do," said alderman Sheila Spurlock.
"We are for anyone who is trying to do something," said Wallace.
Ken Womack added addresses to the original list, as vacant houses with swimming pools that breed mosquitoes and are full of black stagnated water.
"We need to do something about these two, and the water needs to be pumped out," Womack said.
At the close of the meeting, Stan Whitlow asked the council, "How much payroll taxes do we still owe?"
"We don't know as yet," said Mayor Wells.
"The state will have quarterly reports on this," said Whitlow.
"The state said they got a letter, in 2000, saying that the city had no more employees and no more withholding fees," said Wells. "Two months ago Don Ray called them and talked for over an hour and couldn't find out anything. We need to take the check books and see what has been paid.
"Someone needs to get hold of this and see what is owned," said Whitlow.
"The problem will be with the employees who got refunds that hadn't paid money in," said city attorney Mike Bearden. "Ruth Ann (Keith) is doing a good job and she has only been here a month."
"Mayor you can go to the federal building in Jonesboro and they will talk to you about this," said Whitlow.
"Mayor, you know we owe the money," said alderman Bill Hetler. "You are not that stupid. You can deny it all you want."
"You are not that stupid either, Bill," said Wells. "Have you seen a bill from them saying we owe it. I haven't. You just don't know."
"If we don't talk about it, it will not go away," said Spurlock. "We need to address it rather than know it."
"I have been addressing it, and Don Ray hasn't found out anything either," said Wells.
"Mayor, I would want to know," said Whitlow. "There will be 941 quarterly reports if money was turned in."
"Ruth Ann needs some help on this," said Spurlock.
"If we (the city) owed taxes for four years, don't you think our state auditors would tell me?" said Wells. "Why would they not send a tax statement to us? Who would have sent such a note to them, about no employees? We don't have these answers."
"How stupid are they, that they quit sending us statements and that they believed a letter from someone saying a city of 2,000 population does not have city employees?" said Wells.
Keith stated that she had asked the state for a renewal form to start paying withholding taxes, and that they did not recognize the former city ID number as being valid.
The council related that state auditors do not do a full audit, but city ledgers for the years in question are accessible for review.
Three councilmen left the meeting while the taxes were being discussed, and before the meeting was adjourned. These included Rick Hamilton, Bill Hetler, and Estus Williams.
The next regularly scheduled meeting will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 2 at city hall.