Leachville Council hears concerns about Malathion

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Mayor Ralph Wells introduced R.W. Lyerly of Ash Flat, who addressed the Leachville City Council at the regular council meeting Aug. 2. Lyerly expressed concerns on ULV Malathion, which is being sprayed for boll weevils in Northeast Arkansas.

"My concerns are the effects that Malathion has on people, and other living things, when they are being sprayed by it," Lyerly said. "The chemicals are not being stored properly, they are toxic to fish and shellfish, and have been proven to weaken the immune system.

"They are not supposed to spray outside the fields, but often spray over ditches, roadways, waterways, and across people's yards. If anyone has questions concerning the Malathion issue, please call me at 870-994-2936. I will help in any way possible, as I am very concerned about this issue."

Mayor Wells read a recommendation from Fire Chief Jessie Johnson that Chris Hill be added to the city's list of volunteer firemen. The council approved the recommendation 3-0, with three aldermen abstaining. Aldermen Karen Wallace, Sheila Spurlock and Bill Hetler abstained from voting because they did not know Chris Hill.

"I voted for Hill because Jessie recommended him, and I don't think he would have done that if Hill was not a good choice," Alderman Monte Grimes said.

Mayor Wells announced the new Dollar General store, located north of town, was to open for business next month.

"We have another new business opening soon," Wells said. "Brian Kirby has purchased a building on the corner of Rodman and Main Streets, from LIDC, and he and his father (Barry Kirby) will have their real estate and appraising office there. This will also be the home office for searchmyhometown.com, a webpage designed to search for products and services on line.

"I have also been approached about putting a gun shop in town. I always like to hear about people wanting to put businesses here in town."

Wells reported that the city clean up is coming along well.

"People are taking notice about cleaning up their property," Alderman Wallace said. "We haven't mentioned a lot of places, but people are going out and cleaning up."

The council listed items for sale from the community center and are still taking offers to purchase.

Alderman Grimes requested the city consider putting in a holding tank and grinder near the homes of Grimes and Cleve McCaughey, to hold sewage until it can be moved to main sewer. The current flow is not sufficient to process the sewage.

"This is the same type operation that is out by Johnny Edwards and seems to be working very well," Grimes said.

The council voted 5-0 to fix sewers, with Grimes abstaining from voting.

The council discussed ordering a new mower deck for the lawn mower used to mow the city cemetery at a cost of $1,000 and the feasibility of purchasing a used mower for the city park area. The used lawn mower was estimated to cost $9,000.

The council inquired about having the funds to purchase a mower.

"We have three certificates of deposit up for renewal now," City Clerk Ruth Ann Keith said. "We could take $5,000 out of the $10,000 CD to buy the mower and buy another $5,000 CD, if necessary."

"Sometimes we have to mow these areas twice a week, and we can't do it all in one week with one lawn mower," Alderman Estus Williams said.

"We could hire someone to mow them, if you don't want to buy the mower," Wells said.

The council voted 4-1 to purchase the new deck and used lawn mower. Alderman Spurlock abstained from voting and Rick Hamilton voted against the purchase.

Alderman Wallace discussed a problem with getting the payroll out each week, where there was no week holdback.

"Having a week holdback would give time to process the checks," Wallace said. "There are times that people are lined up waiting for their checks on Thursday. They are getting paid for Friday's work, until 4:30 before they actually work it. With a week's holdback, the employees would get it if they quit."

"Everyone has been patient with me, but it would help if I had definite guidelines to go by," Keith said.

The council discussed comp time being retained by employees, some totaling 50 hours or more. Accumulated comp time is not designed to carry over to another year or be paid for.

"We don't get comp time, or overtime," Police Chief Ken Womack said. "We don't even get three weeks vacation each year."

"I'm open for suggestions on this, but we need to do something," Wallace said.

No action was taken by the council on the recommendation.

"Should our department heads attend the council meetings?" Alderman Spurlock asked. "They could have answered some of these questions, about comp time and such, and what they think about a week's holdback."

"They don't come," said Mayor Wells.

"Should we be reading our council meeting minutes and approving them?" asked Spurlock.

"I have had councilmen tell me it took too long and not to do it,"Wells said.

The council voted 6-0 to have the minutes read and approved, in the future.

"You spoke about the LIDC selling the building to Kirby, but they never report to us before selling a business," Alderman Hamilton said.

"Under the reuse plan they are to report to us," Alderman Hetler said.

Hetler located his personal copy of the reuse plan details, revised May 1993, and Keith Evans made copies for the other council members.

"I don't know where they are, because out of 19 months we have only received one report," Spurlock said.

Mayor Wells said that all the LIDC money belongs to the city.

"How much money do they have?" asked Spurlock.

"We don't know," said Wells.

"If we are responsible for the funds, then we need to know," Spurlock said.

"LIDC owns nothing themselves, it is all city money," Hetler said.

"I'd like to see you all out there trying to build a city," Wells said.

"I'd like to build a town, but if I am going to be responsible then I want to know about what we have. Unsecured loans are not good loans. We need to know this stuff."

"They have not reported this year," Hamilton said.

The council praised bookkeeper Keith and asked if there was anything they could do to help her.

"I am having a problem with the computer system and have lost some of the firemen records," Keith said. "We need to liquidate two old accounts, the Harvest Festival Fund and the Theater Fund, and put those in the General Fund. We pay all the bills out of the General Fund anyway."

"We can run that idea by our attorney," Wells said.

The council voted 6-0 for Keith to get in touch with Mike Bearden, city attorney, and see if the accounts can be discontinued.

Keith asked for permission to attend a meeting in Fayetteville concerning programming and certification, at an estimated cost of $350 for the course and $79 per night lodging.

"If the city will pay part of the cost, I will pay the rest," Keith said. "This will be a great advantage to the city."

The council voted to pay for conference fees and lodging, and Keith will pay for her mileage and meal cost.

Alderman Hetler thanked Keith for the good reports given to the council about city finances.

"This is the first general fund financial report that I have been given in 3 1/2 years," Hetler said.

The council discussed raises and number of employees but made no decisions.

"We have 15 employees who are paid each week," Keith said. "When I have talked to people about our computer program for the city, they always ask me how many employes we have for our population. They always seem surprised that we have that many employees for our population."

Keith also reported that $2,630 in overdraft charges will be refunded to the city by Heritage Bank.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at city hall.

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