The Monette city council met on May 23 and hired a new water department clerk, reviewed LOPFI and old fire department retirement conversion plans, and approved plans for construction of new fire department facility.
The city received 53 applications last month for the position of water department clerk. Mayor David Fletcher instructed the councilmen to review the applications and rate them as to their personal choices for the position.
"You (Fletcher) did not do what we agreed to do last month," Councilman Tom Carroll said.
"Once I took a look at everyone's review and results, and based on information we had, I took it upon myself to follow through (and hire clerk)," said Fletcher.
"So you and Ernestine (Harrell) picked the best one," said Carroll. "So you picked your housekeeper without us doing the interviewing."
"The issue is not the housekeeper, but rather Byron's (Sparkman) wife," said Fletcher.
Alderman Sparkman's wife, Janie, had also applied for the clerk's position.
"I interviewed the top two (from councilmen ratings) before making my choice," Fletcher said. "You (Carroll) enjoy trying to humiliate me."
"I'm not trying to humiliate you but am trying to get you to do what you said you would do," Carroll said.
Councilman Steve Suber moved for the council to go into executive session to discuss hiring of a water clerk. After a lengthy closed session, Carroll moved to hire Jennifer Mann, to fill the position of water clerk, with a six month orientation period. The council voted unanimously to hire Mann, and set her salary at $9 per hour, with a review in six months for a pay increase to $10.
The council discussed conversion of the LOPFI and old fire department retirement programs.
"We have two firemen still under the old fire department retirement plan, and all others have been converted to the LOPFI plan," Fletcher said. "There is a lot of paper work involved in doing the transfers necessary for the old plan.
"For membership of the local pension fund, we will need to do a resolution and do an actuary of their funds," he said. "We will need an ordinance to transfer responsibility onto LOPFI and then we would be out of that responsibility."
Cost for the conversion was reported at $60 per active participant, or $1,440 total.
The council agreed to proceed with plans for a conversion.
Fire Chief Bob Blankenship reviewed plans to tear down the old block building, next to the fire house, and build a new structure.
"We will be using our Act 833 money," said Blankenship. "These funds are a blessing to small communities. We have around $30,000 put back now."
Three bids for the construction were received, which included: Miles and Robb Construction, of Paragould; Smith Steele, of Dumas; and Wood Construction, of Monette.
"We chose Miles and Robb's bid of $29,810, to build the 30x50 foot steel construction building," said Blankenship. "The new building will include 14 foot side walls, two doors that will raise up and down, one walkthrough door, and six inch seismic steel construction.
"This is what we want to do," he said. "There will be no expense to the city."
The council approved plans made by the fire department, as presented.
Councilman Sparkman reviewed plans to adapt the old Mid South Bank building, on main street, into a new city hall.
"We are looking at and talking about adding to the west side of the building," said Sparkman. "We would be able to have a drive through on the east side."
Sparkman reviewed a drawing of the renovation, with plans still being formulated.
Councilman Harrell announced plans by the City Beautification Committee to begin the summer "Yard of the Month" selections for June, July and August.
"We are also surveying needs for the city park and hope to get a new grant," said Harrell.
"We still hold a public meeting on June 16, at noon, at the service center to discuss needs," she said. "We plan to advertise the meeting by putting out flyers and advertise in the paper."
The council pledged $300 to be donated to the upcoming Relay for Life.
The monthly Monette Youth Association report showed a balance of $5,221.58. David Clark serves as MYA president.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be at city hall at 7 p.m. June 27.