Leachville City Council calls for burn ban

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Leachville City Council met for nearly four hours on June 6 working through a full agenda and called for an immediate burn ban, adopted a vicious dog ordinance amendment, and set office hours at city hall.

The council approved a recommendation by Fire Chief Richie Pace to implement an immediate burn ban for the city due to lengthy dry weather conditions.

The council voted to keep the current animal control ordinance, 1997-2, add an ordinance amendment for control of dangerous animals, and establishing penalties for non-compliance.

Leachville Mayor Ralph Wells read a letter from City Attorney Mike Bearden advising the council their vicious dog amendment was too detailed for a city the size of Leachville. He addressed concerns about city having holding pens, personnel to handle money, and a need for a more simple ordinance.

Bearden was not in attendance at the council meeting.

"He talks like he doesn't even know we have a dog pound," Wells said.

"Bearden asked me if I thought the people would be able to pay fines on the dogs picked up," City Clerk Ruth Ann Keith said. "I told him yes, and we were concerned about the safety of the children. I related that there were free running pit bulls, which is very dangerous."

"If people can pay large prices for these pit bulls, then they can afford to pay the fine," Leachville Police Chief Ken Womack said. "We are receiving more complaints than we have ever received. The Animal Control office and the police can deem them vicious. I don't see a problem at all in the ordinance the council has put together.

"Some of these dogs are trained to be aggressive," Councilman Mark Wheeler said.

"If we adopt the ordinance, will it be enforced,"Alderman Bill Hetler asked

Chief Womack said it would be enforced.

"Residents are required to buy new city dog licenses every year and many do not," Keith said.

Council members also discussed a noise and vibrations ordinance. No action was taken on the proposed ordinance. The council requested that Bearden come to the July meeting, to answer questions about changing or establishing ordinances.

The council declined request by the American Cancer Society Relay For Life Committee to make a monetary donation, but agreed to provide services in kind as in years past.

"We have been asked to make a donation to Relay For Life again this year," Wells said. "We gave $1,000 last year, plus put a lot into getting the park ready. We participated with labor and services. I don't know what they have done for Leachville."

"I want to step down as the city clerk now, and speak for Relay For Life," Keith said. "They are not allowed to reveal many of the things they have done due to confidentiality, but they have paid house payments for people, purchased medicine, provided transportation to doctors, wigs for patients, not to mention the money given to research. This work is done by volunteers.

"We donate to the Buffalo Island Ambulance Service, and other things," Keith said.

"We are strapped for funds right now," Alderman Anna Beth Thomas said. "Even though it is a worthy cause."

Councilman Bill Hetler moved for the city to donate $500, but his motion died for lack of a second.

"I see a lot of waste," Wells said. "They put a sign in my yard, and I don't need that. Money should be strictly for cancer. I haven't seen anything on it. Some people don't get any help."

The council attempted to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters, but after a discussion as to reason for the request, decided instead to discuss the matter in open session.

"We are not satisfied with the hours that the clerk's office is open," Councilman Bill Hetler said.

"If you have had a problem with me, why didn't you come by and just talk to me," Keith said.

"We don't have any authority as one person, and needed to do this as a council," Hetler said. "The hours are the only complaint that I have, as you (Keith) are doing an excellent job."

"Am I not supposed to go to the bank or to the post office, as long as it is on city business?" Keith asked.

Hetler gave a copy of a hand posted calendar reflecting the times Keith came into work, left work and was out of the office. The unsolicited calendar report had been kept by water department Clerk Rebecca Clowers and was given to Alderman Bob Crites.

"Someone kept a time table on me," Keith said. "I expect all the other employees to keep their hours also. My lunch hour varies, just as business needs vary."

"We are going to make sure that the others do the same," Alderman Tommy Stone said. "We shouldn't single her (Keith) out, but do the same with the others."

"There needs to be a level playing ground here," Alderman Mark Wheeler said. "This should be observed by all employees."

"I resent the fact that all the council members know about this situation but me," Thomas said.

"This is a business and the office has to be open," Wheeler said. "This is not an accusation of her (Keith) job not being done, only that someone needs to be in the office."

Keith fills three positions, bookkeeper, treasurer and clerk.

"If anybody had any problems with the office not being open, I sure wish they would have told me," Keith said. "Does anyone have any problems with my work, or the reports, or anything else?"

The council unanimously said, "No." They praised Keith for the excellent job she was doing, with their only request dealing with set hours.

The clerk's office hours were set for 9-4:30 daily, with a notice posted on the door should Keith need to be out of the office.

Other business included:

*Police monthly report listing police action for the month of May. The report showed 205 contacts made, 104 citations, nine felony arrests, with two court dates.

*Authorising Mayor Wells to sign the agreement with Ritter Communications to replace Seabridge area cable T.V. coverage supplier.

*Setting city clean up for July 22-23. Containers will be set on old Leachville school property, using standard established fees for dumping.

*Tabling decision to renew 2006-07 contract to maintain the AR Revenue Office, located at city hall, until contract can be read and examined.

*Declining decision to implement a mosquito control program due to lack of funds.

*Approval of supplies for First Response Team in the amount of $804.49. It will be taken out of the General Fund.

*Agreement to add one policeman to the list of users of the cities Sam's Club card.

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