Monette works toward ACE recertification

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

The Monette City Council reviewed changes in cable service providers, ACE program rectification, and fire department improvements at the council meeting July 25.

Harold Kinnel, manager of Ritter Communications Holdings, addressed the council about Ritter's plans to acquire Cebridge Communications, the city's cable television service provider.

"We plan to evaluate the system in order to locate problem areas," Kinnel said. "However, we do not plan to make any immediate changes.

"We are familiar with the area. We will have a local office at Marked Tree, where customers can come in and talk to us face to face. We are in this for the long haul and want to provide the best service possible."

Kima Stewart, BIC West Elementary principal, explained the Leadership Buffalo Island group and mission.

"We hope to get ACE recertification, hopefully in six weeks," Stewart said. "All our work is done by volunteers and it is very time consuming. We want to spend our time with progressive ventures, instead of worrying about fund raisers. We are asking each town served by LBI to donate $250 to be used as working money so we don't have to go into fund raising."

"They have been working on the recertification for the last six meetings," Alderman Steve Suber said. "They want our communities to go forward, make our inventory available to businesses, and be ready to go."

Stewart and Barbara Suber are currently leading the group in the application for ACE recertification. A formal ACE ceremony will be held when the certificate has been received.

The council voted to donate $250 to support LBI to replenish funds.

Mayor David Fletcher gave an update on repair and replacement of 11 city fire hydrants. Two are leaking and plans are to replace both of them.

Fire Chief Bob Blankenship reported the old fire department building has been torn down and construction of the new facility is due to begin in September.

Blankenship reported receipt of a $6,200 check from CHIPS Program, $36,000 in Act 833 account, and $27,000 in the Fire Department account.

"The damaged Haz-Mat truck, a gift from the City of Jonesboro, is estimated to be worth $250,000," Blankenship said. "It is currently being stored in an empty building at the Monette Co-Op. We are looking for bids for total restoration, with the preliminary estimate of $50,000. We need to work out something to get this fixed. It can be used for a lot of things."

Estimates and further study of fire truck repairs is ongoing.

After a brief discussion the council passed Ordinance 2005-1 authorizing agreement between the City of Monette and LOPFI on Fire Retirement Fund. An emergency was declared and rules suspended for all three readings to be completed.

"Our board decided to let the state take care of the books," Blankenship said. "I think this is going to work much better."

Monette Fire Department board of directors consists of Blankenship, David Clark, Kevin Wimberley, Wade Gathright, and Mark Hughes, retired.

Monette Chief of Police Brian Carmichael gave an overview of plans for National Night Out, scheduled for Aug. 2, from 6-9, at the city park.

"We are delighted with the outpouring of support and sponsors wanting to get involved," Carmichael said. "Everything is secure, except volunteers to be in charge of the games."

Sixty flash lights have been ordered for a walk around the park walking trail, at 8:30 p.m., as a show of police support. Everyone is encouraged to attend the free city-wide celebration.

Mayor Fletcher gave an update on progress being made by the Arkansas Highway Department on the widening and paving of Highway 18 from Jonesboro to Blytheville.

"They will be having public meetings in the near future to give people a chance to have input and discuss possible routes," Fletcher said. "They look at many things in deciding where to put a highway, such as environmental, economic and historical issues.

"According to their project guideline, we should know a lot by March 6," He said. "If I hear anything, I'm going to let you know."

In council comments, alderman Ernestine Harrell gave an update on current and future park grants and work being done at the city ball park complex.

The home of Aaron and Renee Uthoff was chosen as the July Yard of the Month. A ribbon cutting service is planned in August for the new law office of Johnny Dunigan.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 7 p.m. Aug. 22 at city hall.

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