The Monette City Council met on Monday, September 26, and received a $63 thousand dollar check from Representative Ray Kidd, reviewed the cities disaster readiness plan, and made changes to the Monette Youth Association park complex agreement.
State Representative Ray Kidd presented Monette Mayor David Fletcher with a check for $63,100 in state funding for the construction and renovation of a new city hall on East Drew Avenue at the Monette Council meeting Sept. 26.
"It is always a pleasure to present checks like this, to my constituatants in northeast Arkansas," Kidd said. "Senator Jerry Bookout and I always try to speak out and speak up for needs in our area. I know this money will be put to good use.
"The mayor is the captain of the ship, and he is one of the first to apply for funding for your city. I know you folks do not have an easy job in keeping things running, and we want to do what we can to help. We just all have to work together and pull together."
"We are thankful to have Representative Kidd and Senator Bookout working collectively to get this for us," Fletcher said. "Teamwork is what this is all about."
Fire Chief Bob Blankenship reported on Monette's participation in a recent Disaster Preparedness meeting.
"Craighead County representatives met to put together a disaster plan, following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina," Blankenship said. "Our plan is very thorough and goes from Judge Dale Haas on down to Jack Richardson, with civil defense.
"We have come to know that in Monette we are an island, completely isolated by waterways in the event of a natural disaster like tornados or earthquakes. If the bridges go down and we lose contact with emergency help, we have to be prepared to take care of ourselves until they can reach us. We would be isolated except by air.
"Several years ago Joe Cullum and Kenneth Richardson put a plan together, and we are in the process of updating it. We have the communication details worked out and have outlined shelters for evacuation and help. We have contractors on the team also. Brian Carmichael and our police department have been very valuable in formulating an emergency plan. I am very proud of the progress that has been made, as we never know when something big can happen."
Monette has 13 First Responders, 17 firemen and one rescue team. Craighead County has a fully equipped Red Cross rescue trailer, doctors and nurses on call, and even places for a temporary morgue, should an emergency ever require it.
"We have all come to know we have to be prepared," Blankenship said. "In Monette we will have to wait for help to come, and take care of ourselves until they do. It is a good feeling to have a plan for all this and trained people to make it work."
Alderman Steve Suber inquired about using water in existing wells and the need for treatment in an emergency. Blankenship agreed to check on it.
Blankenship also updated the council on construction of a new fire department building, adjacent to the fire station.
"We should have it all under roof by Nov. 1," Blankenship said. "It cost us from $35,000 to $37,000 for everything, using our Act 833 money and fire account money.
Monette Youth Association representative Billy Watson addressed the council about plans to sell advertising space on new ballpark fences. MYA officers were present for the presentation and discussion.
"We want all the signs to be the same, to be done well and tasteful," Watson said. "The signs will be available to businesses and individuals as well, with no price variation for location. We can accommodate 30 signs per field now.
"We want the sign project to be an independent venture on its own."
"We have a contract with Susan Clifford, the Municipal League and the park committee," said councilman Ernestine Harrell. "We have to take care of the park grant first before we can undertake a sports park sign project."
"As long as there a grant to pay, all proceeds come to the city," Mayor Fletcher said.
"After the grant we can do things differently, but right now we need to wait," City Recorder Vickki Carroll said. "The Sports Park Fund is for maintenance and operations. So far we only have donations."
"We understand the fund is set aside for maintenance, but when the MYA needed to replace the outfield fence we were told the money was not for that expense," Watson said.
"After the park is completed it can be used, but right now it is set aside," Harrell said.
Watson asked how the park was going to be maintained until it is built and completed.
"The fence should be maintained since it has already been improved," Alderman Carroll said.
"We can obligate funding of 20 poles, to be replaced, as that is a non-issue," said Fletcher. "We proposed to do that anyway. We were told to reserve the money."
Recorder Carroll said if the money was continued to be spent it would not be available when needed.
"If we save this to the end, then the end may not ever come," said Tom Carroll.
Harrell said the funds could not be used now as it was not set up for that.
"It is city property, and is not an issue," Fletcher said. "We can find another solution if we need 20 poles. This is a weak spot and needs to be replaced."
The original agreement between the MYA and the City of Monette calls for a payment of 10 percent of the gross income from all gate fees and concession receipts to be paid to the City Park Fund.
"We would like to see this changed, or we may be going in the hole," Watson said. "We would like to change that to 30 percent of net income, instead of 10 percent of gross income. We have to have some money to work with."
"Susan Clifford suggested 15 to 20 percent of gross," Harrell said.
"This is always subject to change," Alderman Suber said. They are putting their time and effort in it."
After a brief discussion alderman Tom Carroll moved and council voted to amend the city'sagreement to read 30 percent of net income. The motion was seconded by councilman Suber. The vote passed 4-1. Councilman Harrell voted against the proposal.
"We want it run better than it was last year," Watson said. "We are trying to make the best of this and we are all volunteers."
Fletcher said parents and the community need to be involved.
"We are only as good as the city supporters we have, and you can make us or break us," Watson said.
"Somewhere down the road, after the project is completed, we will know better what the needs are of the city and MYA," Harrell said.
"It will be a long time before the grant is done, possibly five or six years," Vickki Carroll said. "We are just getting started."
The council tabled the MYA fence sign project fundraiser until more information could be obtained.
"The MYA has no power in some instances right now," Watson said.
"It is an issue of all the money going to the grant, right now," Suber said. "These people need money to work with."
"We are going to do everything we can to help in any way possible," Fletcher said. "And still we have obligations."
Other council business included:
*A bill for $3,946.90 was received Aug. 4 from Buffalo Island Central for one half the cost of chat on the new BIC parking lot at West Gymnasium.
A copy of the April 26 city business minutes reflected that an agreement by the city to help pave the parking area between the old school barn and the new sports park road, to be used for overflow parking. The city agreed to jointly pave Area #5 with the school.
Another correspondence was distributed, where Alderman Harrell and Mayor Fletcher contacted Don Zimmerman and David Schoen, on Aug. 16, about the contribution to BIC School gym/sports area parking. Municipal League legal council David Schoen responded by saying, "In my opinion the city is not authorized to share in the cost of the school parking lot, unless it complies with one of the foregoing statutes listed in Ark. Code Ann. 14-58-501 or 14-54-1302 (which it does not).
The mayor and council tabled payment of the bill until more information could be obtained, or some other form of exchange could be agreed upon. The parking lot being worked on currently is not Area #5.
"We still want to help out, in one legal form or another," Fletcher said. "In good faith, we want to do something. This is not just for the city, but for the community as well. We need an alternative plan."
"We have to work out something," said Suber.
Alderman Tom Carroll agreed to talk with BIC Superintendent George Edd Holland concerning the matter, to see what could be done.
*The council went into executive session to discuss hiring and firing of employees. Police Chief, Brian Carmichael was asked to enter into discussion as the employees would be under his command and they wanted his reference.
After reconvening no decision was made.
The next regular council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at city hall.