Manila Council hears citizens' concerns
Members of the Manila City Council reviewed the budget, discussed the purchase of a garbage truck, a lawn tractor for the airport, street paving, annexation, storm sirens, a new fire station, and heard concerns from citizens about the recent resignation of Police Officer Joni Isabell at the regular October meeting.
All council members, Dean Cherry, LeRoy Douglas, Dwight Booth, Larry "Whiz" Davis, Linda Donovan and Gaylon Gammill, were present.
Approximately 25 citizens were in attendance at the meeting. After council members had taken care of business on the agenda, Mayor Clifford Veach asked if there was a spokesman for the group. Even though they were not on the agenda, he said they would hear comments from two or three.
Geneabeth Shaneyfelt volunteered to speak.
"I'm concerned about the resignation of police officer Joni Isabell," Shaneyfelt said. "It doesn't seem sensible to me for a single mother of two to resign a position that put food on the table. Is there a written resignation? Can we hear it? She is an asset to this community. I don't think the citizens of Manila want to lose her."
Mary Horn spoke next expressing her support of Isabell.
"As women, we need Joni," Horn said. She has always been there for me. I respect the whole police department and have no problems with any of them."
Stacey Pierce also commented that her two children respect Joni and want to know why she is not in her uniform.
"I think you are avoiding the questions," Elizabeth Eddleman said.
City Attorney Wayne Wagner said Mayor Veach cannot discuss personnel matters
"You should be talking to Joni," Wagner said.
"I've talked to Joni and what I want to know is if this council looked into the reason of the resignation," Shaneyfelt said. "I would think the council should look at the situation and ask what is the problem. Did anyone go to Joni and ask about her resignation?"
Wagner explained it is a personnel matter.
"It is my understanding that Isabell has not requested a grievance hearing," Wagner said. "If Officer Isabell wants a hearing, she will need to request one."
When asked about two resignations, Wagner commented that as city attorney, he had only seen one.
One guest asked if she asked for a hearing, will one be granted?
Mayor Veach said that would be the proper channel.
The comments and meeting concluded with Mayor Veach expressing his appreciation for everyone's concern.
Mayor Veach reviewed the budget comparison.
"We are three quarters of the way home," Veach said.
After discussing individual departments, Veach said the budget is on track for the year.
He announced street paving should begin anytime.
Veach updated the council members on the proposed annexation.
"We have a list of people who have signed," Veach said.
City Attorney Wagner said they lacked the signature of four people.
"They have been contacted," Wagner said.
Veach said there has not been a real push on the annexation.
"It probably will not have any effect until the 2010 census," Veach said. "If we had enough, we could pay for a special census under the guidelines of the state. We are working on it slow, but sure. If you notice other towns the city limit signs are three or four miles out of town. Cities get more state money and in exchange we help the people in the city limits. We have left out some people that do not want to be annexed."
A discussion was held on additional storm sirens or individual radios for residences. Veach said David Lendennie, Mississippi County Coordinator, has recommended radios over sirens. He has said sirens are not for people inside."
"He has been schooled in all types of emergency situations," Veach said.
Veach said he would try to have Lendennie at the next meeting with information.
The quotes for two additional sirens were $21,500 or for larger ones $26,250. Veach said when Lendennie speaks to the council he should have the information on sirens and radios.
"I would expect the city to purchase the first round of radios," Veach said. "There are about 1,200 houses in Manila. The council will need to make a decision to go with sirens or radios after they have all of the information."
Councilman Booth addressed the council about rumors he had moved from his district.
"I need to let the council and the community know what is going on," Booth said. "We have moved my wife to my mother-in-law's home. As most of you know, my wife's parents have helped me care for her at our home since her automobile accident. Since we lost my father-in-law this summer, it is easier for my mother-in-law to be at her own home and I will be staying there some nights. I still have my home and will be maintaining it."
Mayor Veach said he would check on the legality of it but did not think there would be a problem.
In other business:
*The council set a date for National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) class for 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29. The class will be conducted by Manila Chief of Police Jackie Hill who is certified. Council members Davis and Douglas commented they had already gone through the training.
*Mayor Veach announced the bid opening for a new garbage truck will be held Nov. 2.
*The City Council approved unanimously for Mayor Veach to apply for a grant for a new fire station.
*Veach distributed copies of the 2004 water and sewer audit.
"Everything seems to be in accordance," Veach said. "The certified public accountant was very complimentary of our bookkeeping."
*Veach informed the council five bids were opened on a tractor/mower for the airport. The bids will be put on a spread sheet for the council to review at the next meeting.
*Trick or treat was set for 5-8 p.m. on Halloween.
*Veach read a letter from the Arkansas Department of Corrections, one of two groups that help keep the community clean. Veach said they are asking for the city to purchase five gallons of gasoline for each trip. The council agreed.
*Veach said work is needed on the transfer station.
"It is time to do something," Veach said. "It is getting dangerous. I'll let you know how much money we are talking about once we get a cost estimate."
*Veach said he had talked to the owner of the Henry property on Baltimore Street about clean-up.
"If we don't see any progress in the future, we may have to take steps to get it done," Veach said.