This week the city of Manila will be filing a petition with the Mississippi County Courthouse in Blytheville to annex into the city property and homes located eight-tenths of a mile west of Manila along Highway 18 on the south side of the road.
City attorney Wayne Wagner told the Manila City Council in its regular meeting Monday that all the signatures for the voluntary annexation had been collected and the city is ready to file its petition with the courthouse. He said after filing the petition there will be a 30-day notice cycle and then a public hearing would have to
If there are no objections at the public hearing, the Manila City Council will then have to read and pass an ordinance accepting the property into the city. Wagner said there wouldn't be much change for those being annexed into the city because those citizens are already in the city's fire district and most get Manila garbage pick-up. He told the council that it could possibly be the first of May before an ordinance is ready.
Wagner said there would need to be some adjustments made to voting precincts but he doesn't there will be enough time to get that done for this year's primary and general election.
"I don't think we can change voting precincts between the primary and the general elections," Wagner said. "I'll check with the Mississippi County Election Commission on that but I don't think there will be any changes in precincts until after this election cycle."
Wagner went on say that annexing the area would give Manila the opportunity to continue to grow.
Also Monday, Manila Mayor Clifford Veach told the council that weather radio sales are going well.
"We bought 200 handheld weather radios and 300 of the table-top radios, and as of 3 p.m. today (Monday) we have sold 147 of the handheld and 205 of the table-top radios," Veach said. "I have already noticed that when we have a storm warning, we have a rush on them. I think it's been a smashing success."
Veach said there has been maintenance work done on the outside storm sirens and about eight to 10 city employees have been trained to activate the sirens.
"We now have control of our own sirens," Veach said. "I think it is really better for us to have control of our own system. I think we have everybody weather conscious and that can save lives. We have 53 handheld and 95 table-top radios left."
The radios are still available for purchase at Manila City Hall. The council agreed that the outside sirens should only be activated when a tornado warning is issued and the sirens should be activated either by the Manila Police or fire chief. The council also gave Veach the authority to order more radios when supplies gets low.
In other business, Veach said everything is going well with the city's budget and the new city garbage truck should be in by April 14. He went on to say that he spoke to Shirley Pulliam, who leases 60 percent of a building owned by the city to operate a Head Start program, and she wants to lease the remaining 40 percent of the building to expand the program. The lease offer is for $750 a month.
The council agreed to give Veach permission to accept and sign a lease with Pulliam.
Veach also told the council that the grant application for the new fire station project has been submitted to the Department of Agriculture and the city should know something fairly quickly. He then told the council that he was approached by the First Tee program about the city donating some money to the organization. Veach said he explained to them that it is illegal for the city to make a donation to an organization but Manila could purchase advertisement from First Tell. Council Leroy Douglas made a motion to purchase $300 worth of advertisement from First Tee, which was approved unanimously.
The council also approved a county jail fee agreement sent to them by the county that states the city would be charged $20 per day to house municipal prisoners at the county jail. The council then gave Veach permission to enter into two airport grant agreements. One of the grants is for new runway and other lighting and the other grant is for repainting of strips and other markings.
The council also approved the purchase of a 2x3 advertisement to be placed on the new city maps. The new maps will included the proposed annexed area.
The council went into executive session to discuss personnel. After coming back into open session the council unanimously agreed to rehire Jerry Bates to work for the city.