Rescue truck purchased in Monette

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Town Crier News Staff

Monette Council met in regular session on Monday, Aug. 27, and heard reports on a new fire truck, the parks, and a new city street.

Fire Chief Bob Blankenship reported the new rescue truck had been purchased. The department purchased a 2008 single-cab, Ford F450, four-wheel drive from Glen Sain Motors in Paragould.

"The truck cost $33,447 and we ordered an 11' bed from Keasler Body for $7,468," Blankenship said. "We will be using Act 833 money and the fire department account to purchase the truck and bed. We decided to go with the single cab truck to be able to get more length to the bed. We are not selling the old truck at this time. The new truck delivery date will be in eight to 10 weeks. It will be outfitted with the equipment after we get it. We hope to have it in service by Nov. 1.

"In the past there has always been a benefit lunch to raise money for the ambulance service. Fire department members and their wives have helped serve and deliver meals. Now that the Buffalo Island Ambulance service is no longer in business, the department would like to take on this project to raise money for the fire department. With the things today it would be good to have a fundraising project for the department. This will also be a moral boosting project for the department."

The council gave their approval of the project.

"Last month, I brought up the need to be thinking about purchasing a new fire truck in the near future," Blankenship said. "If the council is ready to start research on a new truck, we are too."

"We already have a financial institution willing to work a lease purchase plan to purchase the truck," Mayor Chub Qualls said. "Please give us another month and we will let you know of our decision."

Mayor Qualls introduced new police officer Anthony Petty.

"We are proud to have him," Qualls said.

"The city employees have worked on the tennis court nets and they are in good shape," Alderman Stephen Strickland said. "The city might need to purchase a net to have in case one tears up in the future."

Alderman Tom Carroll reported that the tennis court lights have been repaired.

"We need to work on getting a grant in the future to resurface the tennis courts," Strickland said. "The skate park is still going strong and I think it has been a good idea for the area."

"We have had some misuse of the basketball goals and I have had them taken down for a while," Qualls said. "I feel that the people misusing the equipment have learned their lesson and I plan to have the goals and nets put back up. I will have the goals raised to 10 feet and they will be welded in place."

Mayor Qualls reported attending a meeting in Manila to discuss the proposed rate of increase to Buffalo Island Regional Water.

"Each city has to prove to the water company what the cost is to the city to produce the water," Qualls said. "We looked at the last two water and sewer audits and a wrote a letter to former Mayor David Fletcher about water costs. David said at that time it had cost $2.42 to produce the water."

"What does it cost us to produce the water now?" Alderman Steve Suber asked.

"It costs $2.82," Qualls said. "We have not heard anything yet on the increase."

"I called the Arkansas Health Department and they told me a new well cannot be dropped down into the old well without meeting specifications that the current well meets," he said. "That will cost approximately $5,000 for the company to come in and tell the city what needs to be done or $1,000 for the city to cap off the well. They said if it was not going to be brought up to specifications then it needs to be capped off."

Qualls reported that the long shaft driving the new well is out of balance and is in need of repair, as it is pumping some sand.

"We need to repair the shaft if it is vibrating and loud," Suber said.

"The water table is so low now that the plant is at capacity and cannot be shut down for repairs," Alderman Carroll said.

"We need to get a price on replacing the shaft," Suber said.

"We can do that," Mayor Qualls said.

"If the shaft is going to be pulled, then someone needs to be ready to go down with a camera and see how the well is operating," Carroll said. "I think the old well should be capped off. If we drop a well the water would be raw and would have to be treated."

Mayor Qualls agreed to check into the requirements and the council can discuss it at the September meeting.

Qualls reported that City Attorney Johnny Dunigan has received the last easement to be able to build the new road south of the sports park.

"I am so thankful the landowners gave the easements allowing the new road to be built," Qualls said. "The council has a copy of Ordinance 2007-3 denoting the easements and naming the street Edna Mae Way, after educator Edna Mae Freeman."

The council approved the ordinance unanimously.

"We have someone who is ready to go work on the new road and is doing it because of Mrs. Freeman," Qualls said. "After the utilities are located then he can go to work."

"Is it going to be surveyed after it is cleared off?" Suber asked.

"Yes," Qualls said.

"How much work can be done without disturbing the crops?" Carroll said.

"I don't know yet but this will be a major concern," Qualls said.

"Some work can be done from the school side now," Carroll said.

"I agree," Qualls said. "I called and received three quotes from fence companies for the new gate at the sports park."

"We need to make sure that it is the right gauge fence because what we have now is too lightweight," Strickland said.

"It is a gate and it won't matter what the gauge was, just that it be sturdy," Suber said.

"After the last council meeting I called Parks and Tourism to find out about using the maintenance fund for maintenance such as the gate," Qualls said. "As far as they are concerned the issue is between the city and the Monette Youth Association. They said there is nothing wrong with denying them funding but there is also nothing wrong with agreeing to pay for a legitimate expense. This issue comes up every time the MYA makes a request. Now that it has been verified I think the council should lighten up on the control of the fund and all be in agreement."

"This has been a sore subject for a long time," Carroll said. "If the council does lighten up then the MYA might start asking for something almost every month. I don't want to deny anything that needs doing down there but don't want to deplete the maintenance fund either."

The council voted unanimously to pay for the gate.

Mayor Qualls selected an annexation study committee to meet with him, which includes Revis Stewart, Dick Pace, Michael McFarlin, Dennis Gathright, and Steve Suber. Meetings will begin soon and the committee will report back to the council.

The council went into executive session to discuss employee demotion.

No action was taken after returning to open session.

Mayor Qualls requested the city spray the Tool Tech property and the vehicle impound yard with Round-Up, if possible.

Alderman Joyce Read asked where all the trees were going that were cut down on Ball Street.

"I think they were sold for fire wood," Suber said.

"People have been told not to take trees to the old city dump," Qualls said.

In other business, Alderman Carroll reported several streetlights being out and requested they be repaired. Police Chief Brian Carmichael agreed to make note of the lights and turn them in to the office.

The next regular council meeting will be on Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. at city hall.

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