Monette Council OKs "blue bags"

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Monette City Council approved plans to enter into a new blue bag recycling agreement with Craighead County Landfill at the April 28 council meeting.

Angela Sparks, executive director of the landfill, addressed the council concerning the benefits of the program.

"This is all about saving," Sparks said. "Cities using blue bags last year were Bay, Bono, Brookland, Caraway, Jonesboro, and Lake City. They collected 664,580 pounds and over 500,000 pounds of that was able to be recycled."

The Craighead County Regional Solid Waste Management District provides participating cities with pickup trucks, trailers and blue bags utilizing funds from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Recycling Grants Program. The cities provide the labor, fuel, etc. as match for the District grants. For every ton of waste put into landfills, $2.50 is paid to ADEQ and part of that is then returned to the districts in the form of recycling grants.

"Blue bags can be used for all metal cans, clear glass containers, as well as #1 and #2 plastics," Sparks said. "All electronics go to Craighead County's Legacy Landfill, off Highway 1 south of Jonesboro."

Kima Stewart, Buffalo Island Central Elementary principal, told about the 10-year success of the school's recycling program.

"We have collected aluminum cans, office paper and can tabs," Stewart said. "We take the aluminum cans to Hummelstein's in Jonesboro. The proceeds from the project provide funding for sixth grade caps and tassels at graduation. The can tabs are taken to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis. Each gallon of tabs donated results in one chemo treatment for a sick child. We have a recycling bin at the east entrance of the school to collect office paper.

"BIC West Elementary won the State Weirhauser Recycling Award in 2006. With the $1,000 we received we were able to purchase shredders and class recycle bins. We will be glad to help with education of our students, as to the blue bag project, and are interested in being certified."

Sparks expressed her appreciation for the school's interest in recycling and willingness to be certified. Training sessions will be held this summer.

The Monette Buffalo Island 4-H Club has been recycling aluminum cans as a club fund raiser for over 15 years and has a cotton trailer parked south of Monette City Hall, on Monette Co-Op property, for use as a drop-off point.

"We have seen recycling be successful with other towns and wanted to be a part of that," said Mayor Chub Qualls. "Everyone will be sent a blue bag to start with and extra ones will be kept at city hall. If necessary we can place some at the school also."

A site has not been finalized for placement of the recycling trailer, but Stewart welcomed one to be placed at the school.

"We are excited about being a part of the recycling program," Stewart said. "We will be ready to implement it when we start back to school on Aug. 17."

"We have a transfer station in Lake City but can't complete improvement plans for the site until the Highway 18 expansion plans are finalized," Sparks said.

The council voted to purchase a new truck with Craighead County Recycling District funds for use in picking up blue bags. The city must commit to the recycling program for three years. Trucks may be replaced every five years.

"I'm all for recycling," Alderman Steve Suber said. "It will save expenses of going to the land fill. There is no income out of blue bag pick up, but it is the right thing to do. We should be able to introduce recycling in force by Aug. 1."

"When the grant comes through we will purchase the truck," Mayor Qualls said.

The city set May 5-9 for City Wide Clean-Up week.

The council adopted Resolution 2008-3, which is a Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Mayor Qualls, Chief Bob Blankenship, Police Chief Brian Carmichael, and David Moore have all completed the National Incident Management System course as a part of fire protection curriculum program.

Mayor Qualls listed the priorities for 2008, which included work on the new Edna Mae Way Street, south of BIC High School.

"Edna Mae Way has been cleaned out and the county will begin work down there Monday," Qualls said. "We will be using slag on the surface of the street from South Reeves to the ball park. Nucor Steel is providing the material and Craighead County will do the hauling. We plan to put gravel on the street later and let it set good for a year. South Reeves has proven to be the most traveled street in Monette. We have considered using chip and seal later as asphalt is so expensive. We will get an estimate on the cost on May 12.

"We have been told it costs $50,000 a mile for chip and seal and $100,000 a mile for asphalt. We are looking at putting slag at the park and on Carroll Street. We can only do so much a year, as funding holds out."

The city made plans to repair base and purchase a sewer pump near the Housing Authority property, south of town. Housing and replacement of pump was estimated at $30,000. Bids will be sought for all necessary improvements and purchases.

Qualls reviewed the results of the two open forums held last month to discuss annexation. He explained that both positive and negative comments were received, as expected. Plans are to place the proposed annexation on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The council approved a change in employee benefits and approved holidays. Employees currently receive eight paid holidays. The addition of two more will include a day off for the employee birthdays and one floating holiday of choice. The changes from eight to 10 holidays will be adopted in the Employee Handbook Policy effective July 1, 2008. An extra week of vacation will also be added for any employee having more than 10 years of service.

"We have good employees and we need to take care of them," Qualls said.

The council accepted the resignation of patrolman James O. Carpenter, effective April 22, due to decision to relocate. Carpenter has worked for the City of Monette for 14 months. An ad will be placed in the paper requesting applications for the position.

Qualls announced a new business addition, Jan's Deals on Drew Avenue. A special ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on Wednesday, April 30, at 11 a.m.

Qualls announced the newly repaired weather siren has been installed at the city's new water tank, near the school.

The third ball field fencing has been completed and paid for.

Alderman Byron Sparkman requested the Monette Youth Association consider not scheduling games or practices on Wednesdays and Sundays, if at all possible.

"It is hard to restrict the use of a public park," Alderman Tom Carroll said.

"We didn't use to use that time, just because it was convenient," Sparkman said. "Now the children are overscheduled."

Alderman Suber announced landscaping is near completion at the intersection and city hall, except for the addition of eight bags of mulch.

City Attorney Johnny Dunigan will be asked to review an independent inspection of the Frolic Footwear property before finalization of the city's legal acceptance is made.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 7 p.m. May 26 at city hall.

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