Caraway Council nixes full time officer

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Caraway City Council met on Feb. 12 and discussed hiring of new police officer, approved park commission resignation and paid tribute to recent ice storm workers.

After a brief discussion about potentially hiring a third full-time policeman, the council decided to delay filling the position and to make use of part time and auxiliary policeman instead.

"Unless someone gets sick, this should work out for us temporarily," Police Chief Jerry Vaughn.

"You can try it and see how it works," Councilman Mark Bell said. "If it doesn't work out, let us know."

Mayor Barry Riley appointed a committee to meet with Vaughn, officer Pete Hicks and the part-time policemen to draw up a flexible officer work schedule. The committee consists of Aldermen Roger Williams, Bo James, and Mark Bell.

"We will do whatever it takes to work this out," Williams said.

"Either way we are going to have to pay overtime or get another officer," James said.

The council accepted the resignation of City Park Commissioner Greg Douglas. A new chairman and new commissioner will be named at a later date.

The council discussed the events of the recent ice storm that hit Caraway and the surrounding area.

"Needless to say we were not prepared for the ice storm," Riley said. "I guess no one was. We were fortunate to have such dedicated city employees, police officers, and firemen. Everyone pitched in to help keep things operating as well as they possibly could. Even though we did not have a designated shelter, we did have people from the Baptist Church, Methodist Church and the Senior Citizen Center volunteer to accommodate anybody needing help."

"Once again Caraway proved that it is a good place to live, as so many people came out to help their neighbors in their time of need," Terry Couch said.

"We had three gentlemen who volunteered to help keep our generators up and running during the ice storm," Riley said. "Randy Couch, Fred Couch and John Starnes worked 16 hours or so every day, along side of our city crew, to keep three generators running at the water plant, the waste water plant, and one generator that traveled around for use where needed."

The council voted to pay the three men $17 per hour for the work they put in during the storm, even though they did not expect pay for their labor.

"These men were our special forces," Terry Couch said. "We could never pay them what they are worth."

"I think we know now that we need a disaster relief plan for our city," Alderman Diane Powell said.

"We will try to meet with the heads of departments and church leaders to draw up a plan on this," Riley said.

Mayor Riley proposed establishing a special Street Project account for placement of $5,600 from FEMA funds, and $27,000 from the Jaws of Life Account. The 2009 city budget has also budgeted $12,000 for use on street repair.

The council unanimously voted to establish the Street Project account. Mayor Riley and City Clerk Rick Stevens will be listed on signature cards for the account.

"We have to concentrate on repairing our streets this year," Riley said. "We may do a lot of chip and seal."

James passed along updated information on new products being developed by Nucor Yamato Steele Co. for a more cost efficient slag mixture of chip and seal, and an easy storage cold mix being developed by Delta Asphalt.

Alderman Mark Bell compiled a proposed Swimming Pool Ordinance and copies of it were passed out to the council.

"I want you to take this proposed ordinance home with you and review it. We can take it into consideration at next month's meeting," Riley said.

The city is also considering preparation of a new dog ordinance evoking legal action toward the owners of a dog that is terrorizing the community.

Riley reported that notice had been sent to the owner of the Rebel Den asking for compliance with the city's clean-up ordinance or face condemnation of property. The deadline for compliance is March 12.

The council discussed the need for a back-up sewer generator for use west of town during emergency situations.

Complaints have been received for omission of trash collection on Payne and Tennessee Streets, and a more dependable trash collection schedule overall.

"Needless to say the trash pick up is not going well," Riley said. "This is something we need to talk to Delta Sanitation about."

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, at city hall.

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