The February Leachville City Council meeting was held Thursday evening with all council members present.
Following the reading of the minutes of the regular and special meetings, Ruth Ann Keith, city treasurer/clerk, gave the financial report. She said it had been a difficult month with the computers down due to the ice storm. After reviewing all departments, she said the police department salaries reflect the overtime being paid due to the ice storm. The street department also had some overtime.
The council discussed the pros and cons of replacing the street lights along Highway 119 destroyed by the Jan. 27 ice storm.
Councilman Bruce Wilson asked about the cost of the street lights to replace and the monthly electric costs.
Keith said it costs approximately $481 a month to operate the lights. Mayor Shelia Spurlock said Mississippi County Electric would replace the lights at no cost to the city.
"I talked to residents in the area and some did not care if they are put back up or not," Wilson said.
"There were probably 22 lights with eight still left on the poles," Spurlock said. "The eight are not working yet. We need to make a decision on if we want them replaced."
"The city could save about $6,000 a year by not putting them back up," Wilson said.
Wilson said his biggest concern was the fact all of the poles with lights were broken during the ice storm.
Spurlock suggested to at least replace one light at the intersection of Highway 119 and Highway 18.
Wilson made a motion to not replace the street lights with the exception of one at the intersectin of Highway 119 and Highway 18. The motion passed unanimously.
Following the water department report given by Keith, council members discussed the water tower debt reserve fund in the amount of $34,647. The city has been putting $700 a month into the reserve fund.
Wilson said at some point in time, the council would need to set a limit on the account or decide what to do with it.
Keith explained the money can only be used for water tower debt but if repairs had to be made with money in the water account, the reserve money would be available to make payments on the loan.
"We have enough to cover 10 months now," she said.
Keith suggested keeping enough in the reserve amount to make 12 payments and as the funds accumulated make an extra payment every quarter.
Wilson agreed it would be a good idea to pay off the debt earlier than the 40 year loan.
"We have seen this before with a 40 year loan," Wilson said. "Things wear out in 20 years and then what do we do."
Mayor Spurlock said the debris pick-up is about 50 percent complete.
Lt. Steve Lancaster with the Leachville Police Department gave a brief report from the police department. He told the council the fuel expense used by the police department during the week of the ice storm is being documented.
"We are still compiling the diesel and regular fuel we used during the ice storm to keep the generators going," Lancaster said.
Wilson said he had been approached by residents who are appreciative of the clean-up efforts.
"They were not complaining, but during the clean up some were left with ruts in their yards," Wilson said. "Is there any way we can help? Some people are not able to get out there with a shovel and level the yards themselves. Maybe we can help get some dirt in. I think we should help the ones who are not able to do it for themselves."
Spurlock said they would look at it and see what they can do later.
Mark Crabtree addressed the council about an alleyway on south main in need of repair. He offered to supply the labor and equipment. He said he did not want to start work without the city's approval.
Councilman Tommy Stone said if the city can't do it, he suggested allowing Mr. Crabtree to do the work.
Wilson said as long as the water and sewer lines are marked and Jake Ballard, water superintendent, and Dickey Coburn, street superintendent, approve of the work he had no problems with the work being done by Crabtree.
Paula Bowen updated the council about a grant she is working on for a skate board park. Bowen said she had researched a Tony Hawk Grant and an ARC Grant. The skate board park would be placed on the tennis court at the city park.
The Council gave Bowen permission to move forward with the application process.
"Even if it only costs us one third of the amount, that is good," Wilson said. "We spend a lot of money on the ball park and this is something for the kids."
Serena Duffel said she would like to see a place the kids could skate and not get into trouble.
The council offered their appreciation to Bowen for the work she is doing on the project.
Bowman also said a tentative date of Aug. 1 has been set for the Watermelon Festival.
Karen Wallace and Marlyn Looney, members of a newly formed committee working on erecting a veteran's memorial garden in Leachville, addressed the council asking for approval to use city lots.
"The committee wants to place a Buffalo Island Veteran's Memorial Garden across from Heritage Bank at the corner of South Main and Second Street," Wallace said. "There are two lots, one belongs to the city and the other belongs to Rodney Robertson. Rodney said he would give his lot to the city for the project."
Wallace and Looney said fund-raisers are being planned the help fund the project. A golf tournament will be held Aug. 16 at the Big Lake Country Club. The preliminary sketches include granite stones with veteran's names, possibly bricks, benches, flags, and all branches of the military emblems.
"This is something for all of the veterans and their families in all of the towns across Buffalo Island," Wallace said.
The Council voted to accept Robertson's lot to be used with the city's lot for a veteran memorial garden.
The council and guests expressed their appreciation to the fire department, police department and first responders for the good job they did during the ice storm.
"I'm grateful that city officials before us had the insight to have generators on hand," Wilson said. "We were able to keep our water going."
In addition to the generator for the water, another was available to keep the police department (used for a central command post) and fire department's radio and phone service open for communication during the power outage.
They also expressed their appreciation to the local farmers and Adams who help supply the fuel and diesel to keep the generators going.
In other business:
*Kaye Hultquist gave a financial report from the Leachville Industrial Development Commission (LIDC). She pointed out there is no administration cost or expenses taken from the account. All of the work is done on a volunteer basis.
*The council voted to adopt the 2009 budget.
*The 2008 budget was amended to reflect the actual expenses.
*Councilman Teresa Johnson gave a fire department report. She said they are in the process of getting quotes for an addition and equipment needed as well as working on rural fire dues.