Monette Council discusses clean up, plans museum open house

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Monette City Council reviewed damages incurred during the recent ice storm and new projects being undertaken by the city at the regular council meeting Monday, Feb. 23.

"The ice storm hit us with a terrible financial bind," Monette Mayor Chub Qualls said. "Like other cities, we are looking to FEMA to give us some help.

"There are a lot of things we can put on hold until funding comes through. We had planned to pave Edna Mae Way but will wait on that for a while.

"When we had our last city annexation we did not pass an ordinance to put the new residents in wards. We need to have our attorney, Johnny Dunigan, look at this situation for us and advise us on the division of wards before we pass an ordinance."

Qualls reported the Buffalo Island Museum had been completely carpeted and is looking great. He invited the council to go by and tour the renovated building. Displays will be moved and put in place soon. An open house is planned for Memorial Day, May 1, with a special guest appearance by author Mark Grisham.

"The museum will be a great point of interest downtown, when it is completed," Qualls said.

Councilman and Fire Chief Bob Blankenship reported the overhead doors had been replaced at the old ambulance building at a cost of $237."

"The Boy Scouts have organized and are meeting tonight at the fire station," Blankenship said. "Mark Hurst is leading the Boy Scout troop and Kristian Nuckles is in charge of Cub Scouts. They will be undertaking community projects soon."

The council reviewed the quick response by firemen, policemen, city empl oyees, and volunteers during the recent ice storm. The city's command center was located at the fire department and operated 24 hours a day while the electricity was interrupted. The storm shelter was made available for anyone needing to relocate, but was not used.

Qualls and Blankenship praised the leadership of County Judge Dale Haas during the ice storm, as emergncy meetings were held with area mayors to locate equipment and supplies to meet their needs. Craighead County officials provided generators for the city and allowed the use of fuel tanks at the Black Oak Highway Department site. Bo James of Caraway manned the site to assist emergency crews needing diesel fuel.

"We are 95 percent done with our clean-up," Qualls said. "We had a lot of farmers and townspeople volunteer their services and equipment to help us. We had to rent some equipment and the people were willing to wait on pay until we get our FEMA assistance. We estimate that it will cost $160,000 to complete the clean-up. We will certainly have something to be proud of, if we can survive the financial part of this."

"We have certainly found out what the word community means," Councilman Jamie Strickland said. "Everyone came together to help."

Disposal containers were delivered to newly annexed residents this week. Charges for sanitation services will begin in April.

A new Dodge police car has been ordered and delivery is expected soon.

The city will be purchasing a new generator for emergency purposes. A generator was borrowed from Lonoke Rural Water Association during the ice storm.

The council discussed the purchase of a small John Deere tractor for use in picking up debris and use as a sweeper.

Mayor Qualls appointed Strickland to make plans for replacement of light poles at the tennis court. Strickland gave a report on the Monette Youth Association and progress on the memorial brick project.

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