Manila Council hears preservation program

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Manila City Council welcomed Vanessa McKuin, executive director with the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas, to the Monday, Aug. 16, meeting. McKuin presented a slide presentation on the Preserve America Program. McKuin has been working with the city and the museum/depot committee on Manila's application to become a Preserve America Community.

Vanessa McKuin, executive director with the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas, spoke at the Manila City Council meeting.

Two Manila sites, the train depot and the Herman Davis Monument, are on the National List of Historic Sites. McKuin said they would continue to support Manila and the depot committee. She spoke on the benefits of becoming a Preserve America Community.

Mayor Clifford Veach and council members thanked Ms. McKuin and Donna Jackson for their efforts in restoring and establishing the museum in the train depot.

On the agenda was removal of the old water tower. McKuin said she would be glad to put the city in touch with someone to see if the water tower is eligible for the National Register.

Donna Jackson said she would look into it. The tower, built in the 1930s, is listed on the walking tour.

Mayor Veach said he is for preservation but he also has to consider the cost to the city. He had two bids on the cost to take the water tower down and clean up. The low bid was $16,300 and the other was $21,710.

Since the water tower is structurally sound, the council agreed to hold off on removing it giving Jackson and McKuin time to look into the possibility of restoring it.

Mayor Veach and the council reviewed the budget which is 58 percent into the year.

"All in all we are not too bad," Mayor Veach said. "We have a couple of departments that will need help."

Mayor Veach updated the council on several projects including the public works building, the Costner sewer project, water-sewer generators projects, Airport Center air conditioning and heating project and the fire truck grant.

"Hopefully, we will be in the bidding process for the public works headquarters by the next meeting," Veach said. "We are advertising for an administrator for the water-sewer generators project. Everything seems to be on go with the project."

He said there has not been a lot of activity on the Airport Center air conditioning and heating project.

"I know we have the grant," he said. "The procedure is being developed. I call them about once a week."

He said the application for the fire truck project will need to be sent to Washington for approval.

"I have heard the $100,000 we were promised may be $50,000," Mayor Veach said. "Fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money. It will probably be a month or two until we hear."

The cost of the new truck is $300,000.

"I'll be working on it," Mayor Veach said.

The Fire Department requested the approval of two new firemen, Corey Newcomb and Drew Byford.

"I don't know either one but if the chief and firemen recommended them I will make the motion to approve them," Councilman Larry "Whiz" Davis said.

The council voted unanimously in favor of both men.

Councilman Linda Donovan asked if any progress had been made on clean-up of property on Clarence Street.

Attorney Wayne Wagner said he and Chief Jackie Hill had been talking to people in New Jersey about the property.

"Property throughout Arkansas has been abandoned by the owners and some mortgage holders are abandoning the properties, also," Wagner said. "We are trying to make the legal calls."

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