Manila City Council heard a proposal for developing a city website from Audra Howerton and Blake Howerton of SculptNet Web Site Development, Inc., of Paragould, before the February meeting was called to order. The meeting was held on Tuesday evening due to the Monday holiday.
All council members were present and thanked them for the informative information and agreed they would consider it and how it could benefit Manila. They also discussed checking with Manila Industries and the Airport to see if they would like be part of a webpage if the city decides to go forward with it.
Council members are Larry "Whiz" Davis, Linda Donovan, Donnie Wagner, Tony Hawkins, Dale Murphy, and Jason Baltimore.
Mayor Wayne Wagner opened the meeting with the approval of the minutes, budget comparison. He told council members he had talked with the city bookkeeper/treasurer, Rebecca Hartsgrave, and she said she would be glad to go through the budget with the council members making them more familiar with the headings. He suggested they come in one or two at a time to meet with her.
Mayor Wagner said city clean-up had started at city hall.
"We have done a little work and remodeling here," he said.
The police department offices were enlarged. The cells were removed with a kitchenette and break area for employees added.
"We heard a lot about city clean up during the campaign," Wagner said. "Chief Hill and Fred Burks, code enforcement officer, will be making a list of properties that need attention and should have it ready by the next meeting. We first want to talk to people and if that doesn't work they will be cited into court. We want residents to know we will work with them but we are serious about property clean-up. If we can take a back hoe and help load up an old car we can do it."
Councilman Murphy suggested getting a signed release before going onto anyone's property.
"We are limited to what we can do on private property, but there are some things we can do," Mayor Wagner said. "I have had some good feed back on opening the transfer station on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I think when the weather gets better people will take advantage of it."
Mayor Wagner also brought up a request from Elroy Brown, Mississippi County Coalition for a tobacco free Arkansas, asking to make the city park smoke free.
Councilman Baltimore said if the baseball teams get in the Cal Ripkin league one of the requirements is no smoking inside the gate.
Chief Jackie Hill said most adults to the outer fences to smoke.
"I don't have a problem asking people to go to the outer fences," he said.
Following a discussion about making the park a smoke free area, council members agreed they would look into it and gather comments from smokers and non-smokers.
The council voted to support the Buffalo Island American Cancer Relay for Life with $500 in advertising.
The council discussed the swimming pool issue.
Mayor Wagner told the council there was approximately $170,000 in the swimming pool fund.
"We need feed back on what the citizens want," Mayor Wagner said.
"When I was on the council before we worked hard to pass the sales tax for the pool and people are asking when," Councilman Hawkins said. "I think we need to start now."
Councilman Baltimore agreed it is a project the citizens of Manila want.
"The question is do we want a pool like the one we had or one geared more just for fun and recreation," Mayor Wagner said. "You have to look at the maintenance and operation."
Councilman Murphy said they will have to look at the location, also.
"I want the citizens of Manila to have a say in what we do," Councilman Davis said.
Mayor Wagner said he would get pictures of four or five swimming pools in different towns and get proposals together and have a public meeting after the March meeting.
In other business:
*The council agreed to look at the cost of fencing the 50x35 foot lot where new generators have been added to the water system."
*The council also decided to place the logo "In God We Trust" over the double doors in the lobby area of city hall.
*Mayor Wagner said the school is looking at starting a tennis team. The Council agreed to look at lighting and getting the tennis court ready.
*The council also discussed extra lighting at the park. Wagner said they made money on the concession stand last year and they are working on the field. They would like to get a shot at a high school baseball tournament. They also discussed starting long term plans for a new park. They agreed the park has outgrown it space and there is a parking problem.
*Mayor Wagner said new tables have been purchased for the community center. The council talked of needed around the community center's doors.
*Mayor Wagner said he will ask council members to serve on various committees at the next meeting including parks and recreation, street, and airport.
*The council approved the recommendation of Fire Chief Keith Bennett to add Corby Dieu to the fire department.
*The council voted to approve the purchase of a sewer pump for the Costner Subdivision in the amount of $3,314.
*The council had no objections to the purchase of a new truck for the police department.
*Councilman Baltimore asked about a recycling program for the city. He said it doesn't not have to start out with anything with a big cost. It could be something as simple as placing a container at the park for aluminum cans.
*Councilman Davis said he as pleased with the census growth for the city.
"With some towns in the Delta loosing population, I think we are fortunate to have increased."