The Monette City Council met Monday, July 18, and again addressed Community Center rentals, Monette Housing Authority expansion, and special city events.
Mayor Qualls continued discussion of the proposed rental of the city's Community Center. A request from the Monette Housing Authority was for a chaperone to be present and responsible for rental of the center.
"I recall we stopped the rental of the center due to the disturbance of items and equipment used by the senior citizens," Alderman Bob Blankenship said. "People would have quilts out, or working on puzzles, and then they would have to put them away or move them to accommodate renters. I think we should leave it as it is."
"Most people don't have any place in town to rent for gatherings," Alderman Joyce Read said.
"Right now the Community Center only benefits about 15-20 people," Qualls said. "For the kind of investment that was made, I think more people should benefit from its use."
"There have been changes made down there from when it was originally built," Councilman Tom Carroll said. "We used to have a Head Start program on the north side, and it is not there any longer. The senior citizens have use of the whole building. Hopefully, now they could lock up that side of the building so that their projects and things would not be disturbed. That would leave the south side where the eating area and kitchen are for other use."
"It would be wise to lock up the north side when renting," Read said.
"We have had no revision to the original 1994 agreement to stop allowing rental of the building," Councilman Dick Pace said. "We still have the right to rent it out if we want to. There is nothing in this agreement where it says anything about a chaperone. We may have to look into charges for cleaning or utilities in case the rental or deposit does not cover it."
"We don't want it so high that people can't afford it," Qualls said.
"Before there was a question of who was responsible when things were left messy or damaged," City Clerk Vickki Carroll said.
"We need to have someone who is responsible to look at it before someone rents it," Pace said. "We will need a rental agreement, much like renting a car, with an inspection before and after. This should eliminate any differences on who was really responsible."
"We may have to eliminate half day rentals and just do one or two day rentals," Read said.
"I'm not for renting it if the city has to be responsible," Blankenship said.
"I'm for renting it with rigid guidelines," Tom Carroll said.
Mayor Qualls appointed Pace and Carroll to work on guidelines for rental of the community center.
The council reviewed an application for a building permit from the MHA to construct a 20x20 foot square post building on property owned by them on Gann Avenue. The building will be used to house the Buffalo Island Better Life Experience (BIBLE) program. The metal siding building will be built on a concrete pad. The building will be used by BIBLE to enhance the lives of persons on Buffalo Island by providing food and basic life needs for children, elderly, handicapped and people in need. It will serve the Monette, Leachville and Black Oak geographic area that makes up the BIC School District. The total cost of the building is listed at $9,350.
MHA has committed $8,000 toward the building and project and has applied for a Arkansas Delta Endowment Community Grant for $6,500.
Mayor Qualls said $1,500 has already been secured for the establishment of a food bank and would be available for use with the program.
The council expressed support of the project and agreed to provide water and sewer to the building if needed. No final action was taken by the council, as Blankenship and Carroll responded to a fire department emergency.
In other business:
*Police Chief Brian Carmichael announced Monday, Sept. 12, had been set as the Monette Night Out at the city park. The council pledged $1,000 in support for the planned event.
*Mayor Qualls announced a Buffalo Island Museum fundraiser for Saturday, Sept. 17. Boston butts will be sold.
"The museum has received a grant for $2,500 to finish the back of the building, on the south side," Qualls said. "The museum really looks nice and is something we can all be proud of."
*A request for more lighting at the tennis courts will be reviewed by the council.
Mayor Qualls reported the painting of streetlights is completed. Remnants of storm damage clean up still remain a concern. Financial grant assistance is being sought to complete the removal of debris.
*Weather sirens are in place. The two sirens on the outskirts of town will be activated by coded electronic meters while the one in town will be activated manually. Regular testing of meters will be done routinely, with date and time to be announced.
*Mayor Qualls announced the council will wait until the Aug. 15 meeting to fill alderman vacancies.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15, at city hall.