Caraway Senior Center open house held -- Mayor Riley urges citizens to support 1-cent sales tax

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An open house and reception was held at the Caraway Senior Activity Center from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, from 2-4 p.m.

Caraway Senior Citizen Site director Cleffie Gipson welcomed all to the activity center's open house Sunday. Mayor Berry Riley was on hand to speak to the group concerning a proposed 1-cent sales tax to be voted on.

"This is our way of saying thank you to the people in our community," Site Director Cleffie Gipson said. "We have such a large group of senior citizens that come here each weekday, and they are just like family. We not only eat lunch together but we play games of all sorts and have good fellowship. We take special trips, do crafts, and work on projects together. This is a real extension of our family. We are thankful to have the support of our city and our whole community."

Despite the rain, the building was full of guests to enjoy refreshments, punch and fellowship on Sunday afternoon.

Mayor Barry Riley was present and expressed his appreciation for the work done by Gipson and the volunteers at the center.

"I think we have the very best senior center around, second to none," Riley said. "You all have made this a great place to come and enjoy each other's company. The city tries to do everything it can to be supportive of the center.

"As you know, the city of Caraway is going through a difficult financial time. We have had to make some tough decisions to just keep things going. Caraway citizens will decide on Dec. 13 whether to allow the city to collect a 1-cent sales tax to go into the city's general fund. We hope that voters will get behind the proposal and vote yes to adopt the tax to help improve a declining budget for the city."

"The city's funding woes began in April at a rate of $5000 a month," Riley said. "And in July the city revised the General Budget with major cutbacks including money to purchase new equipment, monetary backing for grants, and cutbacks to some of the services that were being out sourced, such as the mowing of the cemetery.

"Without funding from the tax, in 2012, the city police department would have to downsize to two officers. Crime is at its highest level at the present time with several arrests being made in the past few months and break-ins at an all time high. With the high crime rate the need for three officers would be very important to help combat the problems the city is experiencing during this peak."

"The city water lines are deteriorating due to age of the systems and at some point the city will have to replace lines as well as the streets that get torn out to get to the lines," Riley said. "Hopefully the tax would generate enough to put money back to help fund the breakages when needed. "

"I want the citizens to understand that the leaders of this town have done everything possible to keep the city running with the budget we have, but due to a higher cost of living and the census being down from 2000, the city's budget is suffering," Riley said. "We are asking for your help in order to stabilize services for the citizens, and continue to support fine places in our city, like this senior center. This is a very important issue for us all. We are all in this together."

A town meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12, in the council room of city hall for Caraway citizens to hear about this .

Early voting will begin Tuesday at the Lake City and Jonesboro Courthouses and voting will be Dec. 13 at the Fire Station in Caraway. Anybody needing transportation to vote may call city hall 870-482-3716.

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