U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford meets with Lake City officials and citizens

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, met with Lake City officials discussing school safety and construction of a water tower. Pictured are, from left: Brenda Hutcheson, Harold Barker, Tommy Eakin, Lake City Mayor Jon Milligan, Congressman Crawford, Jeff Wisham, and Danny Dunigan. (Town Crier photo/Yvonne Hernandez)

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford met with Lake City city government officials, Riverside school administrator, and other citizens on Thursday afternoon where the topics included possible funding for a new water tower and school safety issues.

Lake City Mayor Jon Milligan welcomed everyone and addressed the issues to Congressman Crawford during the 60 minute meeting.

"We have 2,084 people, 45 businesses and seven churches," Mayor Milligan said. "We strive to make it a nice community and a clean place to live."

Lake City has worked to improve infrastructure in the past several years. The citizens passed a one cent sales tax with half the money going toward water and sewer and half to streets.

Building a water tower would help the city meet the 24-hour capacity requirements. It will improve ISO rating which will lower homeowners insurance and improve pressure on the city's hydrants.

Crawford serves as the chairman of a House Agriculture subcommittee working on rural development issues. He said his office will work with the city but commented the budget is tough.

They discussed the possibility of a long term, low interest loan and possible grants available.

"Grants are more difficult to get," Crawford said.

Andrea Allen, District Director, suggested starting with submitting a free application to the Arkansas Water Natural Resources.

The group discussed any available funding for a school resource officer.

Congressman Crawford said he had heard another idea at an earlier meeting in the week. It was suggested using the state's police academies to train and certify existing school employees including administrators, teachers, and janitors, to become school resource officers.

Alderwoman Brenda Hutcheson, a Riverside teacher, said she was not in favor of teachers having guns in the classroom. Alderman Danny Dunigan, also a school teacher, expressed his concern about liability insurance.

"I'm not advocating it, but it is worthy of your consideration," Crawford said. "An SRO in every school building could help response time in case of an emergency."

Alderman Tommy Eakins said he felt a uniformed resource officer would make more of an impression on the students.

High School Principal Chad Jordan said if teachers are used for SRO, they could not leave their 30 students unattended in a crisis.

Milligan said he and Superintendent Tommy Knight and Principal Jordan have discussed the idea of a traditional school resource officer for at least a year.

Crawford said the topic of school safety has been discussed a lot since the Connecticut shooting and people are looking at ways to better protect students.

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