Manila Council hears update on building renovation

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Manila City Council members heard an update on the Halfacre building renovation, community center landscaping, airport terminal building, fly-in at the Manila Airport, swimming pool at the regular April City Council meeting held Monday, April 15.

All council members, Larry "Whiz" Davis, Linda Donovan, Donnie Wagner, Dale Murphy, Tony Hawkins and Jason Baltimore, were present.

Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner updated the council on the work being done at the former Van Halfacre building located on Olympia Street. It is being renovated by a company from Georgia. The work is being done through a grant. The building belongs to the city. Mayor Wagner said the building is being renovated at no cost to the city and when it is completed should create 8-10 jobs.

"It will be good for the city," Mayor Wagner said. "We are also fortunate to have the tool and die business in the other building. It is growing."

Mayor Wagner said the landscaping is going well at the community center/park area. David Hopkins, engineer, is working on bids for the parking lot at the swimming pool and they should be ready by the first of May. The parking lot will be done in phases.

Councilman Davis said the radio for the terminal building is in and all that is needed to have it running is a connector.

"The old connector is not compatible with the new radio," he said.

A group of local pilots recently met at the airport terminal building. Mayor Wagner is looking into getting fuel at the airport in an effort to generate more traffic.

"We also need a good airplane mechanic on site," Councilman Davis said.

A discussion was held on raising fees at the community center.

"Right now it cost $150 to rent the building and there is a $25 deposit," Mayor Wagner said. "Some people just leave the deposit and don't bother to clean it. We can't hire it cleaned for $25. The rent is reasonable and we get a lot of calls from people out of town wanting to rent it."

Mayor Wagner said the center also needs a few repairs.

"We used to complain because we didn't have anything there and now we gripe because we have too much," Councilman Hawkins said.

"I don't want to price us out of business, but we need to cover expenses," Mayor Wagner said.

They discussed raising fees to $200 with a $100 cleaning deposit but no action was taken.

There will be a fly-in at the Manila Airport on May 18. The rain date is June 1. The youth association will be serving breakfast, Manila Business Women will be selling fried pies, and the senior citizens group will be selling hamburgers and hot dogs.

Mayor Wagner encouraged everyone to come out for a good day at the Manila Airport.

He said they should hear from the grant application for a new terminal building in July. It is an 80/20 grant.

Mayor Wagner said they had applications for concession workers and lifeguards at the pool.

"The girls applications outnumber the boys 3-1," he said. "Paragould will be offering a lifeguard course and we need to get the word out for anyone who is interested in a lifeguard position at the pool to get certified."

A tentative date for June 25 was set for a dedication ceremony for the swimming pool. Mayor Wagner asked the council to be thinking of what they wanted for the ceremony.

Wagner informed the council he had received a letter from Rural Water about the low water rates and meter deposits in Manila.

"They informed us we are the lowest in the state of Arkansas," Mayor Wagner said. "In the letter they wrote they did not know how we are doing what we do on our present rates. It was suggested we need to raise our rates to pay off water/sewer bonds."

"Are we making the payments now," Councilman Donnie Wagner asked.

"Sometimes we have to take from the General Fund," Mayor Wagner said. "We are not saving anything for an emergency. I am not asking for an increase at this time but I do think we need to start thinking about it. There is nothing wrong with having the lowest rates in the state but somewhere down the road we may need more. I will get you a list of rates from other cities compared to ours."

Councilman Hawkins asked what was being done with the old police vehicles.

"One was turned into a K-9 unit and the other one will be used for parts.

We will have for sale but I plan to recommend letting Bobby Tucker purchase them for working on our other vehicles. Bobby has been good to our police department and good at working on our garbage truck and other vehicles."

"I don't have a problem with that," Hawkins said. "Bobby does a lot for the city."

Councilman Murphy asked about placing a light on the east side of the concession stand to give more light for the last people leaving the park. Mayor Wagner said they are looking at the lighting situation.

The council went into a short executive session with no action taken.

Councilman Wagner made a motion that carried 5-1 to move the meeting time to 7 p.m. during the summer months.

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