Leachville Council OKs sub-firestation grant request

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Drake Brown talks to the Leachville Council about a grant application for a firehouse substation. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Leachville City Council members approved a request from Drake Brown, aide to the assistant fire chief, and members of the fire department to proceed with the application for a grant to build an equipped sub-station near the newly annexed city limits. The council unanimously passed a resolution to go forward with the grant application with the Arkansas Rural Development Commission in the amount of $15,000 for a matching grant at the Feb. 23 meeting.

Brown said with the additional Leachville annexation the present fire station is not centrally located and there is a need for a substation.

If a substation is built it can help lower the ISO rating which will save residents on insurance rates.

Brown said he had talked to the grant coordinator and his recommendation was to build the substation in three stages. If approved, the first $15,000 matching grant can be used to purchase the land and a foundation. During the next round of funding the city may apply for another $15,000 to be used on a building. The third grant, if approved, would be used to finish the project.

Brown estimated the total project to be $90,000. He said matching funds from the city can be cash or in-kind labor.

He also said they are looking at a 35x60' building with three bays, office and restroom which would require three-quarters of an acre. Several council members said looking down the road it would be better to go with an acre making room for future expansion.

Brown answered questions about the grant process saying there are no guarantees.

Mayor Ralph Wells expressed his appreciation to Brown for the work he has done.

"The more I talk to Drake, the more I see we need this to help the people," Mayor Wells said.

Police Chief Steve Lancaster gave the January Police Report with fines and jail fees for January at $7,335. The jail bill from Mississippi County Detention center is $4,400.

Chief Lancaster talked about a JAG grant in the amount of $3,150. He submitted a request for approval for Samsung Tab 4 for each patrol unit to include four Samsung Tab 4s; four-Otter protective covers; four-RAM vehicle mounts with wireless keyboard; four one-year internet service.

"These will assist our officers to operate more efficiently by having access to data on the scene, enter daily logs, accessing RPS remotely, obtaining affidavits in the field, taking crime scene photos that can be uploaded to RPS, and other benefits," Chief Lancaster explained to the council. "When we get the approval from JAG we will get started."

Chief Lancaster said he was made aware last month about funds earmarked for equipment derived from no liability insurance citations. He plans to research the statute.

Council also discussed looking at alternatives to jail time for non-violent offenders, including in-home ankle bracelets and community service, which would cut down on jail fees.

Fire Chief Mark Johnson talked to the council about repairs on the 1988 fire truck. He said he had it repaired and the city will get a bill. The pump on the same vehicle is malfunctioning and he will keep an eye on it. It may have to be taken to Little Rock for repairs.

Johnson asked what happened to the lamps at the fire station.

"They were used on main street," Mayor Wells said. "We can get some new ones for the fire station. We should have informed you of what was going on."

"When I was mayor nine years ago I had employee handbook/job description on the agenda but it never got finished. Let's set up a time and work on it."

He told council members to look at the example handbook from the Municipal League and work on compiling job duties before they meet.

A working meeting date was set for 6 p.m. Monday, April 13.

Mayor Wells introduced Manuel Navarro, III. Mr. Navarro and his wife have been helping with the baseball field and concession.

Mayor Wells informed the council park committee treasurer, Mark Thrasher, had resigned and turned in the balance of the funds.

"Mark recommended Manuel and his wife," Mayor Wells said.

The Council asked if there was enough in the balance to start this year.

Navarro requested an account be set up so he could deposit fees he had collected and to pay the league fees, stock the concession stand, etc.

Council members voted to appoint Navarro and his wife to manage the ball park.

The council voted unanimously to amend the 2014 budget.

"We need to cut back in every area we can," Mayor Wells said commenting on the overspending of the budget.

Councilwoman Karen Wallace said some big bills had been paid and balances should be accumulating.

Councilwoman Teresa Johnson said the city is not in the business to make money.

Ruth Ann Keith, city bookkeeper, said the water budget was over due to electrical repairs that had to be made in the water department.

Ms. Keith asked the council about transferring city accounts since Heritage Bank in Leachville is closing.

The council voted unanimously to transfer the accounts and CDs to First National Bank in Leachville.

Greydon Williams, member of the EAST Initiative class at Buffalo Island Central, addressed the council about Geocaching, a high tech scavenger hunt. He explained caches are hidden on public properties. Searchers use apps on their phones and computers to track the hidden caches which contain different items. People who search out the hiding places can take an item if they leave an item. There is a log book in each hidden cache for searchers to record information.

He said they have placed some in Monette. It is worldwide but several are around the Northeast Arkansas area.

"It will draw people to the area," Greydon said. "People who do this don't mind driving several miles."

The council voted unanimously to allow the students to hide the caches.

Greydon also told the council if there is anything the EAST Class can do to help the community to let them know.

"We have poster printers and a lot of different technology available," he said.

The class is under the direction of Jill Sanders.

Ms. Keith informed the council that a representative from the Department of Labor had reviewed their comp time sheets for 2013-2014. She said they thought they were doing comp time correctly but comp time is 1.5 times after 40 hours.

The total amount for five employees for comp time and penalties adds up to $9,170.18.

The council voted to pay the bill.

In other business:

*Councilman Webster discussed plans to try to get a supermarket in Leachville.

*Mayor Wells said he spoke to a manufacturer who wold employ about 30 people. He said he would continue to look for jobs to locate in Leachville.

*Councilwoman Johnson asked about a tornado siren. Keith said they have a $10,000 grant waiting to be picked up and are working on additional funds to go with it.

*Councilman Michael Webster said on Jan. 25 two ambulances were in town at two places and Leachville first responders and police officers were there. He commended the volunteers for a good job.

*Cindy Brown thanked the council for supporting the area young people and what they are trying to.

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