Mississippi County mayors meet in Leachville

Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Manila City Attorney Wes Wagner, Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook, Leachville Mayor Ralph Wells, and Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner.

Leachville Mayor Ralph Wells and city staff hosted the Mississippi County Mayor's meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 26. Mayors and county officials meet on a regular basis rotating the locations giving county and city leaders the opportunity to share information from their own towns and work together for the betterment of the citizens throughout the county.

County Judge Randy Carney welcomed the guests and recognized Mayor Wells.

"We are delighted to have Mayor Wells with us today as he recently underwent open heart surgery," Judge Carney said.

The fish luncheon was catered by Bigg Butts of Leachville.

Each mayor was recognized by Judge Carney and asked to give an update on their towns.

Joiner Mayor Sissie Winford said they are working on grants. She expressed her appreciation to the Sheriff' Department for the work they do in Joiner.

Dyess Mayor Ken Gilmore said citizens are working on a fund raiser to keep the community center open, saying $2,000 was raised in one day. He said the streets are done and look good. Dyess has had 3,000 visitors from 30 countries from March to the end of July. He said property clean-up has started.

Etowah Mayor Bo McCullom reported a paving project has been completed. The city received a grant from the state and will receive a new brush truck around Sept. 1. Officials are working on finding owners of property to continue their clean-up efforts.

Dell Mayor Danny Moody said they received a grant through the efforts of former Mayor Kenny Jackson and will be looking at applying for grants for a restroom facility for the park. The city is in the process of installing a new accounting system.

Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner asked Judge Carney to give an update on Big River Steel. Mayor Wagner said many rumors are being passed around since the death of CEO John Correnti.

Judge Carney called the death of Correnti a shock to everyone. He went on to say David Stickler has been named new CEO. Stickler already lives in Osceola. Dan Murray has been appointed chairman. He said Correnti will be missed but the project is not going to slow down.

"We will all miss John and I ask you keep his family in your prayers," Judge Carney said. "Stickler will do a great job and will be a great friend to Mississippi County."

Correnti was known around the world as the steel man and he made Arkansas the number one steel manufacturer.

Mayor Wagner said things are going well in Manila. The Highway 18 four-lane project has made it to Manila and there will be some traffic issues.

"Things are up and well in Leachville," Mayor Wells said. "I thought I was doing it all by myself but I had surgery and was gone for a month and the great people that work for this city have kept everything going."

He went on to say the city is working on clean-up. They would like to find a way to fund running sewer lines to Highway 18. He said he felt Leachville's growth will be toward the four lane.

He went on to say there is an interest in getting a grocery store in Leachville.

Judge Carney asked Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook to update the mayors on Operation Blynd Justice.

Sheriff Cook said it was the third major sting operation held in Mississippi County since he became sheriff in 2011. Blynd Justice was the longest of the three taking over 18 months. The three operations have ended with over 120 arrests in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri.

"With these sting operations we have been targeting pipeline people," Sheriff Cook said. "We did pick up a few smaller arrests along the way. All of the agencies did a great job. I'm pushing toward the smaller arrests in our communities. I met with all of the chiefs and we are putting together areas of concern in their communities and will pass this on to the Drug Task Force. Hopefully Blynd Justice slowed things down. We are committed to Mississippi County. We will continue to fight this and I am not going to let up. I have been and will continue to be concerned about every community in Mississippi County. The chiefs are doing a good job and so are the officers. I have suggested we have quarterly meetings at the sheriff's department. No one has enough manpower. We have to work together."

It was announced the county-wide clean-up is Sept. 26 with reduced fees at the landfill.

The October mayors' meeting will be in Dyess. Judge Carney said he would invite Mr. Stickler to attend.

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