Leachville Council welcomes Mayor Wells back

Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Reno, the new K9 officer at Leachville, attended the August City Council meeting with his handler Officer Alan Lasater.

Leachville City Council members welcomed Mayor Ralph Wells at the Aug. 24 meeting. Mayor Wells has been recuperating from heart surgery and was absent at the July meeting.

"I've missed you all," Wells said. "I hope to get back in full force soon. I

appreciate all of you for keeping everything going well and Ruth Ann (Keith) for taking care of the paperwork."

All council members, Karen Wallace, Teresa Johnson, Lisa Baldridge, Michael Webster, Ethel Hetler and Tommy Stone, were present.

Keith, city clerk/treasurer, asked the council about hiring Martha Galloway to clean city hall on a regular basis.

"She did a complete thorough cleaning and did a good job," Keith said. "She estimated it will take her four to five hours a week."

Council voted unanimously to hire Galloway to clean city hall.

The council also voted to discontinue the floor buffing service at this time.

Police Chief Steve Lancaster informed the council of the approval from the Department of Justice for a grant in the amount of $1,698 for five vests and the reimbursement of $250 each from the Arkansas Chiefs' Association. He said the department will be able to get five vests at an estimated cost of $3,500 with the city paying the balance.

Councilman Tommy Stone said he wanted them to get the good, thin vests.

"They are more comfortable," Stone said. "I want our officers to be protected."

All of the council was in agreement to purchase the vests and pay the additional cost.

Chief Lancaster also spoke about a communications problem the department is having.

"Our equipment still works well but it is not compatible with the new system the county sheriff's department has installed," Lancaster said. "Our system will not link with their system. The time has come for us to switch our communication system."

He said the Manila Police Department is changing. He talked about the importance of being able to communicate with the neighboring agencies.

Councilman Johnson asked how it will affect the fire department.

"I'm getting numbers for the fire department and the police department," Lancaster said.

He asked the council to be thinking about it. He will meet with a representative from Grays Communications later in the week and will have a more detailed report on the cost at the next meeting.

He also talked about the fire text phone service for all firefighters and police officers. Officer Chuck Brown showed a fire text he had received on his telephone. Chief Lancaster said it was very reasonable with an estimated cost of $145 a year. The council voted unanimously to allow Chief Lancaster to set up the fire text system for the firemen and the police officers.

Street and Water Department Supervisor Robert Ballard asked the council about hiring an employee to help with meter reading. He would like to find someone who would be interested in training to get a water license.

"We need to look for someone who will stick with it and be there to take over when you are off or on vacation," Councilman Webster said.

Ballard said he had one person who had expressed interest in the job.

The council voted to allow Mayor Wells and Ballard to meet with him and if they approve, hire him for a probationary period.

Ballard went on to inform the council the employee who had recently quit said he had 32 hours of vacation coming he did not receive.

Keith said no one who has quit has ever received vacation.

"If he had scheduled his vacation before he quit he would have gotten it," Keith said. "If you do it for one you will be setting a precedence."

The council had a discussion on how vacation days are earned. Keith said employees received one week vacation after one year on their hire date, and then the following January, they start receiving two weeks vacation.

Stone said the council may need to change the policy for future hires.

Councilwoman Wallace said she felt he had not worked a full year before he quit.

He was in his third year of employment for the city.

"I think he had been a good worker for the city and I make a motion we pay him for 32 hours of vacation," Councilwoman Baldridge said.

Councilwoman Johnson seconded the motion but it did not pass with Councilwomen Ethel Hetler and Karen Wallace, along with Michael Webster abstaining and Stone voting no.

In other business:

*Keith gave an itemized financial report by departments. She ended the report saying total funds available are $33,801.33.

*The council approved allowing Ms. Keith to attend several upcoming workshops and informative meetings on finance and budget; AML Advisory Board; ACCRTA District Workshop; and a meeting on employee health insurance.

*Mayor Wells announced Leachville will host the county mayor's luncheon on Wednesday at city hall.

*The council voted to appoint Nancy Sills to the Leachville Housing Authority board. She will be filling the vacancy left by Lois Hunter who has retired and plans to move from Leachville.

*Mayor Wells announced the Leachville Foundation and Fire Department will be providing and installing fire alarms for interested Leachville residents at a cost of $4.99.

*City clean-up will be Sept. 25-27. The city site will be open on Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. during the clean-up days.

*Keith said she had called the landfill about tires. She said she was told tires can be taken to the Northeast Arkansas Waste Management area. "I was told there is only one trailer there and the tires have to be stacked on the trailer by whoever brings the tires and it is full at this time."

*Councilwoman Hetler asked Chief Lancaster how the enforcement of the curfew is going. Lancaster said they are enforcing the ordinance. "We utilize that tool to make sure juveniles are not out after curfew," Lancaster said.

*Councilwoman Baldridge asked about refrigerators/appliances outside near the old church/school. "Refrigerators are a danger to children," she said. Mayor Wells said he would talk to the owner of the property. Baldridge also asked if the city had a mobile home ordinance. Keith said the city does not have one.

*The council voted to have the 90 fire hydrants serviced at at cost of $38.50.

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