New tornado siren to be installed in Leachville

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ruth Ann Keith, Leachville city clerk, gave an update on the tornado siren project at the Monday, Nov. 16, city council meeting. A deposit has been made on the siren. Delivery is expected by Dec. 23 and installation is expected to be in the first or second week of January.

Drake Brown, fire chief assistant, said when the deed for the land for the future fire department substation is transferred into their possession and the ground is surveyed, they will be ready to level the ground and prepare for the new siren.

A luncheon will be held Nov. 23 to disperse administrative bonuses. Keith said the city currently has $7,189.05 available. Keith offered figures based on bonuses given in previous years. Eight full time employees were allotted $600. All part-time and new employees were listed to receive $50 and fire department members $100. All administrative bonuses including tax would equal $8,992.84. Keith informed the council that $7,000 would be transferred from a savings account funded by the collection of utility fees in preparation for the purpose of paying administrative bonuses. The city of Leachville will be responsible for the remaining $1,992.84.

Alderman Tommy Stone recognized the work of two waste employees, and suggested they receive an increase in the bonus. Following discussion concerning possible changes in allocation of bonus from earlier years, the Council approved the motion for three part time and one new employee to receive an increase in administrative bonuses to $100, followed by unanimous approval of the Council to pay administrative bonuses for the year of 2015.

Robert Ballard, water superintendent, requested the Council consider purchasing new water meter readers. Ballard informed the council that of the two current readers, one was no longer in working order leaving the department with one reader that is faulty. Ballard found electric meter readers are available for purchase and older readers will soon be obsolete. The purchase of an electric reader would also require that meters be updated.

Ballard looked into pricing and estimated the cost of one hand held to be $8,000-$9,000 used and $14,000 new. The cost to update the 865 meters in service will be around $100 per meter for a total of $86,500. Ballard suggested meters be updated in phases to help with the cost of the overall update necessary for compatibility with an electric hand held meter reader. Ballard also suggested the update could cut back time and labor as well as rereading of meters. The Council agreed the system is necessary and to look into the budget for the purchase.

Ballard shared his findings on a dump truck that would be available for purchase in the beginning of 2016. He asked the cost be included in the budget for next year along with tires for the John Deere backhoe. After deciding the price of a new dump truck was too high, Ballard found a 2004 Western Star for $50,000-$55,000 along with an offer of $7,000 on trade-in. Currently one employee holds a CDL license and the Council discussed candidates for another driver.

Ballard also requested the purchase of an 8' blade to replace the current 4' blade used on tractors to plow snow.

Police Chief Chris Ellis will begin looking at applications to fill the vacant full time police officer position. Ellis said filling the position would reduce call-out hours and overtime hours as well as bring the department to full staff to more adequately provide police coverage.

Alderman Michael Webster pointed out the Council voted earlier in the year to have four full time officers and suggested the fourth officer be hired and begin training before the beginning of the year.

Chief Ellis suggested Brad Hitchcock be approved as a reserve officer. Hitchcock has been in law enforcement for nearly 20 years and resides in Manila.

Ellis brought Alan Lasater's recent promotion from sergeant to lieutenant to the Council's attention and requested a pay raise be awarded with the promotion. After an executive session, the Council informed Ellis of the decision to wait until the first of the year.

The city of Wilson has shown interest in purchasing two Leachville Police Department vehicles, a 2014 Dodge Ram and a 2007 Crown Victoria. Before the meeting, Ellis received an inquiry into the price of the truck alone. Ellis and the Council discussed possible options for the sale of the vehicle and the change of vehicles and necessities of the K-9 unit should the truck be sold. Negotiations will continue and Ellis will keep the Council informed of any progress.

John Edwards requested help from the Council to gravel, and eventually asphalt, unfinished roads located on his property development subdivision. Edwards informed the board since beginning the project 15 years ago, two lots have sold and three houses have been built. Four front lots have been bought in the last 14 months. Edwards noted that sewer, water, electric, natural, gas and telephone lines have been made available. Culverts and ditches have recently been completed, and dirt work is in process for unfinished streets. Edwards told the Council dirt work is expected to be completed by late spring early summer at which time graveling could begin.

Mayor Ralph Wells asked about the length and width of the streets. Edwards estimated a width of 22'-24' and a total of 1,360' in length. The Council agreed to consider the price and availability of materials and return an answer at a future date.

Marilyn Looney approached the council as a representative of the EOC to discuss concerns that not all needs are being met and services being utilized to their full capacity for the Leachville community. Looney emphasized the need for a work space in Leachville with a telephone line to provide services to those in need as well as training to ensure all employees are aware of all services available. After some discussion, a few suggestions were made and the council agreed to help in the search for a suitable office space.

Looney also brought to the council's attention a recent opportunity made available to her for the preparation/provision of food for Thanksgiving day meals. The same offer has been made and preparations begun in the supply of boxes to Osceola and Manila. Looney listed the need for help in acquiring names and the number of trays needed, a driver to pick up the food in Blytheville between 10-10:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and a location for those participating to retrieve the food once it is ready to be picked up in Leachville.

The council made plans to continue working on the unfinished handbook at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30.

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