Judge candidate addresses Caraway Council
Craighead County Judge candidate Gary Meadows spoke briefly at the Caraway City Council meeting on Thursday announcing his candidacy for the office.
Meadows told of his background growing up on a small farm in Caraway. He owned and operated a business building roads for over 30 years and recently sold his business and retired.
"If there is anything I can do for our smaller towns, I will help," Meadows said. "If Caraway or any other smaller town has a problem, it is a county problem. Our small towns are part of Craighead County. I just came tonight to meet you all."
Mayor Barry Riley expressed his appreciation to Meadows for coming to Caraway and introducing himself.
The council reviewed the 2016 proposed budget.
Councilman Mitchell Tipton asked about splitting Marsha Stevens' salary between the three departments she serves with each paying four months. Mrs. Stevens serves as administrative assistant/secretary.
There was no objection and Mayor Riley said he would make the change.
The Council then discussed the best way to pay for the fire truck being purchased by the city at a cost of $50,000.
Following a discussion, the council agreed to make a sizeable down payment for half the cost using the ACT 833 funds available. The account then will have funding for any needed equipment for the truck. They voted unanimously to give Mayor Riley and Recorder/Treasurer Rick Stevens the authority to pursue a loan for $25,000 from U.S. Bank to be paid off in two years if possible.
Stevens informed the council the ACT Account has a balance of $61,908.
Resident Brenda Stotts spoke to the council expressing her apology for sounding hostile at the last meeting.
She also said she had been informed there is a five minute allotted time for concerned citizens to speak at the council meetings and she feels that is not enough time.
Mayor Riley said the time limit was set by a previous administration.
"I do want to thank Mayor Riley for visiting me and answering some of my questions after the meeting last month," Stotts said.
Stotts had copies of several city ordinances. She asked about controlled burns. The council said no controlled burns are allowed.
She talked about am ordinance from the 1980s setting a $1,000 fine for grown up grass and unmaintained property. She said it states the city can turn off the water if the resident is out of compliance.
Mayor Riley said they cannot use the water services as punishment.
She asked if the council was aware of the ordinance allowing only four dogs per person and if it is being enforced.
"I have a friend who is afraid to walk because of dogs," she said. "Also, I had a friend ask me to ask you why you don't pick up the dogs you don't know where they belong instead of the ones you know have homes."
Mayor Riley said the city is picking up as many dogs as they can.
"We pick up one, and three more show up," Riley said. "We do give people a first chance. We know dogs can get out but sometimes it happens over and over."
Councilman Roger Williams expressed his appreciation to Ms. Stotts for speaking to the council.
"There may be some things we are not aware of," Williams said.
Don Zell spoke to the council commending them for a good parade.
Zell asked about cleaning up an area on main street saying the alley looks like a junk yard. He suggested they have the owners get rid of the junk or put a fence up.
He said he is glad to have the car lot in town but there are a lot of cars that do not run. He suggested having the vehicles moved or putting up a fence.
He then asked about lowering the speed limit in front of Dollar General.
Mayor Riley said the city had no authority to set speed limits on the state highway.
Zell than asked about the city ordinance on trash cans being left out. He also said he would like to see all of the city ordinances in a binder placed at city hall where citizens can come in and review them.
Councilman Mark Bell said all ordinances are available on request.
Zell said it can take a long time to find what citizens are asking for.
Jerry Murphy asked if the council is anticipating another raise in utilities.
Mayor Riley shook his head no.
The council agreed last month to use some of the grant funding to stock fish at the city pond. Mayor Riley asked about using some of the funds, $1,000, for the community garden and new trash cans at the pond.
Williams said the Caraway Volunteer Group is taking donations for food baskets and toys.
"We will deliver the food before Christmas on Dec 19. Also, we will be giving away toys from Dec. 20-24.
Councilman Bo James asked about allowing the citizens present to finish their comments.
Stotts took the floor once again.
She commeded the officials for a good Christmas parade.
She continued her request for the city to work on unkept property.
She then asked about the recent incident with a police officer.
Mayor Riley said he is being punished.
"My vote would be to fire him," Stotts said.
The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 14, 2016.
A call to Caraway Chief of Police Pete Hicks was made Friday morning. Chief Hicks said Officer Aaron Bupp had been placed on a two week unpaid administrative leave. The officer was off duty on Saturday evening, Dec. 5, and was stopped in Caraway City limits by a state trooper. Bupp was speeding in a Caraway Police Department vehicle. According to Chief Hicks, he had had a drink but not enough to be charged with DWI. In addition to a two week unpaid leave, Bupp will be on probation for a year.