Monette veterans park site chosen

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
The site for the Monette Veterans Park.

Monette Mayor Jerry "Chub" Qualls shared an update of the February Veterans Park Committee meeting at the Feb. 22 city council meeting. The new location on the north corner of Highways 139 and 18 will be the official sight of the park and work has begun. The Christmas tree has been removed and a monument has been chosen.

Henrietta Qualls, of the Veteran's Park Committee, will be gathering details for construction and price. The committee will meet soon to decide the fee for names added to the structure. The monument will be engraved with the words "Dedicated to those who gave some and to those who gave all."

Alderman Bob Hurst shared his appreciation to the Veteran's Park Committee for their work on the project.

The January Monette City Council meeting minutes were amended before approval. The change stated Bob Hurst voted nay to the raise given Mayor Qualls. Hurst said a lack of discussion on the topic led to his decision in the vote.

Discussion was held concerning the previous month's raise for elected officials. The January vote included an $800 raise given to Mayor Qualls. Hurst did not agree with the amount awarded the mayor. His argument was based on observations of the mayor's hard work and devotion of much of his time to the position. Hurst also shared he did not feel it was enough knowing the mayor was earning less than employees he oversees. He believed the raise should have been no less than $1,200, $1,500 if possible.

"He's been helping this city out in more ways than one besides what he is asked to do," Hurst said of Qualls.

Hurst also asked that the Council look into making the mayoral position full time instead of the current part time. His reasoning led back to the fact that Mayor Qualls spends more than part time working on behalf of the city.

The Council agreed to look into what is needed to raise the city of Monette from a second class city to a first class city. The classification, based on population and other factors, will affect multiple facets of the city from employment to eligibility for grants and more.

The Council decided in order to avoid impacting the elected official pay structure to give the mayor a bonus of $700 for the year. The Council will revisit the position and city classification in the fall when more information is available.

The Council discussed Ordinance 1983-1 concerning unoccupied and neglected properties. City Attorney Johnny Wayne Dunigan will compose a letter of notification to be mailed to owners of affected properties. If no response is received a notice will then be posted on the property. Following the notice, should no reply be made, the city will then condemn the property and continue with legal course.

Mayor Qualls gave an update to the council for the upkeep of the Monette Police Station. The city was only recently made aware of a $3,000 delinquency in payment for the building leased by the city from the county for the police headquarters. Mayor Qualls assured the Council that the debt will be resolved immediately and any repairs needed will soon be made. Mayor Qualls is aware of at least two columns in need of repair that have water damage. Multiple bids will be taken before a decision is made and work begins.

Brian Carmichael, Monette Police Chief, gave an update on the new police vehicle recently purchased. In January the Council agreed to the purchase of a 2016 Dodge Ram. Carmichael ordered the vehicle and a few days later received a call from the dealership. Following some discussion it was decided that a special service vehicle would be less expensive overall and more accommodating than the original choice. The special service truck has been ordered and is expected to be ready for use in a few months.

The Council also heard new information on the recycling program. The Craighead County Landfill has paid the cost of blue bags used for recycling along with $5,000 for trucks used by the city. The landfill recently requested participating cities help provide ideas to aid in funding for the program. Mayor Qualls shared a decision was made to asses a fee of 50 cents per ton on everything dumped in the landfill. Of that fee, 36 cents will be returned to the cities to use toward the recycling program. The funding to spend toward trucks will continue.

Jason Stewart met with the Council to share concerns of property. Stewart purchased land under the impression it was all county property and only recently discovered that less than half was annexed into city limits. Stewart has met all necessary requirements concerning the city property, but feels the split is unnecessary since the majority of his land is in the county. He has requested the city allow him to do what must be done in order to make his entire property county land. The Council agreed with the change Stewart requested.

In other business:

*Brandon Decker shared an update from the Youth Association. New positions have been added. Rusty Craig will be field manager. Michael Waldrip took position as equipment manager and Angie Rowland, concession manager. Vickki Carroll requested a complete list of officers in the association.

*Alderman Aaron Uthoff shared a complaint from a citizen concerning a neighboring dog off leash and disrupting his property. Police officers spoke with the owner of the dog who agreed to properly restrain the canine. The complainant has stated that the activity has not stopped.

*Tom Carroll mentioned the park is in need of some attention because activity will be increasing soon with warmer weather. The mayor shared intentions to look into grants and equipment, including the tennis court lights to be replaced soon.

*Larry Bibb asked about the increase of small vehicle traffic, specifically concerns about unlicensed minors operating the vehicles. Police Chief Carmichael mentioned possible ordinances and limits to restrictions would need to be looked at more closely and discussed.

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