Caraway council welcomes new council member

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Caraway Councilman Marvin Browning (right) welcomes newly elected Councilman Jerry Martin to the first meeting of the year.

Caraway Mayor Barry Riley and council members welcomed new Councilman Jerry Martin to the first meeting of 2017 held Tuesday, Jan. 10.

Mayor Riley gave the Mayor's address reviewing the accomplishments of 2016 and sharing goals for 2017.

He said the city moved forward in 2016.

"In 2016 the city of Caraway has made improvements by purchasing new equipment, approving new policies, and signing contracts for new businesses in order to keep the city moving into the future," Riley said.

Mayor Riley said the city purchased a fire truck in 2016, replacing an older model purchased in 1986 and in need of repairs. The fire department and city are working on updating equipment in an effort to lower the ISO rating to help residents qualify for lower insurance premiums.

"The city's sewer lines started to show their age and have to be replaced," Mayor Riley said. "In order for these lines to be replaced, the water department needed equipment for the workers' safety, as well as equipment to help them in digging the old lines and replacing them with new lines. The City Council allocated funds in the 2016 budget for the purchase of two trench boxes and a backhoe. The first block of repairs has been completed and the next block will begin in the spring and summer months."

Other improvements Mayor Riley mentioned included the city's approval of a drug free policy; direct deposit for all city employees so they do not have to go out of town to deposit their checks; and the funding for the Arkansas Municipal League to code all city ordinances and put them on digital record. The ordinance project should be completed by March 2017. The city entered into a contract with Abilities Unlimited to process the recyclable bags collected through Blue Bag project. The county finalized the Mitigation Program for the County, which will enable the city to be available for FEMA grants or aid in case of a disaster.

Riley went on to say the Basler building was rented to Crop Production until the end of the year and it has now been rented to Helena Seed Company.

"I am looking forward to working with them," Mayor Riley said.

Mayor Riley said he was proud to announce the launching of the new Caraway website created by Brooks Jeffrey Marketing.

"They did a wonderful job," he said. "The new website will help us get news and events out to the citizens and promote our community. The office staff will be training next week on adding events and information to the webpage. We will be adding the council minutes for the public to view."

He encouraged the council and citizens to check out the city's web-page at www.CityofCarawayAr.org.

Mayor Riley went on to say the web page will give those who are thinking of moving to Caraway an idea of how great a community it is.

"This city needs to continue moving forward with projects to help improve our infrastructure and promote a community that can support future businesses," Mayor Riley said. "It will take the mayor, city council, city employees and the citizens of Caraway to make our town strong. I am very proud to represent this town; we have a great little town with the best volunteers a community can ask for. So, let us all work this year to make our community stronger."

Mayor Riley said a good clean-up ordinance is in the making and it should help the city enforce city clean-up regulations.

The city council voted unanimously to revise the 2016 budget to coincide with the actual amounts spent for the year.

The council then voted unanimously to approve the 2017 proposed budget. Mayor Riley said a few changes had been made from the first proposed budget he submitted in November. One of the changes included funding to purchase a flow meter for the waste-water treatment plant. Terry Couch, water/sewer manager, said the purchase was necessary to keep the city in compliance. It also included a 25 cent an hour raise for employees. He also pointed out he increased the police budget up to $114,000. There were no changes in the street budget.

After a review of a list of items/equipment not being used by the city, it was decided to accept sealed bids starting Jan. 18 and ending at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 6. A list of the items will be advertised in the Town Crier and be available at city hall.

The Council discussed with Fire Chief Scott Browning the cost of purchasing new hoses. The council voted unanimously to use funds from Act 833 to purchase the hoses and pay off the loan for the fire truck purchased last year.

Council and Chief Browning discussed the cost of a rescue/brush truck for the department and agreed to look into the possibilities as a future project.

Mayor Riley thanked Councilman Roger Williams and his volunteer group for their work through the holidays.

Williams said it was a joint effort of a lot of people. Williams reported 51 food boxes were distributed and toys for 56 children were provided thanks to the generosity of the people of Caraway.

"We could not do it without the help of the citizens," he said.

Councilman Bo James reminded the council of the upcoming annual Make A Wish Road Block at the Intersection near the school on Feb. 17.

"Last year we raised $14,000 and I hope we can match or exceed that amount," James said. "It is for a good cause."

Mayor Riley asked for names of workers who do floor work. He said the tile in the senior citizen building needs to be removed and he would like to get an estimate on staining and finishing the concrete floors.

Other items brought to council members included speeders on School Street, a long trailer on a lot in town and leaks on backhoe hoses.

The next regular city council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9.

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