Manila Council hears update from Moving Manila Forward representative
Andrew Fleeman, committee member of the newly formed non-profit organization, “Moving Manila Forward,” addressed the Manila City Council at the regular meeting held July 24.
Fleeman updated the council, informing city officials of the Moving Manila Forward organization, working with Ray Benson through the University of Arkansas, on community development. The services provided can be a great help to small communities as they work to promote the towns they work with, Fleeman said.
A Facebook page with a survey has been created and so far it has 217 responses. Fleeman spoke about meeting with Dr. Mark Peterson, professor of Community and Economic Division of the University of Arkansas, and the services offered to help with the revitalizing of main street and other projects.
“A lot of the comments from the survey are what we (as a council) have talked about but it takes funding,” Council member Jason Baltimore said.
Fleeman said he is new with the group but he is excited about the possibilities for the community.
Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner said the city has a public hearing set for 5:30 p.m. Friday to discuss a park grant. He encouraged everyone who could to attend and offer input.
“Most grants are 50/50 so we have to remember if we receive what we apply for, we have to have at least half the funding,” Mayor Wagner said. “We have to look at priorities. Our number one projects now have to be the water/sewer systems. We have to take care of our basics.”
Wagner also encouraged the new group in their efforts.
“We do need to move the town forward,” Mayor Wagner said. “It will take everyone of us working together.”
Valorie Oldham addressed the council requesting a variance for plans to build on property at the corner of Davis and Parker Streets, adjacent to the parking lot across from the elementary school. She presented a rough drawing of plans for a small house on the north side of the existing structure. She said they had plans to remodel the existing house.
“We may reside in it for awhile but eventually it will be a rental house,” she said.
Mayor Wagner explained the process the council takes before a decision is made on variance requests.
“We hear the request and try to make a decision at the next regular council meeting. This gives the council and neighbors time to look at the plans and make comments or voice any objections,” Mayor Wagner said.
Mayor Wagner said the city had received a request from Little Rock to turn the local firefighter's pension over to LOPFI.
“We visited with our veteran firefighters and they are not interested in changing,” Mayor Wagner said.
City bookkeeper Cathy Huddleston said taking care of it is not a problem. The city receives a monthly check and she divides it between the retirees and fills out a report.
“Changing is not mandatory until we are down to five people,” she said. “We presently have 14.”
Two members of the council are also retired firefighters and both commented they were not for the change.
Following an executive session, the council voted to hire Clinton Eubanks as a full time police officer. Eubanks has been working as a part-time officer for six months.
Chief of Police James Skinner commented, Eubanks has been there for the city every time he has been called.
“He has nine years experience with the state police and he is a state instructor,” Chief Skinner said. “With him on board, we have three instructors, myself, Jered Camp and Eubanks.”
The council voted unanimously to hire Jeremy Gipson in the sanitation department.
On the recommendation of Fire Chief Tracy Reinhart, the council voted unanimously to add Paul Bell and Jerry Reed to the fire department.
“They will be an asset to the department, especially in helping cover the Milligan Ridge area which has been recently added to the Manila Fire District,” Mayor Wagner said.
Mayor Wagner also informed the council Jackie Hill would be back as code enforcement officer on Wednesday.
In other business:
*Mayor Wagner announced paving bids will be opened Tuesday, July 26.
*Discussion was held about repair of a water leak on Highway 18 near Bear State Bank. Henry Ford, water superintendent, is aware of the leak and he is getting parts to repair it. It is a busy traffic area and a decision will have to be made to either detour the area during work hours or do the work at night.
*Mayor Wagner informed the council that property purchased by Tony Craig on Dewey Street has an incorrect legal description. The council had no objection to the city giving a quitclaim deed for the west side of his property.
*Mayor Wagner said the senior citizen groundbreaking ceremony was a success. He said they hope to see footing and concrete work in the next two weeks.
*Wagner informed the council they had met with FEMA and will be taking bids on the damaged lines due to the flooding. The bids will be for using fiberglas liners for repair of the damaged lines. The city had been reimbursed for the work done on Concord Street. Baltimore said once they get a new engineer on board hopefully the city can get a long term plan in place.
*Mayor Wagner said there is a new limb truck driver and residents call city hall for locations. The city will try to pick up heavy items needed to go to the dump for senior citizens or others who really need help.
*Huddleston reported the six month ending budget looked good. There has been a lot done this year and there is the same surplus as last year.
*The next regular city council meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28.