Monette Council approves fire department needs

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Monette council held their last regular meeting of 2017 on Thursday, Dec. 14, approving the purchase of dumpsters and trash cans, increase in manpower for the fire department, passing the 2018 proposed budget, and discussing other city issues.

Mayor Jerry “Chub” Qualls presided at the meeting held at the Buffalo Island Museum with all council members, Tom Carroll, Brandon Decker, Bob Blankenship, Kristian Nuckles, Mark Rolland and Aaron Uthoff, present. Also present was recorder/treasurer Vickki Carroll.

Mayor Qualls updated the council on the cost of the repairs to the sanitation truck. He said more problems had been found and the cost went from $6,500 to $8,060.18.

Councilman Rolland said he had talked to the service manager and was told the repairs needed were not the same repairs done in the spring.

Mayor Qualls said there is a need of three six yard dumpsters and 21 trash containers. The council approved ordering the dumpsters and the trash cans. The council approved paying extra to have the trash cans stamped with "Monette."

The council discussed the number of wrecks at the intersection of Hwy. 139 and the new bypass. There has been at least nine wrecks in a week.

Mayor Qualls said the engineer for the highway project was in Monette on Monday and said both ends of the bypass should be opened by Christmas.

Councilman Decker said he had talked to Entergy about lighting. He said they are looking at placing two lights on Highway 139 and three lights on Reeves Street. He said Entergy will evaluate it. It could be done in the next seven to 10 days.

Senator Dave Wallace is also looking into additional lighting for the intersection.

Councilman Nuckles said the fire department needs additional equipment, not large items, and more manpower. He requested the city approve additional firefighters. The city presently has 23 and he would like to see the number go to 30.

“Just because there are 30 on the fire department does not mean all 30 are in town when there is a fire or an accident,” Nuckles said.

He went on to say since Nov. 23, the fire department has answered 33 calls - 13 medical calls, 10 accident calls and 10 fire calls.

The council was in agreement to increase the number of firefighters to 30 and use ACT 833 money to purchase emergency lights and vests for the fire department.

“We have found it is different working a two lane accident than a five lane accident,” Councilman Blankenship said.

The council approved the proposed 2018 budget. They were in agreement it is as close as it can get.

At the last meeting the council asked Mayor Qualls to consult with City Attorney Johnny Dunigan about the money left by John Paul Masner to be used for a Veterans of Foreign Wars monument up to $50,000. If at the time of Masner's death, the monument has been completed or such amount is not needed, the money was to go to the Monette American Legion to be used as determined by the governing body of the Legion. Dunigan said he did not see a problem with transferring the money to the American Legion and the American Legion could pass it back to the city.

Councilman Decker said before any money is moved around, there needs to be a meeting with all involved to discuss all the details.

The council tabled the transfer of the money.

Wastewater superintendent Jerry Lamar talked to the council about having the crew working on the new sewer plant facility removing the old, concrete structure while they have the equipment on site and finishing some electrical work.

The council agreed they might be required to get additional bids.

“We can't just spend money without getting bids,” Councilman Blankenship said.

Councilman Decker discussed grant applications. He said there is a lot to the process. He asked the council to be thinking about how much match money the city is willing to add and considering appointing a commission representing the cemetery, city parks and youth association.

“They all need to be involved,” he said.

He went on to say public meetings have to be held and priorities have to be established. He said work needs to begin for the 2019 funds. They will need to start making decisions in January, he said.

It was also suggested to have an open forum meeting to discuss development in Monette. A meeting with contractors, builders, landowners, and the public needs to be held in late January or early February.

Clerk Carroll said she had called and the pay off for the old sewer plant debt is $9,961.41. She said when it is paid off, they will have two loans with USDA, one for the water tank and one for the new sewer plant.

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