Buffalo Island Mayors look over 2017 and forward to 2018

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Mayor Jerry “Chub” Qualls, Monette:

Monette Mayor Jerry “Chub” Qualls said 2017 was a busy year with the construction of a new sewer plant that will service the community for many years to come. The the new sewer plant project is almost completed.

“It will be a benefit to the citizens of Monette and Black Oak,” Qualls said. “Black Oak has applied and been approved and in the future its residents can be serviced by the new plant, also. Once it is up and going it will be helpful all around.”

Mayor Qualls said he hopes in the near future some of the safety issues of the new by-pass will be settled down. Craighead County Electric will be placing night lights at the intersection where several wrecks have occurred.

Monette also has new playground equipment for the city park and when the weather permits, it will be added to the park.

“Hopefully, we will get an organized group to promote our by-pass to attract new businesses,” Mayor Qualls said. “We will be looking into getting sewer service out to the area which will help.”

Mayor Qualls has served as mayor for 12 years. He announced this will be his last year as he does not plan to seek re-election.

“I have enjoyed serving and I hope I have been a service to the community,” Mayor Qualls said.

The Monette City Council meets at 7 p.m. the fourth Monday of each month in the board room located in city hall.

Mayor Eddie Dunigan, Black Oak:

Black Oak Mayor Eddie Dunigan said street paving was one of the major projects in 2017. The city also received a grant for a museum to be located on main street. The town recently received a $45,000 park grant which will be used to update the city's park.

Plans for 2018 include getting the museum up and going, looking at adding a walking trail around the park, and applying for a sewer grant.

“When Monette built its new sewer plant, it was built large enough to accomodate us,” Mayor Dunigan said. “If we can get a grant to help us hook up it will be very beneficial to our community.”

Mayor Dunigan said they will continue to apply for grants to help with projects for the citizens such as the walking trail and a safe room.

The Black Oak Council meets the third Monday of each month.

Mayor Barry Riley, Caraway:

"In 2017 this city made some very important steps to rebuilding the city since the 2013 tornado," Mayor Barry Riley said. "The city also dissolved the park commission, took on policies to help and protect the citizens of this town, and said good bye to the old chiefs and hello to new ones."

In the first quarter of the year the city took on a new change to a policy. A new cleanup policy was put in place, to help keep the city clean. Mayor Riley applied for a grant to resurface Tennessee Street but was declined later by the Arkansas Development Commission.

Lexie Robinson of Caraway was named Humanitarian of the Year, making her the youngest in the state to ever receive this award. Caraway can be proud of the many volunteers who came together and helped families with upgrades to their homes, Riley said.

During the second quarter this city dissolved the park commission, named a person as park director to get the ball season in order and take care of the park during ball season.

Fire Chief Scott Browning retired from the fire department leaving the fire chief position open. William Maulding was later named to replace Chief Browning.

The city also passed an ordinance about the banning pit bulls within the city, raising fees for people to pick up their dogs if they were running loose and put in the dog pound. The City passed the police handbook, and also took pride in the fire department, and water department in lowering the city’s ISO rating to 4 from 6.

The city also very proudly welcomed Lecille Harris, Hall of Fame Rodeo Clown, to the city for the city's annual Bucking of the Bulls event at the city's rodeo arena.

During the third quarter the purchase of two new police vehicles, and the trading of three old police vehicles took place.

The city workers begin placing new sidewalks in the city starting on Waco Street.

The city sold property to Michael Oldham, who in the future will be building 30 apartments on the property.

The city also hired Neals Flooring to rejuvenate the floor at the senior citizens building.

The last quarter of the year the city said goodbye to Police Chief William Hicks in his retirement and named Shannon Kelems as his predecessor.

The city also hired two new officers in the last quarter of the year.

The city also received the property which the Masonic Lodge sits on and sold it in the last of the quarter to a company to be named later.

Mayor Rily said in 2018 the city officials need to keep focused on updating the city's infrastructure and to continue trying to find ways to entertain the growth of the city.

The Caraway Council meets at 6 p.m. the second Thursday of each month.

Mayor Rodney Robertson, Leachville:

Rodney Robertson of Leachville was elected as mayor in October after the death of Mayor Ralph Wells.

Robertson had been serving on the city council since January of 2017.

Some of the recent projects in Leachville include working on the expansion of the water and sewer to newly annexed areas, cleaning ditches to help with drainage and trimming trees.

"We had a good Christmas parade this year," Mayor Robertson said. "We had a lot of businesses and citizens donate to help with new Christmas lighting which really looked good."

Mayor Robertson said the city currently has two full time police officers and four part-time officers.

"We are working on increasing the number of full time officers for the safety of our citizens," he said.

The Melody Theater, which was damaged by fire last year, will soon be back up and running. Most of the work is complete except for the stage lighting and sound system.

Also, city officials worked on a grant for playground equipment. The city was approved and when weather permits the new equipent will be added to the city park.

Plans are to apply for another grant for ground covering for the fall zones around the equipment.

Leachville had an outstanding Harvest Festival in 2017. Plans are underway for the 2018 Harvest Festival which will be held on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.

Mayor Robertson praised the newly selected committee members for working to get the baseball park up and running last summer.

"The ballpark was closing due to damage," Mayor Robertson said. "The committee members stepped up and with the help of donations and sponsors the kids were able to have a summer season. I want to thank all of the volunteers who worked hard so the children would continue to have a place for their hometown teams."

Plans are in the making to have lighting added to Highway 119 near Highway 18 to help light the way to Leachville making it safer for motorists.

"I am looking forward to 2018," Mayor Robertson said. "I like working for the citizens of Leachville and working together we can make things better."

The Leachville City Council meets at 7 p.m. the third Monday of each month in the courtroom at City Hall.

Mayor Wayne Wagner, Manila:

Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner said Manila is already planning for a great 2018.

"The new four-lane highway will bring new business opportunities which will produce more sales tax revenues that can be used for growth and infrastructure," Mayor Wagner said. "We must prepare and do our homework.

"With our physical location in West Mississippi County between Blytheville, Osceola, and the Mississppi River to the east and Jonesboro to the west, it is very difficult to compete for new industries; therefore, we have placed special emphasis on ways to improve the quality of life issues in the city of Manila. Our strategy is to focus on the family, especially children. Manila has worked very hard developing an outstanding pool and park system. The new high school also will be a great asset for Manila. In addition, new and affordable housing is becoming a reality. Many of our local builders are building over 30 new homes in Manila and others are planned. We also just signed plans to build a gated-condominium complex within the city that is designed to be one of the nicest in northeast Arkansas.

"Along with attracting new people to our community, we strive to help those who already call Manila home. We are placing more emphasis on code enforcement and zoning and a continuing effort to assist in tearing down old, dilapidated structures and replacing them with new ones."

Some of the projects during 2017 include construction of the West Mississippi County Senior Center, another airport project, more street projects, the Southworth expansion, and sewer system improvements, which was funded by grants totaling over $1 million.

"To steal a phrase from the new Arkansas Razorback Football coach, we are 'hammering down in the left lane' to secure more grant projects for 2018 and the future," Mayor Wagner said. "In summary, to attract those workers from Nucor, Big River Steel, and other plants, we must work to create a clean, safe, and growing community.

"The City Council and I have surrounded ourselves with the staff, employees and department heads to work toward this common goal for 2018 and thereafter. If we do our jobs, there are still many people moving to this area that will call Manila home."

Manila City Council meets at 5 p.m. the fourth Monday of each month.

Mayor Jon Milligan, Lake City:

"It is hard to believe it is already a new year, 2017 flew by," Lake City Mayor Jon Milligan said. "I believe we had a good year in 2017. We were able to put in a new park on Stone Street, do some paving and purchase the old school property and get our new water up."

Mayor Milligan said they are hoping to re-do Nash Park in 2018.

"We installed a walking track last year and will also make it and our park at the ball fields A.D.D. approved. We were approved by the state aid committee for paving Fourth Street all the way to Highway 18 and Main Street from Highway 18 to Catfish Drive. This allowed us to take our money and pave other streets which was a big blessing. We will start the clean-up of the school property and figure out a plan on how to best use that property to better the qualify of life for our citizens. While maintaining and trying to improve our infrastructure we look forward to any growth that comes our way.

"We appreciate our school and what they bring to our community, all of our businesses for what they do and all they give back to the community during the year, and most importantly all of our citizens who make Lake City a great city and one I am very proud to be the mayor of.

"I also appreciate our clerk Linda Simpsom. all of our employees, our council, and all of our police officers and volunteer firemen. I thank the Good Lord above for watching ov er us and blessing us."

The Lake City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. the third Monday of each month.

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