Leachville Council works through lengthy agenda

Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Michael Smith, work coordinator with the Arkansas WORK Program, discusses what the ANC program has to offer. Pictured with Smith are Leachville councilwomen Ethel Hetler and Lisa Baldridge.

Leachville Council approved purchase of safety equipment for the police department, set working meeting dates, passed an ordinance, set a public meeting date to discuss sewer expansion, heard report on jail fees, discussed tree cleanup and welcomed representatives from Arkansas Northeastern College at the council meeting Monday, July 16.

Leachville Mayor Rodney Robertson introduced Willie D. Williams, Success Navigator, and Michael Smith, work coordinator with the Workforce Orientation and Retraining Keys program, representing ANC.

Williams informed the council the Opportunity Bus will be available in Leachville to transport students to the Blytheville ANC campus. Williams talked about the opportunities afforded through the ANC career classes preparing young people for the local workforce. He went on to say they assist students with resumes, training for interviews, and even offer a career closet. Students can receive clothes for job interviews.

The Opportunity Bus will be picking up in Manila, Gosnell, Dell and Leachville. There will be a pick up and drop off location in each town.

Smith talked about the success of the WORK Program.

“We have had great success with our classes helping the students obtain high demand jobs in the local workforce," he said.

Along with the transportation, he talked about the available scholarships and other benefits available.

“If you know anyone who would be interested in some of the career programs we offer, we would appreciate you letting us know and we will be glad to meet with them,” he said. “We are looking for individuals who want to work. We provide the necessary skills and support for job opportunities.”

Police Chief Joni Isebell addressed the council about needed equipment for the safety of the officers. She said there is a lot of drugs and the officers deal with some serious problems. The list included hand cuffs, spit shields, taser cardridges, leg irons and narcotic kits. The total cost is $1,406.78.

The council members voted to make the purchase expressing the safety of the officers as a priority. They then voted to purchase new tires on one police vehicle and to check on the cost of placing dividing cages in all of the vehicles.

Council members present included Ethel Hetler, Lisa Baldridge, Paul Wildy, Teresa Johnson, and Richie Pace. Councilman Keith Evans was absent.

Fire Chief Drake Brown thanked Mayor Robertson for his assistance in acquiring the grant and donation for the radios for the department.

"We received half the money through a grant and Nucor provided the other half," Brown said.

The old radios would not allow the fire department to communicate with other departments in the surrounding area. Brown said the new radios are in place and working well.

Robert Ballard, water/sewer superintendent, said the street department dump truck is in need of repair. He said the transmission is going out and the estimated cost is $2,500 to $3,000.

"We use the truck every day," he said. "The work can be done in a week if you approve the repair."

The council voted unanimously to have the truck repaired.

The council then discussed a problem with companies or individuals taking down trees and piling them up for city workers to remove.

"We don't care to help our citizens remove brush or limbs but when whole trees are taken down and piled up we don't have the time to clean it up," Ballard said.

Baldridge asked if the dump is open so the tree trimmers can have a place to take the cut trees.

"The dump is open and they can haul the trees there," Ballard said.

The council agreed when a company or individual takes down trees it will be their responsibility to clean it up.

The council discussed ways to inform citizens of the change including flyers, information on the water bills, etc. It was also decided if the city has to clean up the trees, there will be a charge for the use of the city's backhoe and truck.

Ballard then talked about the need for a filter media in the near future.

"The quality of our water is still good but the filter will need to be replaced in the near future," he said. "The cost is about $21,000. I just wanted to let you know so you can work the cost in next year's budget. We have to take care of our water."

The council asked him to get a cost for the project.

"We are fortunate here," Mayor Robertson said. "Robert does a good job."

Ballard also informed the council a pump had gone down and was replaced. The city must keep a replacement pump on hand for an emergency and a new one has been purchased for $2,800.

During the financial review, Councilman Wildy asked about outstanding checks on the books (some dating back to 2015) and adjustments to water bills.

Keith said she tries to track down the checks but some are meter deposit refunds sent to the last known addresses and others just do not come back through the bank. She said she would continue to look into it, but the refunds cannot be taken off.

She explained the water bill adjustments come from citizens who fill up pools or have a leak. The bills are adjusted to take off the sewer charges.

"Citizens are allowed two adjustments a year," she said.

Mayor Robertson informed the council the county jail fees the city owed ($28,000) have all been paid except $8,166.

In other business:

*Mayor Robertson said he had contacted the roofer about a leak on the southwest corner of the Melody Theater. He said once the leak is repaired the carpet will need to be cleaned. The leak on the north side had been repaired.

*Clerk Ruth Ann Keith said she received the maps but it had the annexation addresses only. The council will meet on July 26 to work on the census. The council will also look over changes made in the handbook.

*The council approved an ordinance listing names of businesses the city may do business with up to a $500 limit. Keith said the ordinance replaces the old ordinance that did not list names as the auditor suggested. She went on to say anything over $500 would have to be voted on and approved by the council.

*Mayor Robertson asked the council about placing franchise money received in a CD or interest bearing checking account. Following a discussion, the council agreed to have the mayor check with the bank and place the money where it will get the most interest.

*A citizen asked about a dog pen and underbrush near the property she is mowing. She said she has been asked to take care of property and the dog pen needs to be moved. Mayor Robertson said they would look into it.

*Harvest Festival Chairman Lisa Baldridge announced the Ultimate Oldies Show will begin at 7 p.m. Sept. 1. A lineup of entertainment, games, drawings and vendors will be on schedule throughout the day.

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