Caraway Council discusses water, police issues

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Caraway Council discussed water issues, police issues and park needs at the Oct. 11 meeting.

Mayor Barry Riley and all council members were present.

Caraway presently does not have a working water well and is purchasing water from Buffalo Island Rural Water services.

Mayor Riley presented two cost estimates for the city's well. They were from Miller-Newell and John Selig for the project, saying both are coming in at about $950,000.

Mayor Riley said he has been looking at options to fund the project through a bond issue with a one cent sales tax to pay back the bonds. He said financing the project with a sales tax will not be as hard on citizens on fixed income.

“If we go through a grant/loan process, rate increases will be mandated,” Mayor Riley said.

Water superintendent Terry Couch said the residents will not notice an extra penny for every $1 spent.

“With the sales tax, the cost does not fall all on our customers,” Couch said. “It will not stretch our people to the limit.”

Mayor Riley had asked about lowering the sewer rates to raise the water rates and he was told it could not be done.

He also pointed out if the project comes in less than the bonds, the city will only pay back the actual cost.

“I would like to have a town meeting and let the citizens know what is going on and get their input,” Mayor Riley said.

A sales tax has to be approved by a vote of the people.

Mayor Riley pointed out there is no way to get the sales tax on the November ballot and the city will have to pay for a special election later which will cost about $2,500.

Presently Caraway has 586 water customers.

Councilman Roger Williams said the people need to know the options.

Couch said Buffalo Island Rural Water is aware the project will take at least a year or a year and a half.

“They have been good to us,” he said. “They are charging us the same price we charged them for water eight years ago.”

"BI Water is our back up plan until we get a well," Councilman Williams said.

No action was taken.

The council voted to rent a 120' lift tower for a week at a cost of $3,300 to have work done on the water tower and other projects needed.

Couch had spoken to the man who will do the welding on the tank and it should take two days which will give them time to use it for different projects around town.

A parent addressed the council about an issue with two police officers.

"I come before the council tonight and ask that you consider reviewing and overriding decisions based on advice of the city attorney," she said.

There was a recent incident with two officers, Wyatt Wheaton and David Choate, and a search of about 25 teenagers gathered on main street.

The parent presented the Arkansas Statute for public intoxication commenting when the officers arrived on the scene they asked all juveniles to leave.

“If drinking was suspected, a responsible officer would not allow the minors behind the wheels of their vehicles when there was no way to distinguish the difference between who was believed to have alcohol,” she said.

She went on to say none of those who were tested with a Breathalyzer met the condition of the statue to justify the search. She also pointed out the filth of the reused tube officers used on the tests. She said when her daughter asked about the legality of the search, Officer Wheaton cursed her and threatened to take her to jail.

“Wheaton does not need to be employed, and I would like to see Officer Choate get more training,” she said. “We have not filed charges on this officer yet.”

The council went into executive session.

After the closed session, Mayor Riley said based on discussion and advice of the attorney and others, it was decided termination was not warranted.

“We are following what our lawyer told us to do,” Councilman Roger Williams said. “In my opinion, they made a mistake. I hope the officers learned from it. They are not bad guys and you are not bad guys. I hope it doesn't come to a lawsuit. I hope we can work it out. We are a small town, and I hope we can work together and move on.”

Earlier in the meeting Mayor Riley said a buyer who had purchased lots near the sewer plant is now talking about dividing the lots and building rent houses. Mayor Riley said he had informed the buyer to bring in any plans to be reviewed before any work is started.

Later, at the close of the meeting, Jeremy Garland, who has also purchased lots with plans to build near the sewer plant, said it was his understanding the lots were to be used for one house per lot sold. Garland said he did not want to build a 2,500 square foot house across from rental property.

“If rental houses are put up across from my property, I will split my lots and put up rental houses,” Garland said.

In other business:

*Councilman Jerry Martin asked about the Basler building. He said Helena Chemical is interested in continuing to lease it but would like a contract until at least May. The council voted at a previous meeting to let a real estate company explore options for a factory to locate in Caraway.

*The Fall Festival will be held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at the park. Trunk or Treat will be held at the park about dark.

*Park Commissioner Jeremy Garland informed the council lights in the in-field need to be fixed. He said there are teams wanting to play at the park which generates income but after 40 minutes the in-field lights shut down. Craighead Electric replaced the bulbs. The council agreed it has to be repaired and a discussion was held on options.

*Councilman Bo James said Mr. Wallace approached him about a mower he had gotten because he thought the city wanted to purchase it. Mayor Riley said he told him he would look at it. "I asked the park commission and they said they did not need it," Mayor Riley said. "It was about the same time we purchased a mower for the park." He also said other mowers owned by the city could be repaired.

*James then said the salvage grocery store across the street should be open in November. He is getting permits for salvage and non-salvage items. He said it will be good for the people in the community, especially the elderly.

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