Leachville becomes a Purple Heart City

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Leachville was recognized as a Purple Heart City. Pictured from left are: Council members Ethel Hetler, Lisa Baldridge and Paul Wildy, Mayor Rodney Robertson, Senator Dave Wallace, Commander of the Military Order of Purple Heart, Northeast Arkansas Chapter 708 Everett Evans, Council members Richie Pace, Teresa Johnson and Keith Evans, Manila Post 197 Commander Gregg Roll and Rep. Johnny Rye. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

The City of Leachville was presented a plaque in recognition of becoming a Purple Heart City at the Nov. 19 city council meeting.

Everett Evans, commander of the Military Order of Purple Heart, Northeast Arkansas Chapter 708 in Jonesboro, was joined by State Senator Dave Wallace, State Representative Johnny Rye, and Post 197 Commander Gregg Roll in presenting the plaque to Mayor Rodney Robertson and city officials.

Commander Evans gave the history of the Purple Heart, the oldest military medal, established in 1782 by George Washington as a badge of military merit.

A plaque was presented to the City of Leachville.

He told of the changes in the Purple Heart throughout the years.

Evans said the Purple Heart Trails and Highways serve as a reminder to help people realize why they have the freedom to drive down the highways. The visual signs are in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Evans expressed his appreciation to city officials for passing the Resolution to make Leachville a Purple Heart City. He also thanked Commander Roll for the work he does in promoting the Purple Heart areas.

“Post 197 in Manila will become the first Purple Heart American Legion Post in the state,” Evans said. “A dedication ceremony will be held on Sunday, Dec. 9.”

Following the presentation, Mayor Robertson discussing getting body cameras working for police officers to use. The body cameras were purchased over a year ago and were put on hold due to the cost of the technology equipment needed.

Police Chief Joni Isebell said the last estimate she heard was $8,000 or more.

“I think we need to check and see what it will take to get them operational,” Mayor Robertson said. “I really think we can get it done at a more reasonable price and we need to check into it.”

Chief Isebell said she had no problems getting the cameras in use.

Mayor Robertson said they will check on the cost of the needed equipment.

Drake Brown with the ball park association gave a report on the status of the ball park finances.

“We have ended the year with a balance of $16,384.94,” Brown said. “We started out with nothing two years ago. We will need the money to maintain the park and stock the concession stand next year. We want the funds to be regulated by the city. Ruth Ann (Ruth Ann Keith, city treasurer) is more knowledgeable about audits and taxes than we are. Adams Land gives us $5,000 a year to help with maintenance or anything else we need for the park.”

He went on to say the association would keep a petty cash fund and a journal on what is paid. It will come out of the gate fund and it should replenish itself each week.

“We want everything to be done right and legal,” Brown said.

Keith said she has never done the ball park funds but she will check with other clerks who have.

Water superintendent Robert Ballard presented two estimates for replacing water filter media.

"I talked to our engineer and he said both are good companies,” Ballard said.

Ballard pointed out if damage is found once the filter media is removed, it can be an additional cost.

The cost of the work will be added into the 2019 budget.

Councilman Keith Evans expressed his opinion for Mayor Robertson and Ballard to review the estimates, talk to representatives of the companies and go with the one they feel comfortable with and have them speak to the council.

Mayor Robertson said to date, no one has been sent out to check the roof leak on the new roof at the Melody Theater. He said he had talked to the roofers and was told they would send someone, but no one has looked at it.

Councilwoman Lisa Baldridge suggested having the city attorney call.

The council discussed the need to finish the handbook.

“It is near completion,” Councilman Paul Wildy said. “We don't like much.”

Clerk Keith said she is waiting on a reply from the Municipal League on a few questions.

The council expressed their appreciation to city attorney, Gina Knight, for her input on the handbook.

A working meeting was set for 6 p.m. Nov. 29. The council will work on the handbook and review the budget.

Mayor Robertson informed the council the city had received a check from Mississippi County tax receipts for $52,951.08. It will go into the general fund and the street fund.

He suggested placing $20,000 in a money market account. He said the city will receive franchise tax and sales tax.

“We can work on building up the money market,” he said.

The council voted unanimously to move $20,000 to the money market account.

All council members were present, Wildy, Evans, Baldridge, Richie Pace, Ethel Hetler and Teresa Johnson.

Mayor Robertson said the city attorney had recommended and he agrees the city needs safety/surveillance cameras. The council discussed the placement of eight cameras in and around city hall with a DVR placed in the mayor's office.

Mayor Robertson said he will have more information on it at the next meeting.

Wildy expressed his appreciation to Michael Webster, newly elected council member, for attending the meeting. Webster will be filling the position of Teresa Johnson who will be leaving at the end of the year. Wildy said he is looking forward to working with Webster.

“I want to thank everyone for attending the meetings,” Wildy said. "I wish more people would attend."

“I've been here 14 years and it has been good to work with all of you," Councilwoman Johnson said.

Visitor Maryln Looney talked about the partnership with EOC and BIC.

“We have a great opportunity here,” she said. We have two classrooms, one in Leachville and one in Monette, for children six weeks to three years old. There will be spots for 18 children. It will not cost the parents anything for the children to attend.”

She encouraged everyone to get the word out and stop by and see the classrooms. She said they can contact the EOC officer or Dr. Kima Stewart for more information.

“Our senator and representative are working for us,” Looney said.

Newly elected councilman Webster expressed his appreciation to the voters for giving him the opportunity to serve on the council.

“I will do a good job,” he said.

Senator Wallace encouraged the council to look into grant funds available through park/recreation.

“One of the problems is small towns do not apply,” he said.

Sen. Wallace serves on the tax reform committee and said they will be making recommendations next week.

They will be voting on $122 million in tax cuts.

Mayor Robertson said additional funds had been approved for a two inch overlay on the highway.

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