GRAVETTE — Members of Gravette City Council heard reports from several department heads during their May 12 committee plenary meeting. A written report was submitted by the fire department.
Police Chief Chuck Skaggs said his officers completed 104 hours of training in April, including firearms training. He noted that the department has two new patrol vehicles and thanked council for approving this purchase. He said officer Felisha Latham was in her third week at the police academy and he was looking forward to her completing her training and returning to the force. He also indicated that he had interviewed another potential officer.
Building inspector and code enforcement officer David Keck said work on the segment of the footpath connecting the existing trail to Pop Allum Park is expected to be tendered this month. He said Dollar General had submitted designs for a new store that would be located on Arkansas 59, on the south side of town. He said he was trying to catch up after all the rain and said employee Shannon Higgins had obtained HVAC and plumbing inspection licenses.
Water utility supervisor Richard Sutherland said sludge disposal insects have been placed in the sewage lagoons and should save money on chemicals. He said he recently completed an advanced sewage course and received 24 hours of training.
Karen Benson, director of the library, said the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will bring its mobile art lab to Old Town Park on Saturday and Friends of the Library is planning a check presentation to contribute money from six collections of funds. She also explained that a StoryWalk has been approved for installation at Hiwasse Park this fall. The StoryWalk project is a collaboration between the library, the parks department and the police department.
Streets and Parks Department supervisor Tim Dewitt said he has hired six lifeguards who will take a course at the civic center on Wednesday and Thursday and the pool is being prepared for the Memorial weekend opening. Day. He said his team was busy mowing and repairing water damage to roads in the area.
Mayor Kurt Maddox said the vacancy for city clerk/treasurer was posted and only one application letter was received. The applicant is Dani Madison, who is currently a member of the Planning Commission.
Chamber of Commerce President Steve Harari addressed the council and presented a draft Gravette Plan 2030, a 10-year vision for the city. He said the city needs to establish a process to develop a vision. His plan is modeled after the one used at Rogers/Lowell, but on a smaller scale, he said.
Harari said Main Street should be a centerpiece for the community and that business owners and city officials should not just wait to see what happens, but should be proactive and pursue what they want. . He said the 2030 plan should guide city leadership, integrate the community and accelerate infrastructure development so residents can be prepared ahead of an expected growth spurt. He proposes that the city create a vision document to be released in the first quarter of 2023 and that steering committee members meet periodically to brainstorm. The steering committee would be a partnership between the city and the chamber.
In new business, council members considered the effort to codify all of the city’s ordinances, categorize them, and put them online. Maddox explained that anyone can go online and look up all the prescriptions, which should streamline those searches. An ordinance adopting and promulgating the new ordinances code will be on the agenda for Thursday’s council meeting.
Also on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting will be a resolution to declare as surplus two vehicles that are no longer in service, a 2002 Kawasaki motorcycle and a 1999 Cat 416C backhoe. The backhoe has been approved as a trade-in on the new backhoe in December.
Two redistricting plans for the city’s neighborhoods were presented. Maddox explained that these boundary changes are necessary after the last census to ensure the neighborhoods are as similar in population as possible. He said council members will have time to study both plans and a redistricting plan will be voted on in June.
An application has been submitted for a large-scale development by Dollar General, the construction of a new retail store on 1.34 acres in the 1,000 block of First Avenue SE A vote to approve the application will be taken by the day of Thursday’s board meeting.
A lease agreement with the Friends of the Gravette Public Library will also be voted on at the meeting. The agreement will cover the rental of two rooms in the old library, one for a book sales room and one for storage, with access through the east door of the building. Maddox said 80% of profits from book sales will be donated to the library.
Carl Rabey, chief financial officer, presented the adjustments for the 2022 budget. He said he had received approval to pay police salaries from US bailout funds and that the new ambulance could be paid for on the general fund. A resolution approving the adjustments will be voted on at the May 26 meeting.
Rabey described April as “kind of a flat month.” He said there was a deficit of $54,000 in the general fund, largely due to expenses of $15,000 for the purchase of a backhoe, $14,000 for tools for the loader compact and other repairs. He said expenses exceeded income because police vehicles had also been purchased. He said there was a surplus of $175,000 for the year and there was no change in the bond fund.