July 18, 2007 Edition

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WRVFD to purchase building

City officials and employees met Tuesday at a newly purchased building, formerly Cavenaugh Auto World, which will be used as a new fire station. They are (from left) Josh Robinson, Quentin Cato, Paula Haskins, Mayor Michelle Rogers and Fire Chief Alan Haskins.
TD Photo ~ Kemberly Roberts
Gloria Wilkerson
TD Staff

The Walnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Department has agreed to buy a building on Highway 67B North to use for a fire station. Fire Chief Alan Haskins and the executive board of the fire department were in attendance at the July 10 city council meeting with the news about the building they plan to purchase.

Chief Haskins told the council that the firemen have agreed to buy the old Aycock Chevrolet building on Highway 67B North, last used by Cavenaugh Auto World. The building, owned by Frank Kelley, will cost $250,000 and will need an additional $75,000 of renovations. Renovations will include an emergency power generator, weight room, sleeping quarters, training room and radio room. The volunteer firemen will finance a total of $325,000 for the building.

"We have advertised for bids on a new building twice and the cost of a brand new station is too high," Haskins said. "This building will give us better coverage with three stations, including one at College City and the one on East Main. We plan to tear down the old Fireman's Hall to one bay. It will be manned eight hours a day, and volunteers and off-duty personnel will respond to night calls."

Chief Haskins told The Times Dispatch that renovations to the building will begin as soon as the bank finalizes the loan. "We will not tear down the old building until the new one is functional and we are moved in.

"We're happy to be moving to new headquarters, and it will greatly benefit the city. The building is one of the things we needed for a lower ISO rating, which will lower the cost of insurance for homeowners and businesses.

"There is equipment we still need on our trucks to be fully compliant with ISO, which is our goal," he said. Firemen are hoping the city will help them pay for the necessary equipment.

The council accepted the bid of $30,969.20 from Town and Country in Jonesboro for a Bobcat 331 excavator with an extended boom. The excavator has a standard 24-inch bucket and a 39-inch mop-out bucket as well as a 12-month, unlimited-hours warranty. Town and Country was the lowest bidder on the excavator with all the equipment needed by the city. Ron Smith made a motion to lease the excavator with the option to purchase it. The motion carried.

"This machine is probably the number one model," Street Superintendent Jim Poindexter said. The excavator will be used primarily for ditching, which will help reduce flooding and standing water, a great breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Alderman Michael "Button" Wallin told the council that the city has got to do better than it has in the past to control the mosquito problem. The additional rain so far this summer is making the problem worse.

"The trucks are spraying six nights a week, we're spraying by plane and we're using larvacide weekly instead of biweekly. We're also testing other chemicals because we may have an immunity problem," Wallin said. "We need people to keep alleyways open for our trucks. The ad running in the paper is helping people think of things around their property holding water they hadn't thought about before."

Council member Paula Haskins commented that Newport has done a lot about mosquito control. "They pay $5 where we charge $1.50 on water bills," she said. "I'd like to see us do a survey to see if the citizens of Walnut Ridge would be willing to pay an extra dollar or two and have no mosquitoes."

The council agreed that the mosquito committee would look into how large an increase they would need to provide extra mosquito control. The city's mosquito budget is currently a little over $110,000.

Mayor Michelle Rogers told The Times Dispatch that she is not in favor of increasing fees on city water bills for mosquito control, and that she has let the council know her feelings on the subject.

She also told the fire department and the police department how much she appreciated their hard work to make the fireworks in the park a great success. She thanked Kandy Hart for the patriotic music, Michael "Button" Wallin for spraying for mosquitoes for the event and all the sponsors for the fireworks.

In other business, the council:

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