November 21, 2007 Edition

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WR Council rezones property,
looks at options to help museum

Gloria Wilkerson
TD Staff

At their Nov. 13 meeting, the Walnut Ridge City Council voted to rezone property on Hwy. 412 for a new State Farm Insurance building. They also heard options for assisting the Walnut Ridge Flying School Museum and heard a report on the activated local National Guard unit.

The Walnut Ridge Fire Department and Volunteer Firemen were hosts to a public meeting held by the city as well as the regular city council meeting that followed in the department's new building on Highway 67B,

City councilmen agreed to rezone property from residential to commercial to make way for a new business building. The public meeting was held by the City Planning and Zoning Committee after a request to rezone one lot and 18 1/2 feet of an adjacent lot located on Highway 412 and Northwest Colonial Drive from R-1 to R-2.

State Farm Insurance Agent Adam Staples would like to build a new State Farm Insurance building at that intersection but needs the R-2 rating for a commercial business. Following the public meeting, the council voted unanimously to rezone the area to R-2.

The city attorney offered options to the council to try to assist the flying school museum located in College City. City Attorney Larry Steele brought the council up to date on his findings concerning the city's efforts to financially assist the Walnut Ridge Army Flying School Museum and make it possible for the museum to be eligible for much-needed federal and/or state grants.

The museum board had approached the council at last month's meeting with the possibility of the city purchasing the museum building and leaving the current board, with the addition of one councilman, in place.

Steele reported three options to the council. "First, we can do nothing. Second, we can assume full responsibility for the museum with the museum board signing the corporation over to the city. Third, the city could enter into a contract with the museum to help with expenses, and the board would run the museum as they do now; we would just help with expenses."

Alderman Michael Wallin noted that if the city only helps financially, the museum will still not be eligible for grants, and Alderman Ron Smith told the council the only way to receive grants would be for the city to assume full responsibility for the museum.

Mayor Michelle Rogers was concerned that the city taking full control of the museum might not be a good thing in the long run. Alderman Johnnie Fears agreed. "Ten years from now, we might have a new mayor and council who may not be good to the museum," Fears said.

Frank Wilson, who serves on the museum board and the airport commission, told the council he would like to take Steele's findings to the museum board and discuss the options with them.

The council agreed to table the matter till a later date.

Mayor Rogers updated the council on the city's planned holiday activities. She reminded the council that the city employee Christmas dinner will be held Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Gateway Theatre. The dinner will be catered by Parachute Inn. She also told them the Christmas parade will be Dec. 4 at 6 p.m., and Christmas in the Park will open that night.

Support sought for Guard unit

Redda Russell addressed the council about the upcoming deployment of the soldiers at the local Guard armory and the support their families would need. Russell, National Guard Family Support Group Leader, spoke to the council about plans for the soldiers at Robert Armory and their families while they are deployed. "These families will need support from the community and the council," Russell said.

"Over 10 thousand children across the state will be affected by various groups of the National Guard's upcoming deployments during the first half of January 2008. We would like to have the town's assistance in giving the approximate130 men from Robert Armory a great sendoff. Also, the community is planning Christmas baskets for their families and we will need lots of help with that.

"When the troops leave, I will be working closely with their families," Russell said. "An Easter egg hunt for the children is just one of the things I'd like to see the community help with."

Russell also said anyone with ideas to help these families get through the deployments should contact her at 759-1146. She is open to suggestions and needs volunteers and will gladly accept voluntary donations to make things a little easier on the families back home."

In other business:

  • the council voted to place stop signs at the intersection of Hill and Montgomery streets making the intersection a four-way stop. Stop Ahead signs will also be placed on the streets.

  • speed limit signs will also be placed on Miller Drive in College City. The speed limit on that road will now be 40 miles per hour.

  • councilmen voted to renew the annual one mill tax for the Firemen's Pension

  • Walnut Ridge Police Chief John Lamb was asked by the mayor to meet with Sheriff Dan Ellison to discuss plans to stop people from parking illegally in the area around the courthouse on days when court is held.

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