July 22, 2009 Edition

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WR addresses cleanup issues

Gloria Wilkeson
Staff writer

The Walnut Ridge City Council discussed cleaning up the city, mopping out ditches and working on the park at their meeting on July 14.

Mayor Michelle Rogers told the council that following the ice storm, the city cleaned up everything people put out to be picked up by the street department.

"Now people are putting Class IV items such as old mattresses, etc., on the side of streets for us to pick up. They are about to be cited," she said. "We provide dumpsters in the spring and fall for those items, but we don't pick them up year round."

She added that there are some instances where elderly or disabled citizens need help, and that the city makes allowances for them.

Rogers went on to say that following the recent rains, the city has empty lots and yards that need to be mowed. "Some of them have grass that is knee high," she said.

The city's initial fee for mowing a yard or lot that is out of compliance is $45 an hour, and the owner will also receive a fine. The city can put a lien on the property until the owner pays the city what they owe.

The council voted to condemn two houses that are in bad disrepair. Code Enforcement Officer Robert Rice showed pictures of the houses, which are located at 501 Northeast Fourth and 320 West Maple, to the aldermen. One of the buildings had no floor or walls, and the city has been trying to work with the owner since 2007, according to Fire Chief Alan Haskins.

The council agreed there are many other properties that will be dealt with during the coming months.

Rogers told the council that the city has a major problem with debris in ditches all over town. "We will begin mopping them out on a daily basis," she said.

Alderman Michael "Button" Wallin told the council that he had received a call from a lady complaining about rusty water while the fire department was flushing hydrants recently.

"The citizens need to know that we are required to perform the flushing," Wallin said. "We have to do it for safety reasons, we have no choice."

An announcement is placed in the paper for two weeks before the fire department begins the process to let citizens know to be aware their water may be discolored during that period.

Mayor Rogers told the council that the trail expansion at Stewart Park is now finished, and lighting will soon be installed.

Alderwoman Paula Haskins reported that the Forestry Service had informed her that a lot of the trees in the park are hollow inside, and the city would not be able to sell them to loggers if they cut them down to allow more sunlight into the park to help keep it drier after heavy rains.

"They do soak up water which helps dry the park," Haskins said. "They suggested we plant cypress trees as old trees need replaced. They soak up lots of water, and we were also advised to do more ditching to help correct the problem."

In other business, the council:

  • passed an amendment to their water purchase contract with the Northeast Arkansas Public Water Authority.

  • discussed how to begin on the new parking lot areas in the park.

  • agreed to begin repairs on Robin Lane near its intersection with Highway 412 East.

  • was introduced to the city's new attorney, Brent Crews, of Jonesboro.

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