February 17, 2010 Edition

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WR Council votes for
beautification, website

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge City Council voted to hire a webmaster to set up and maintain a website for the city. They also agreed to apply for permission to cleanup and maintain bypass interchange areas at Highway 412 and Highway 63.

Alderwoman Paula Haskins recommended Lisa Williams for the job of creating a website for Walnut Ridge.

"She will receive $1,450 for the first 12 months of the job," Haskins said. "She will establish the site, take pictures of and include information about our schools, Williams Baptist College and Lawrence Memorial Hospital, etc."

Haskins said that minutes from city council meetings could be added to the site, as well as an events page and possibly a contact number for Williams if someone has news to add to the site.

"She will be paid $1,000 a year to maintain the site after the first year," Haskins said. "She will give the council a chance to see the website before she puts it up."

Alderman Wendell Jones made a motion that the city hire Williams with a contract, and make sure the council is satisfied with her work before she is paid. The motion carried unanimously.

Improving the appearance of the city was the next topic of conversation.

"We have two bypass interchanges coming into Walnut Ridge that are eyesores," Alderman Michael "Button" Wallin told the council. "Cleaning them up would improve the appearance of the town greatly."

The east side of the bypass system at the Highway 412/67 interchance going towards Paragould is a swampy area and will have to be drained to a certain point regardless of whether the city agrees to clean up the two areas, according to Wallin. The other area is at the Highway 63 interchange with Highway 67.

Wallin said he had met with Walter McMillan, district engineer with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, and has received applications to request the city be allowed to mow, cut unwanted shrubs and trees and clean up the two areas. The initial work would be done by volunteers, and the city would maintain the areas thereafter.

"It will take a lot of work to accomplish the initial cleanup," Wallin said. "The east side of the overpass on Highway 412 is considered a wetland, so it will be difficult to deal with. Cypress and oak trees are planted there now to help keep the water level down."

He said that improvements in that area would also be beneficial in controlling the mosquito population, and that there may be some assistance available from the state's wildflower program through the highway department. Wildflowers and/or other decorations that would help smother out weeds would also make the areas more eye appealing. Ideas for improvements are just speculation until the applications have been approved and other possibilities explored.

Wallin added that Walnut Ridge Airport Manager Mitch Whitmire has offered to loan the city the airport's big bush hog during the beginning of the cleanup, but eventually the city would need to purchase one of its own.

The council voted to file the applications.

In other business:

  • the council voted to renew the annual one-mill tax for the firefighters' pension.

  • discussed paving to be done this year. Robin Lane and Camie Drive were two streets that are badly in need of repairs, and Street Superintendent Jim Poindexter is checking other areas as well. Mayor Michelle Rogers told the council that the city has filled a few potholes as weather has permitted, but that some of the places are beyond patching and will have to be paved.

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