April 21, 2010 Edition

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WR Council adopts
emergency manual

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Walnut Ridge city councilmen adopted an emergency manual, condemned a house on Fourth Street and discussed ways to improve the appearance of the town and entryways from the bypasses at their meeting on April 13.

A City Emergency Operations Manual was adopted as required by the Department of Emergency Management.

"We used the one the county has as an example," Fire Chief Alan Haskins told the council. "All city department heads, the mayor, Department of Emergency Management and all emergency personnel will have a copy of it. We have to have a procedure in place in the event of a natural disaster such as an ice storm, tornado or earthquake or in the event of a terrorist attack or the outbreak of an epidemic disease."

Haskins also said the city will need to form a committee to review and oversee the manual and update or make any needed changes in the future. The mayor will be in charge of the committee and members of the fire committee and all department heads are also to be included.

Code Enforcement Officer Robert Rice told the council a house located at 501B Northeast Fourth Street needs to be condemned. Rice said he had been communicating with the owner, Leroy Johnson of Jonesboro, since October of last year. Johnson has now asked his attorney to work with the city.

His attorney told Rice the house is beyond repair and the city needs to tear it down or do whatever they need to do with it.

City Attorney Brent Crews told the council the city can place a lien on the property or file a lawsuit against the owner in order to collect the money they would pay to tear down and remove the building.

The council voted unanimously in favor of condemning the property.

Chief Haskins said it would cost the city between $3,000-$5,000 to demolish the house and haul it to the landfill in Paragould.

Alderman Wendell Jones said, "We can advertise for bids and hire someone to do the work, and then we will need to file suit against the owner to reimburse the city."

Jones added that the city might lose some money by taking this action, but he said, "We've got to clean this town up."

This is not the only property that has been condemned, but many others that the city has yet to dispose of are still standing. The owners of a large portion of the properties are hard to find and some have yet to be located, despite the city's extensive efforts.

Alderman Michael "Button" Wallin told the council that the city has received the permits needed to begin work on the Highway 412/67/63 interchange areas. Plans are underway to mow the areas and plant some trees, flowers and shrubs to make them more attractive.

"Those areas are the first thing people see when they come to town, and we would like them to look nice, something like Jonesboro has done," Wallin said.

Volunteer work would be a great way to help kick off the project, Wallin said. Once all the work is done, the city will be responsible for maintaining the areas.

The council was presented with a list of city streets that are in need of repairs. Street Superintendent Jim Poindexter estimated the cost of paving the streets on the list at between $187,998 and $171,960.

"This is just an estimate," Poindexter stressed. "It doesn't include screening costs, and there are other variables."

Streets on the list include but are not limited to West Elm, Carolina, several portions of Robin Lane, Tennessee Avenue, West Poplar, Tennessee Street, Circle Drive, Azalea, Southwest Sixth, Southeast Second and Kentucky.

"We'll do as much work as we can afford," Poindexter said.

In other business, the council:

  • learned the city is accepting bids for mosquito control chemicals.

  • discussed plans being worked on by the Beautification Committee.

  • was informed the city has applied for an ISO Class III rating, and inspectors should be here by the end of April or first of May.

  • agreed to fine contractors who cut city streets and do not repair them properly.

  • asked two 4-H members to come back next month with more information and finalized plans for the fund-raiser they hope to hold in the near future.

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