August 18, 2010 Edition

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WR Council considers golf
course, names interim fire chief

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Walnut Ridge may have a municipal golf course in the near future, a course that would be located near the country club but outside the airport's mandated safety zones, as plans by the council move forward. An interim fire chief was also named and a property condemned at the Aug. 10 meeting.

"With the Intermodal Authority and the town wanting new industry to locate in this area, we need a golf course and we need to get it done," Alderman Michael "Button" Wallin said.

Mayor Michelle Rogers told the council that the city will have to lease the property from the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport, have it approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and sign an agreement with the airport commission.

"We have to show in writing how a golf course would be beneficial to the airport," Rogers said. "Anything placed on airport property has to be of benefit to the airport."

Wallin shared with the council new information he had gathered following their special meeting last week.

"I think we can put a course together at minimal cost," Wallin told the council.

"People are willing to help us with this undertaking," he said. "We have three farmers who have offered to donate their time and use of their farm equipment, and David Fender of Five Rivers Sod Farm will loan us equipment to take the grass off the greens that have to be moved and to lay the sod."

Wallin said that one of the farmers who has volunteered his help said he helped build the golf course the first time and now he'll do it a second time.

"We are estimating a cost of $350 to $400 per green for re-sodding, depending on the size of the green, and I already have donations for four out of six greens. I'm asking for donations of $600 per green because we'll have to pay someone to do the actual work," Wallin explained.

Alderman Spencer Ponder noted that the council would have to work out the details of maintaining the course once it's built.

"This will be a new beginning for our community," Ponder said.

The possibility of subcontracting maintenance was briefly discussed, as well as the need for a special machine for mowing that will need to be rented or purchased.

Wallin asked that the council get the necessary paperwork underway, and members agreed to keep the existing greens watered and mowed.

Interim fire chief appointed

Frank Owens has been appointed interim fire chief, following the resignation of former chief Alan Haskins. Owens has been with the Walnut Ridge Fire Department since 1999 and has worked in fire service since 1993. He and his wife, Brandi, and their four-month-old son, Max, live in Walnut Ridge. He is the son of Richard and Carol Owen and attended Hoxie High School.

"The Walnut Ridge Fire Department will continue to help the city in any way it can, and we will continue to work to improve the department," Owens said.

In other business, the council:

  • condemned property at 320 West Maple Street, owned by Imogene Barnes, and learned that two other recently condemned houses are about to be demolished by RBS Excavating of Hoxie.

  • heard a request from Darrell Blalock to close an abandoned alley that runs between two properties he owns in the Old Pocahontas Road area. City attorney Brent Crews was instructed to check the legalities of the city granting his request.

  • Oscar Gray's attorney requested that Gray be allowed to tie into the city's sewer line when he builds his house north of Midway Road. Mayor Rogers told him he would probably just need a building permit, but agreed to speak with Water Superintendent Lester Herring to see if anything more would be required of Gray.

  • voted to place 25-mile-per-hour speed limit signs on North Swan Street and Northeast Second as requested by residents who live on those streets.

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