November 16, 2011 Edition

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WR Council approves raises

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Raises for city employees, sewer projects and repairs to Midway Road were discussed at the Walnut Ridge City Council meeting on Nov. 8.

Mayor Don House told the council that he and City Clerk Carolyn Hayes have been working on the city's 2012 budget, and he recommended a three percent raise for all city employees. House pointed out that city employees have not received a general raise in four years.

Alderman Michael "Button" Wallin asked Hayes if she agreed with the mayor's recommendation, and Hays said she did agree the budget would allow for the raise. The council voted unanimously in favor of the raise, which will begin on Jan. 1, 2012. They did, however, vote not to include themselves in the raise.

Mayor House informed the council that a pre-construction hearing had been held concerning the sewer projects along Luther Bridges Road and Midway Road. Construction should begin within two weeks with a completion date set on or before March 31.

"Some grant money was left over due to bids coming in under the projected cost estimate," House said. "There are four houses left on Luther Bridges Road that could not be funded in the first phase of the grant due to cost variables regarding their distance from other houses on the road."

House said he had already approached the grant providers with the idea of using the leftover funds to extend sewer lines to the four residences if they are willing to be hooked up. The providers would make no promises because the expense in doing the extension is $35,000 per residence, but said they would take it under advisement if a letter of request is provided to them.

The council asked that a letter requesting the extensions be submitted, with the approximate total cost of $142,000 to be provided by the funds if possible.

The council asked Mayor House to enter into an agreement with Dickey Tree Service, located next door to the old police building, to purchase the building as is for $4,500. The building is interconnected with the tree service building with ceiling timbers in the two buildings sharing the same wall. In the agreement, the city will retain the air conditioning units for use in the new police department building. The former police department received major damage earlier this year when a truck struck it and ended up inside the building.

Midway Road repairs underway

Midway Road, which divides much of Walnut Ridge and Hoxie, has had major repairs during the past couple of months. The road, already needing repairs, was further damaged during spring flooding.

"The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has paid for the current repairs," House told the council. "Future resurfacing will have to be a shared expense between the two cities. In a recent meeting with Hoxie Mayor Lannie Tinker and paving contractors, it was agreed that paving of the section between Highway 67B and Hope Street will need to await spring before any paving can be done in order to allow the repaired areas to settle."

Until then, the city of Walnut Ridge has agreed to grade the repaired areas twice per week.

In other business, the council:

  • confirmed the re-appointment of Gary Little, vice president of First National Bank, to the City Water and Sewer Works Commission.

  • learned that the Walnut Ridge Christmas parade will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 6 p.m. The council agreed to start the tradition of having a grand marshal each year, someone recognized for their outstanding service and volunteerism for the betterment of others. They chose A.J. Henry as this year's grand marshal.

  • was informed the Appreciation Dinner for all city employees and their families has been set for Dec. 8 at the Lawrence County Community Room, and all employees will receive their annual bonus of $25 to $100, based on their years of service.

  • was told that the police department has begun moving into the new police complex. The facility also houses a council/courtroom, and future city council meetings will be held there. An open house will be held Sunday from 1:30-4 p.m.

  • learned that City Attorney Adam Weeks is completing the paperwork on the annexation of the north side of Midway Road that will be served by the new sewer project.

  • heard an update on the city's airplane they plan to sell. The plane still needs servicing and the registration is still not in order.

  • tabled a request from Judy Turnbull for a resolution for a grant for The Children's Shelter. The grant agency has informed the city that only one grant will be approved for the city this grant cycle, and the grant opportunity had been previously committed for the new police complex.

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