December 21, 2011 Edition

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Gearhart addresses Hoxie Council

Leslie Ginn
Staff Writer

Wayne Gearhart, director of the Intermodal Authority, visited with the Hoxie City Council on Dec. 13 to encourage the city of Hoxie to continue as a contributing member of the Intermodal Authority for the next year. The annual price of membership for Hoxie in 2012 is $11,428.

"What I want to emphasize is that we need to stay together to work as a region to be successful in this endeavor," said Gearhart. "The money donated by each of the communities involved in the Authority allows us to qualify for large grants that demand matching funds. Eventually the goal is for the Authority to be self-sustaining."

The Intermodal Authority is a regional effort to establish industrial sites that draw businesses to the area. There are a total of four sites in the region that are presently being developed.

One of the sites is located just outside the border of Hoxie in Walnut Ridge. This site has the potential for access to two major railroads. Presently a company proposing 153 jobs that manufactures railroad ties is investigating this site. A required $10,000 environmental assessment of this site has just been concluded.

Hoxie has three members on the Intermodal Authority Board. They are John Holt, Stanley Schmidt and Don King. Holt made the comment, "I believe it is important for Hoxie to remain a part of the Intermodal Authority. It is for the overall benefit of our community."

"This venture is not a sprint, but a marathon. It will take time to be successful." Gearhart concluded, "Overall, I am optimistic. I feel we are continuing to move forward."

A vote on approving the dues to the Intermodal Authority was postponed until a special budget approval meeting is held later this month or early January.

Sewer pipes cause concern

Hoxie Mayor Lanny Tinker commented that the city has some expensive and serious issues regarding the sewer pipes to consider.

Tinker said, "We have some major cracks in our concrete pipes that are causing some to collapse. So far there is one on Affinity Street and one outside the Baptist Church."

Investigation will be conducted through smoke tests run by Arkansas Rural Water early in 2012. The smoke tests will identify sewer defects and other issues. Research into grants or financial support to fund repairs is also planned.

"The upkeep and maintenance of piping has not been addressed in recent years. It will take time to see how much the cost is to address this issue," said Tinker.

A request was received by the Hoxie Re-use Committee from Andrew Allen. Allen desires that his residence be removed as collateral on the Save-A-Lot grocery store loan.

This action, if approved, would leave Wayne Black as the sole responsible party. Since the store began operation, Save-A-Lot has paid a total of $100,000 down on the $635,000 loan. The store is reported to be doing better than anticipated and has a $3,000 per month loan payment.

It was decided that Black and Allen would pay for a licensed appraisal of property. If the appraisal totals at least $500,000, which is 80 percent of the loan, then Hoxie would approve Allen's request. This decision is in compliance with the recommendation of the Hoxie Re-Use Committee.

In other business:

  • the Hoxie Police Department was commended on having 151 felony and misdemeanor drug arrests so far in 2011.

  • it was reported that the water usage from the Northeast Arkansas Water Authority since beginning on Nov. 23 has been within projected budgeted usage.

  • it was announced that on Dec. 9, Hoxie Fire Chief Mark VanBrook awarded medical fire responder accreditations to Dean Cross, Rob Needham, Tommy Kingsland, Tony Wheeler, Shelia Mason, Dewayne Barnes and Brandie Davis. VanBrook also awarded certificates of commendation to Needham, Cassie Sapp, Will Tate and Billy Blair.

  • the success of the recent Dickens in the Park Christmas celebration was discussed.

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