WR Council condemns building

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

After receiving correspondence from the State of Arkansas Department of Workforce Services concerning a deteriorating building adjacent to their office in Walnut Ridge, the city council voted last week to condemn the building, which is located at 116 East Elm Street.

A letter from the Department of Workforce states that many of the exterior bricks have fallen from the building, exposing the interior walls and posing a health hazard both to the citizens of Walnut Ridge and to the Workforce staff. It goes on to say that bricks are constantly falling around and on top of their building, as well as on their parking lot where both staff and customers park their vehicles daily. The letter informs the city that on several occasions, the homeless and various kinds of animals have sought shelter in the building for extended periods of time.

The letter concludes by saying the building is very unsightly for the city and Workforce Services would like the city's assistance in condemning and removing the building.

The problem is serious enough that it could cause the agency to close its office in Walnut Ridge.

J. R. Rogers, owner of the building, notified the city that he plans to repair the building, but the city wanted to be proactive, according to City Attorney Adam Weeks.

At their meeting on Nov. 12, the council voted to condemn the building. Aldermen Michael "Button" Wallin and Alderman Jeff Taylor voted against taking that action at this time.

However, Weeks has been directed by the city council to follow city ordinances and start the condemnation process. The process begins with a condemnation notice notifying Rogers that he will have 90 days to bring the building up to code. Should he fail to do so, he will face a $500 fine and a $50 a day fine until the building is repaired or removed.

Upon receipt of the notice, Rogers will have 10 days to respond and then 20 days to obtain a work permit.

After 14 years in office, City Recorder/Treasurer Carolyn Hayes has informed the mayor and city council that she will be retiring at the end of the year, due to health reasons. With another year left in her term in office, the council will appoint someone to replace her from Jan. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31, 2014.

The city recorder/treasurer is an elected position and will be filled during the November 2014 municipal elections.

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