February 19, 2014 Edition

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Weather causes strain
on Hoxie water system

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Freezing temperatures have caused a strain on Hoxie's water system according to Mayor Lanny Tinker.

"Our cost of water from regional water has dramatically increased in the past couple of months," Tinker reported at the Hoxie City Council meeting Tuesday.

In addition to rising cost, usage has also increased due to the recent weather. Changing temperatures in the soil have caused pressure on the pipes leading to breaks.

"This cold weather has been here so long that the cold temperature is just getting deeper into the ground and it could cause some serious problems," Councilman Rick Mayland said.

Crewmen have been working seven days a week when necessary to repair leaks.

"I'm proud of our staff for getting these repairs done as quickly as they have been," Tinker said.

However, expenses from the lost water will cost the city. In addition to lost water from the leaks, the city also has to open nearby hydrants to clear the pipes during the repairs. "Every time we do that, it's just money in the ditch," Tinker said.

Concerns were also expressed about the city's outdated water meters not being able to accurately measure the low flow of water passing through them. Tinker said a majority of the officials he has spoken to suspect some of the unaccounted water to be from residents running their taps on low to prevent freezing pipes.

"If this is the case, we will look into accelerating the water meter replacements," Tinker said.

Four meters were taken for testing and all failed to register low flow water usage. Additional testing is scheduled to be done. Two hundred of the 1,200 water meters within the city have been replaced in the past few months and plans were in place to continue gradual replacements.

In an effort to increase the speed at which replacements will be made, Tinker requested the council's approval to look into using job stimulus money to replace meters at low to moderate income homes. Adjustments would have to be made on current rules regarding the fund, but Tinker said he has been informed that it is possible.

The council made a motion to allow the mayor to proceed and Tinker said he hopes to have more to report at the next meeting.

Also at the meeting, Sedgwick Law Officer Ezra Pierce approached the council with questions regarding why Hoxie will no longer allow his department to use its radio frequency.

Police Chief Glen Smith said he and the mayor made a joint decision to no longer provide service to Sedgwick, Alicia and Ravenden due to liability concerns. Smith said Hoxie has a single radio operator and he was worried that if too many calls came in at once it could cause a failure to respond.

"If something were to happen to you and we didn't respond that could come back on the city," Smith said to Pierce. "It's nothing against your work, I'm just trying to watch out for Hoxie."

Councilman Larry Couch said, "I can understand one operator being overloaded if they are trying to take care of three or four different departments."

The Sedgwick Police Department has been on Hoxie's radio frequency for 15 years. Pierce stated that the county's prices were too high for the department to afford.

"It's put the police department out of business down there," Pierce said.

The mayor acknowledged Pierce's concerns and said their main concern was for the citizens of Hoxie.

Also at the meeting:

  • recently hired Assistant Fire Chief Chris Ditto spoke with the council about his plans for the fire department. Ditto has been working to obtain grant money to pay for many department expenses and keep costs lower for the city.

    Ditto has 15 years experience in fire service and has lived in Hoxie most of his life. He said that any questions, concerns or complaints could be brought to his attention at any time. "I'm always here; I'm on call 24/7."

  • Tinker announced that replacement pumps for sewer station 1, Liscomb Street, and sewer station 2, Southwest Harding Street, have been ordered. Weather conditions have delayed construction but Kajacs Contractors Inc. of North Little Rock will be on site as soon as weather permits.

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