February 19, 2014 Edition

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Council approves commissioner

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge City Council approved the appointment of Dr. Brett Cooper of Williams Baptist College to the Walnut Ridge Airport Commission at their meeting on Feb. 11. Cooper, who is vice president for institutional advancement at WBC, had provided the council with a resume so they would have an idea of his qualifications.

Alderman Ed Lawson said he appreciated Cooper's resume because it gave the council more input about him before they approved his appointment.

With a second seat on the commission still vacant, Mayor Don House recommended Greg Gill, a farmer and Walnut Ridge resident, to fill the position. The airport oversees between 800 and 900 acres of farmland, and the mayor and the commission believes someone with farming experience and knowledge about the new Farm Bill would be an asset to their board, according to House.

Alderman Michael "Button" Wallin asked Alderman Jeff Taylor why he objected to reappointing Sam Massey to the commission.

"We need aggressive people, people who know how to get things done and know a lot about the airport," Wallin said. "Sam has served on the commission for the past 10 years and we need someone with his experience and know-how."

Alderman Taylor replied that Massey was serving on the commission during the time the airport and golf club were going through their lawsuit.

"That situation divided the town, and grudges are still held," Taylor said. "It's nothing personal against Massey," Taylor added. "I just think if we appoint new commissioners who weren't serving during the lawsuit, it might help heal grudges and hard feelings."

Mayor House told the council that the city needs to move forward and won't do it by going into problems of the past.

Gill's appointment was tabled, and several councilmen agreed they would like to have more information about his qualifications before they voted. Alderman Wendell Jones voted against tabling the nomination.

Mayor House presented councilmen with a printed copy of his 2014 State of the City Report, which highlighted many achievements during the past year and the potential for growth and more improvements in the coming year.

The council received an update from City Attorney Adam Weeks about the property adjacent to the Workforce Center at 116 West Elm. The council voted several weeks ago to condemn the building because it is a danger to citizens and Workforce employees, as well as their vehicles.

"J.R. Rogers (owner of the building) has hired an attorney, and I have had a couple of positive meetings with him," Weeks said. "I am encouraged by our discussions." Weeks also told the council he would talk with them before he took any legal action should it become necessary.

In other business:

  • Alderman Jones suggested that the city increase pay for Atty. Weeks as he is putting in more hours than he agreed to when he was hired. That issue will be discussed further at next month's meeting.

  • Councilmen agreed to provide equipment to assist the Chamber of Commerce and the Community Revitalization and Beautification Committee in their efforts to clean up the city and surrounding areas. The city will also provide financial support if state auditors approve.

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