January 14, 2015 Edition
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Chris Jones has recently taken office as Imboden mayor and hopes to continue on the path set by previous administrations. He said citizens shouldn't expect any big changes overnight, but he will work to keep the city running smoothly and prepare it for future growth.
Chris Jones began his first term as Imboden mayor on Jan. 2 and is ready to continue to achieve the goals set by the previous administration.
Jones commended previous mayor Gene Dearen and those on the city council for taking a proactive approach to water, sewer and street maintenance.
In the 1990s, there was a push to upgrade the water/sewer infrastructure. "We're fortunate they had the vision to take care of it before problems occurred," Jones said.
Some water/sewer maintenance will be needed in the near future including painting and improving the exterior of the water tank installed in the late '90s. Jones said the city is working toward acquiring state aid for this project and will continue to work to maintain and keep the infrastructure up to date.
State aid has also been applied for to complete the paving project the city has been working toward completing. Jones, who was street superintendant when the project started, said the project has been done through local funds collected through a sales tax and state aid.
The paving project was launched with the intent to overlay all Imboden streets with two inches of asphalt, widen all streets that could be to 20 feet and improve drainage on the streets.
Jones said there are about 25 percent of streets left to finish the project, and he expects to have that completed within the next two years.
Overall, Jones said citizens shouldn't expect any big changes in the immediate future but change will be coming with area advancements such as Peco Foods being built and the Highway 67 and Highway 412 four-lane tie-in.
He said he feels Imboden is in a good spot for both commercial and residential growth but it won't happen overnight. However, he expects some changes to occur in the next five to 10 years.
Jones said his priority for Imboden is to keep it running smoothly and trust the city leaders and council members who have come before him.
"The council members have always been good stewards of the city's finances," he said. "Three of the council members have been serving for over 30 years. I trust them to keep me in check."
Even though Jones has worked in virtually every department within the city and understands the city's infrastructures from multiple angles, he said he was hesitant to run for mayor when Dearen announced he wasn't seeking re-election. However, after speaking with family, citizens and Dearen, he decided that he didn't need to wait. "They assured me I was ready," he said.
In addition to serving as mayor, Jones is a captain at both the Imboden Volunteer Fire Department and the Walnut Ridge Fire Department. He also serves on the Sloan-Hendrix School Board and holds a governor-appointed position with the Arkansas Fire Protection Services Board.