December 21, 2016 Edition

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District Judge Adam Weeks (from left) swore in Alderman Angie Abbott at Monday night's Walnut Ridge City Council meeting. Aldermen Wendell Jones, Rob Combs and Everett Hart look on as Abbott signs her oath of office.
TD Photo ~ Megan Heyl

WR council fills vacant seat

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Following the death of Alderman Daniel Abbott, the council was tasked with filling the vacant seat, including the 2017-18 term Abbott won in the November election.

At Monday night's meeting, Angie Abbott and Trent Kirksey spoke to the council about their plans should they be selected to fill the seat.

Angie, Daniel's wife of 30 years, was appointed by the council following an executive session. Alderman Jon Walter made the motion, which was seconded by Alderman Robert Combs. The motion carried 6-1 with Alderman Jeff Taylor casting the nay vote.

Angie said she would be steadfast in her role as alderman and would be fair and inclusive while serving Walnut Ridge.

The council encouraged Kirksey to continue to run, and they expect a promising future for him.

"We're lucky to have two people who are immensely qualified for different reasons," Combs said. He added that the council is in need of female representation, as well as representation from a younger generation, and it was nice to see that in looking at candidates to fill the vacancy.

District Judge Adam Weeks swore Angie in following the vote, and Angie took her seat as alderman for the remainder of the meeting.

Angie said that the city council meetings were one of the most important things in Daniel's life, and she has full intentions of continuing to run at the end of her term.

"I am strongly committed to this community," Angie said.

2017 Budget

The council went on to approve the 2017 budget. While in good financial shape, the city is working with a smaller reserve after the Fire Fee Refund Account was created.

Mayor Charles Snapp said this might delay some projects that were set for 2017, including implementation of regulation rolling garbage cans. Snapp added that the new receptacles, which would save man-hours for the sanitation department, are still a priority and would be implemented as soon as possible.

The budget does include an average of a 50-cent raise for city employees.

Snapp added that while the city won't be able to fund street overlays the way it did in 2016, a grant might become available in January that would provide $250,000 in paving.

Ritter service
brought to vote

Ritter Vice President of External Affairs John Strode attended Monday's meeting where the council conducted the first of three readings on an ordinance authorizing Ritter Cable Corp. to offer video service to Walnut Ridge businesses.

Strode said this is strictly a business service and there is no residential expansion planned at this time.

Ritter would uphold the city's standard five percent franchise fee on gross revenues received from subscribers.

Strode said Ritter will offer similar packages and rates to what's available in Walnut Ridge currently but their inclusion would provide some competition in the market.

City Attorney Nancy Hall will seek opinions on entering this contract with Ritter and if it would affect the existing contract with Suddenlink.

In other business:

Hall gave an update on the lawsuit filed by Wanda Thornton and Louise Sifford regarding property the city condemned. Hall, Snapp and Fire Chief Frank Owens met with the Municipal League and received confirmation that the city's condemnation policy is sound and may continue to be used. The suit is expected to reach a resolution in the first half of 2017, according to Hall.

Twin City Development was granted the rezoning of property at 522 NE 3rd, half a block, to R2 to allow the building of two duplexes. The existing home on the property will be remodeled. The business hopes to find a congregation in need of a building as the property also includes a church in good condition.

the council appointed Ron "Punk" Woods to the Planning Commission for a five-year term. He will fill the seat left by Mike Shelton who took Snapp's seat when he became mayor. Shelton was unable to continue to serve due to conflicts during farming season.

aldermen re-appointed Bill Wilcoxson to the Water Board for a five-year term.

Snapp presented a plaque for his service to Jeff Taylor, who did not run for alderman in the 2016 election. He also presented a plaque in honor of Daniel Abbott to Angie.

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