September 20, 2017 Edition

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Walnut Ridge prepares for future

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

With Arkansas State University's decision to move forward on a lease agreement for a disaster training facility in Walnut Ridge, Mayor Charles Snapp said the city is going to get more attention in the future.

"There's a lot of people looking at Walnut Ridge," Snapp said at Monday night's city council meeting. "We have a bright future."

However, with the expected growth of the city comes expected expense. The city's wastewater treatment facility has been a major concern for some time as it has continued to have issues since it was built in 1993.

The pattern of violations and age of the plant will likely result in major capital expenditures. Minimally, the city will have some major expenses in repairing the current plant. However, it has been recommended by City Water Works Manager Jon Kopp to build a new plant that operates more efficiently. A new plant is expected to cost as much as $5 million.

While the wastewater treatment facility is still several years away from being addressed, Snapp said the city is working now to prepare for the expense.

In an attempt to be proactive about the city's finances, Snapp and the city's budget committee supported retiring the debt of four city vehicles at a total cost of about $135,000. Snapp said the interest savings will be beneficial as the city prepares for growth.

The council voted unanimously to pay the remaining debt on a 2016 Ford Explorer and two Ford Taurus police vehicles and a 2016 Freightliner M2-106 sanitation truck.

The council also approved Adam Pratt to sit on the Walnut Ridge Planning Commission, which was recently expanded to seven seats to better serve the growth of the city of Walnut Ridge.

Also at the meeting, City Attorney Nancy Hall gave an update on the 108 Front Street property owned by JR Rogers. The city currently has a lawsuit on file for the abatement of the property due to hazard of collapse on public walkways.

According to the plan presented in court Monday morning, Rogers will attempt to save the facade of the building using metal braces. He was given 60 days to complete the project as presented or must tear down the remaining structure.

Hall said she is optimistic about the project and was pleased by several good faith projects Rogers has done at some of his other properties. Snapp also commented that the work done, especially to the buildings in the high traffic area of Beatles at the Ridge, was greatly appreciated.

In other business, the council approved:

the second reading of the release of a portion of right-of-way at the 300 block of West Poplar.

the unimproved street closings of Maple, from Memorial Drive to half a block past West Seventh; West Eighth, from West Free to Maple; and West Seventh, from Ash to West Free; as well as an internal alley between West Seventh and West Eighth.

the alley closing at Block 90 of Fontaine's Addition, located within Northwest Fourth, Fontaine, Northwest Third and Hill streets.

the first reading of the release of a portion of right-of-way at East Elm from Fourth to Sixth Street.

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