November 29, 2017 Edition

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WR sewer upgrade
committee established

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp formed a committee at the Nov. 20 City Council meeting to review methods to offset the expense of a new wastewater plant, which is estimated to cost as much as $5 million.

Last year, City Water Works Manager Jon Kopp recommended the council be prepared to build a new plant. He stated that the current one is outdated and has had problems since it became operational in 1994. He added that the treatment used by the current plant is not ideal as it is more costly than other methods.

Based on numbers by Crist Engineers, if the city were to take out a loan for the $5 million and pass the cost of its annual loan payment to the citizens, monthly water bills would go up an average of $8.05.

The committee will evaluate other methods to fund the plant as well as ways to reduce other fees on the water bill, to offset any plant expenditures that may be passed along to the citizens.

Kopp, Fire Chief Frank Owens and council members Jon Walter, Angie Abbott and Steven Benesch will sit on the committee.

Also at the meeting, the council authorized Snapp to send letters to industries using the high pressure water system at the airport industrial park. The letter will state that the city is considering shutting down the outdated system and having industries install water pumps based on their own needs.

This would prevent the city from having to bring the system up to code, which is estimated to cost nearly $2 million. Additionally, it would put the responsibility of the installation and upkeep of these pumps on the industries using them rather than them being maintained through funds collected from everyone on city water.

Snapp said the potable water supply is more than adequate to serve the new pumps and valves are already in place to feed them. He added that based on the city's research, Walnut Ridge is the only city in the state maintaining a high pressure water system.

City expects major
2018 asphalt project

The council also reviewed the proposed 2018 budget. With the addition of a $160,000 grant, the city is looking to have $410,000 total available for overlay on city streets. Snapp said 2018 will see the largest asphalt project the current administration has found in the history of Walnut Ridge.

In other business, the council:

appointed Ryan Cooper to serve as city prosecutor in 2018.

appointed Gary Kearby to serve another term on the airport commission.

approved an ordinance updating the zoning code with a new dwelling parking standard requiring materials used for new residential parking spaces to be concrete or asphalt.

approved the rezoning of just over 1.5 acres of land southwest of the Highway 91 and 63 intersection from agricultural to commercial. Snapp stated that Anderson Propane plans to construct a distribution point on the property.

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