The Hope City Board tackled a number of issues in an hour-long meeting Tuesday (8-19). The first action taken was a positive vote to allow the Hope Police Department to apply for $6,500 in grant funds from the Arkansas State Police Assets Forfeiture Fund. The money would be 100% grant funds with no match. The police plan to use the money to outfit a new car next year for their K-9 officer.
The board said “yes” to a resolution showing support for a regional effort towards getting a proposed state prison to southwest Arkansas. State Senator Jimmy Hickey has suggested the proposed prison be built between Hope and Texarkana but is mindful wherever it goes in the region it will benefit the entire region. Efforts are underway by Senator Hickey to coordinate with Hempstead, Miller, Little River, Nevada, and Howard counties in seeking the project which would initially employ 250 and eventually could employ 500.
A vacancy on the tourism commission was not filled at the meeting despite the board meeting for a few minutes in executive session. Mayor Dennis Ramsey said an appointment will be deferred until another meeting. Lavonne Jordan recently left the commission after serving several years.
During the City Manager’s report Catherine Cook noted the Northside Park Community Center work is progressing well. She also noted a demonstration for an “automatic” solid waste system was scheduled for Wednesday (9-20) morning at City Hall at 9:15am. Possibly the most serious item in her report was a report on a train derailment recently on the city rail spur south of highway 32. Catherine Cook noted several city employees have worked several days on moving loaded cars and getting the spur back into operation. Cook says the spur needs some repair work and the city has been quoted anywhere from $19,000 to $147,000 for the work. She says further evaluation will be done on what the work will cost and industries that use the spur including Georgia Pacific, New Millenium, and Momentive will be pro-rated for their share of the repair. Cook says she is working to schedule a meeting with all the affected industries. Another matter on the city manager’s report was the report of a purchase of an engine for the mosquito sprayer. This will be delivered Thursday and installed and the mosquito truck will be back out 4 nights a week. The cost for the engine is $3,000. Cook also reported Hope Water & Light wants the fire department to particpate in a training exercise on a house across from the airport on Water & Light property. Chief Dale Glanton says several volunteer departments will also participate. Finally, Cook noted the Economic Development Administration has not approved the $1.79 million dollar grant request for the economic development project for Magnolia Development LLC on highway 29 north but the EDA has communicated that it is going through the steps on the matter and information on their efforts will be posted at the library. It is hoped the city will know something by October. It was noted Code Enforcement office Scott Bittle has left the city to work at UACCH and his position is being advertised. In the meantime city employees are inspecting plumbing projects while a retired Hope Water & Light master electrician is handling electrical inspections. Also the city urban deer hunt for this year has been approved by acclamation.
Under citizens requests Alice May Flenory noted she had picked up a petition for the Ward 1 seat on the city board and had gotten her required signatures only to learn she was not in the city limits. Flenory protested that she was not informed sooner and indicated her intentions to look into the matter further.
The meeting adjourned after it was indicated the question of whether to change the city board elections from 7 individual zones to 5 zones and 2 “at large” will probalby not be on the ballot in November.