A full house turned out on the first day of July for the Hope City Board meeting. First off was a public hearing to discuss possibly changing the way city board members are elected. Currently the city elects board members from 7 wards and have done that since the settlement of a lawsuit over 20 years ago. In the past few years at least two board members have declined to run for reelection; however no one stepped up in those districts to run. The two members, Doodle Franklin and Don Hall are still serving. Hope Mayor Dennis Ramsey has proposed possibly going to 4 or 5 wards with 2 or 3 board members elected at large. City G.I.S. Coordinator Darrell Allen showed several possibilities with 4 and 5 wards and also offered demographic breakdowns. There were comments both in favor and against going to the ward/at-large method. Mayor Ramsey stressed that the idea behind the proposals is to get more people involved in city government. Several people have expressed interest in serving on the city board but will not run against their incumbent director. This would allow some of those people to run and serve. Those speaking at the meeting included Jeff Maneth, Chester Pree, Hazel Simpson, George Straughter, Mark Ross, Danny Watson, and Alvin Hunter. No action was taken but the next possible step could be setting up a referendum to allow the voters of the city of Hope to decide on any changes.
The board voted to accept the only bid offered on repairs to the fire-damaged North Side Park Community Center. The board accepted a bid of $104,620 from S.N.S. Construction. This was almost $55,000 more than was expected. There was discussion on the matter and architect Clint Bailey estimated the cost of tearing down the current building and starting from the ground up on the 40 foot by 100 building to be $350,000. There was discussion on spending $100,000 on a 60 year old building but the board voted unanimously to authorize the work.
Concrete bids were accepted at the meeting. The board voted to accept the only bid submitted from Smith Ready Mix. The bids were broken down into 5 categories. City Manager Catherine Cook noted the bid was slightly higher this year than in 2013.
In the city manager’s report Catherine Cook noted the new fire truck had been delivered and was on display in the city hall parking lot. She also noted the next city-wide clean-up to prepare for the watermelon festival is schedule for July 26th. The board also asked Don Still to give a report on the First United Methodist “Spirit of Hope” celebration set for July 4th. He noted it begins at 7pm and will end after dark with a profession fireworks show. The event is free.