Council approves plat
Hears updates on bridge and water tower projects
GENTRY — City council, on Oct. 1, approved a final plat for phase 1B of the Sunset Ridge subdivision, adopted the 2018 millage rate and discussed what to do about the feral cat situation.
Passed on three readings and with an emergency clause was an ordinance approving the plat for Phase 1B of the Sunset Ridge subdivision. The council approval will enable the developer to begin selling lots and start construction on homes in the second part of the first phase of the development.
Phase 1A was approved in July, so the developer now has city approval for building on approximately 60 lots in the first phase of the development, located on the east edge of the city, on the south side of Arkansas Highway 12.
Passed by the council was a resolution setting the city’s General Fund mills at 5 mills and the fireman’s pension fund at 0.3 mills. The millage amounts remain unchanged from last year, with the exception that the voluntary tax for park improvements was dropped because, Mayor Kevin Johnston said, the city really has no means to collect the taxes and has not received voluntary tax dollars. The resolution has to be passed each year before the county’s November quorum court meeting to receive the city’s portion of property taxes collected within the city.
Johnston told the council that plans for a new Flint Creek bridge on Dawn Hill East Road are being prepared and will soon be put out to bid. He anticipated the bridge will be complete in about one year. It’s scheduled to be complete about this time next year, Johnston said.
He said the city was waiting to hear back from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on grants available for the city’s planned water storage facility near the Benton-Washington Regional Public Water Authority tanks on Y-City Road. He said the city would also explore the possibility of obtaining other grants before it works on financing the remaining balance to build the new water tower to supply the east side of Gentry’s water system, as well as the new Simmons processing plant.
The proposed water tower would be similar to the large water tower in Siloam Springs, said Jerry Martin, an engineer with Garver engineering and design services, with a cement base and an elevated steel tank which would hold enough water for a two- or three-day supply. According to documents supplied by Martin, the tank would hold 2.29 million gallons and would
be supplied with a pump capable of pumping 3.33 million gallons per day. It would have two discharge lines, one to Simmons and the other to the Y-City Zone. He said the tanks and towers have an estimated service life of 75 to 100 years.
With an elevated water storage tank, both the Simmons plant and the rest of the water zone served from a Y-City water meter from the Benton-Washington Regional Public Water Authority could be supplied by gravity flow and without the need for additional pump stations, reducing the long-term costs of operating and maintaining additional pump stations in the system, according to Martin.
The estimated cost of the project will be $11.4 million, according to numbers presented at the September meeting. The city will seek both grant funding and loan funding for the project. The city estimated it would receive 35 percent grant funding and need to obtain 65 percent loan funding.
Also reported by Johnston was being close to an agreement with Northwest Health Services for ambulance services in the city, including having an ambulance stationed in Gentry. He said he hoped to have an agreement ready for approval by the November meeting so that the service can be in place by Jan. 1.
According to information shared at the September council meeting, the ambulance contract would result in considerable per-capita cost savings for Gentry and would include the benefit of having an ambulance housed in the city of Gentry — Gentry is currently served by ambulances housed in Siloam Springs.
The county has been negotiating with Northwest Health System since May to be the sole ambulance provider for the county area covered by Siloam Springs and Gravette. Both cities plan to continue to serve their residents.
The topic of feral cats was raised, with alderman Jim Furgason suggesting the city needs to address the problem as a possible health hazard and possibly draft an ordinance which makes those who feed stray or feral cats somewhat responsible for them.
Alderman Warren “Bud” Norman, who works in animal control for the city of Rogers, said state law already makes those who feed feral cats responsible for them, making it possible for the city to cite them for not abiding by city code in regard to the animals they feed or for which they provide care.
A proposed sign ordinance which had been discussed and prepared by the city’s planning and zoning commission for three years and considered by the council for another two years before being tabled indefinitely will be reconsidered by the council — first allowing the planning commission to review it and make changes and then bringing it back to council committees and possibly, eventually, to the full council for adoption.
Jay Williams, the city’s attorney, said the ordinance should also be reviewed to be sure it complies with a recent Supreme Court ruling which does not allow government entities to discriminate against any signs based on the content of the sign’s message. Sign ordinances need to be content neutral, Williams explained.
Other announcements made at the meeting included:
• Great participation in the Pickin’ Time on 59 event on Sept. 27-29, with parking and traffic being the only notable problems.
• 182 participants in the Chamber of Commerce sponsored Glow Ride on Sept. 29.
• A tree giveaway and fall cleanup scheduled for Oct. 13, with two large dumpsters and trailers for recycling items (including tires and electronics) at the city ballfield on Main Street and at the city recycling lot on the south side of Main Street at Smith Avenue. One hundred trees, purchased through a Walton Family Foundation grant, will be given away to city residents.
• Trick or Treat on Main Street is set for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31.
• A chili supper for $5 per person will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, at the Gentry Senior Activity Center.
Ahrya Reding, a junior, carries the ball while senior Jaydon Jarnagan pulls her flags during the powderpuff football game at Gentry High School on Oct. 3. For story and more photos, see Page A7.