Coun­cil ap­proves plat

Hears up­dates on bridge and wa­ter tower projects

Westside Eagle-Observer - - FRONT PAGE - RANDY MOLL rmoll@nwadg.com

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.

West­side Ea­gle Ob­server/RANDY MOLL

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.

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