Board bids farewell to Smith, John­son and Beers

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Hunter McFer­rin Staff Writer hm­c­fer­[email protected]

The city board con­vened for its fi­nal meet­ing of the year on Tues­day at the Siloam Springs Pub­lic Li­brary.

Two items re­quir­ing ac­tion were on the night’s agenda, both were unan­i­mously ap­proved. The first was to con­firm the reap­point­ment of Jim Krall to serve an­other term on the Re­gional Air­port Author­ity Board of Direc­tors.

The other item for the board’s con­sid­er­a­tion was the ap­proval of a guar­an­teed max­i­mum price for ren­o­va­tions that are un­der­way for Fire Sta­tion No. 2. The board ap­proved CR Craw­ford Con­struc­tion to over­see the project dur­ing their April 17 meet­ing and the guar­an­teed max­i­mum price that was ap­proved was $1.6 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a city staff re­port.

These things aside, it was a Christmas-themed, up­beat meet­ing, with many board

mem­bers sport­ing ugly-Christmas sweaters and a meal was pro­vided af­ter­wards. This was also the last meet­ing for Ward 1 Di­rec­tor Steve Beers, Ward 3 Di­rec­tor Frank John­son and Ward 4 Di­rec­tor Amy Smith, who will be re­placed at the be­gin­ning of next month by in­com­ing mem­bers Mindy Hunt, Marla Sap­ping­ton and Lesa Brosch, re­spec­tively.

City Ad­min­is­tra­tor Phillip Pat­ter­son de­liv­ered his ad­min­is­tra­tor’s re­port fol­low­ing the board’s reg­u­larly sched­uled agenda items, which in­cluded an up­date on the city’s Oc­to­ber fi­nances and a re­minder that de­clin­ing sales tax rev­enues should re­turn to nor­mal amounts in Jan­uary once the city be­gins col­lect­ing two per­cent on trans­ac­tions again, in­stead of 13/8 per­cent. Pat­ter­son also pre­pared a re­port that de­tailed things that the city, across all de­part­ments, has achieved or im­proved upon in 2018. Pat­ter­son pro­vided the doc­u­ment to the Her­ald-Leader on Dec. 19, some of the high­lights are:

• The “Wa­ter Re­use” project at the wastew­a­ter treat­ment plant has al­lowed the city to save 99.8 per­cent on the wa­ter bill. The wa­ter bill in 2017 was $175,582 and this num­ber fell to $356 in 2018.

• The city is re­cy­cling at a higher rate, with a 6 per­cent in­crease from 2017, or 73 tons.

• Work or­ders for the main­te­nance of city equip­ment have de­creased by six per­cent and re­pair costs have de­creased by 15 per­cent, or $31,000.

• More than 6,300 feet of wa­ter mains and 640 feet of wastew­a­ter mains were either re­placed or ex­tended over the year.

• Prop­erty main­te­nance code vi­o­la­tions are up 24 per­cent, from 1,319 in 2017 to 1,641 in 2018.

• Court fines have in­creased by 27 per­cent, or $55,000, when com­pared to last year.

• City em­ploy­ees par­tic­i­pated in the “Walk­to­ber” pro­gram ear­lier this year, and the win­ner walked more than 460,000 steps in a month. In to­tal, par­tic­i­pat­ing city em­ploy­ees walked about 1,300 miles. The city also had a “Big­gest Loser Con­test” to en­cour­age healthy life­styles among city em­ploy­ees, where a to­tal of 324 pounds were lost by 58 par­tic­i­pants.

• Re­pairs were done on a to­tal of 480 street lights.

• New elec­tri­cal ser­vices for 150 dif­fer­ent busi­nesses and en­ti­ties were in­stalled.

• City work­ers spent more than 4,000 hours trim­ming trees back from elec­tri­cal lines.

• The fire depart­ment fought 70 fires and 97 per­cent of prop­erty and build­ing con­tents were re­cov­ered, which equated to more than $7.75 mil­lion worth of prop­erty.

• Train­ing hours at the fire depart­ment in­creased 21 per­cent, av­er­ag­ing 569 hours per per­son.

• The “crime clear­ance rate,” which is per­cent­age of crimes solved by the po­lice depart­ment, was 81.5 per­cent for the year; the na­tional av­er­age is 34.5 per­cent.

• Drug-re­lated ar­rests in­creased by 45 per­cent.

• Re­ports of stolen prop­erty de­creased by 48 per­cent, re­ports of van­dal­ism and/or crim­i­nal mis­chief de­creased by 38 per­cent, re­ports of break­ing and en­ter­ing de­creased by 31 per­cent and re­ports of theft have de­creased by 42 per­cent.

This was fol­lowed by di­rec­tor’s re­ports, all of whom ex­pressed ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the city staff and their ef­forts to make these things pos­si­ble. For the three mem­bers whose time on the board is com­ing to a close, it ap­peared to be bit­ter-sweet.

John­son be­gan by not­ing his at­ten­dance record at the meet­ings dur­ing the last four years. He said that serv­ing on the board is one of the most im­por­tant things he’s done in his life and that he’ll al­ways cher­ish the re­la­tion­ships he’s estab­lished dur­ing his time there.

Smith went around the room and in­di­vid­u­ally ad­dressed each mem­ber of the board, Pat­ter­son, Mayor John Turner as well as City Clerk Re­nea El­lis. She ex­pressed grat­i­tude for the spe­cial skills that each one brings to the ta­ble and en­cour­aged them to keep up the good work. She ended by say­ing that her time on the board has given her a dif­fer­ent outlook on the ways that the city func­tions, and said that she wished every mem­ber of the com­mu­nity had a chance to see things “from this view” so they could share this per­spec­tive. On a sim­i­lar note, Beers ex­plained that his time on the board has dra­mat­i­cally in­creased the amount of pride he has in Siloam Springs.

“I don’t know that I un­der­stood four or five years ago ex­actly how the city worked, and all of us know when you be­come part of some­thing you get to see the in­side, the work­ings of what goes on,” Beers said. “I can tell you af­ter four years, I am so much more proud of our city to­day than I was four years ago, and I was pretty proud of it four years ago. So I say that to thank the team up here, the folks who work day in and day out at the wa­ter depart­ment, the po­lice depart­ment, the fire depart­ment, fi­nance, what­ever it is, you all de­serve a stand­ing ova­tion, so thank you for all the hard work day in and day out. … The only other thing I’d say is, I don’t know if I’d say it’s a chal­lenge, but just a thought to leave you with.

“I haven’t done a ton of row­ing, but I have done a lot of ca­noe­ing, and if you’ve ever been in a ca­noe with some­body who’s not go­ing the same di­rec­tion you are, it is a dis­as­ter, you ac­tu­ally spend way too much energy. But I think I can say the board, in my four years on it, I feel like we’ve pad­dled in the same di­rec­tion. We’ve had dis­cus­sions about where we should go but ev­ery­body put their pad­dle in the wa­ter and pulled hard. I am so thank­ful for that and I want to en­cour­age and pray that that con­tin­ues, be­cause it’s when we work to­gether that we move for­ward.”

Hunter McFer­rin/Siloam Sun­day

The city board fi­nal meet­ing of the year took place on Tues­day at the Siloam Springs Pub­lic Li­brary, and for three mem­bers, it was the last meet­ing al­to­gether. The evening con­sisted of a light agenda that was fol­lowed by some friendly dis­cus­sion about they’ve ac­com­plish­ments made over the last four years and what the ex­pe­ri­ence has meant to the three who are on their way out. Above, Di­rec­tor Steve Beers asks a ques­tion of Phil Jones from CR Craw­ford Con­struc­tion, the firm over­see­ing the ren­o­va­tions that are un­der­way for Fire Sta­tion No. 2. Seated to the left of Beers is City Clerk Re­nea El­lis, fol­lowed by Di­rec­tor Brad Burns; Di­rec­tor Frank John­son; Di­rec­tor Amy Smith; City Ad­min­is­tra­tor Phillip Pat­ter­son; Mayor John Turner; City At­tor­ney Jay Wil­liams; Di­rec­tor Reid Car­roll; Di­rec­tor Carol Smi­ley; Di­rec­tor Bob Cole­man.

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