Plans proceed on sewer plant
Department heads give reports
Several city department heads reported on business in each of their respective departments at the Tuesday, June 19, Pea Ridge City Council meeting.
Introducing the department heads, Mayor Jackie Crabtree said that at a recent committee of the whole meeting of both City Council and Planning Commission members, it was pointed out that the elected and appointed officials do not always know what’s going on in each of the city departments.
Water/wastewater Department superintendent Ken Hayes said plans are progressing on the new sewer plant, although there are delays.
“We got an update from McClellan (the engineers on the project) and they’re a little bit behind schedule,” Hayes said, explaining that State Health Department approval is required before the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality approval will be granted. Once those approvals are in place, a construction permit will be issued by the state.
Hayes also told city officials there is a piece of equipment needed for the plant that he will be able to purchase used, saving the city money. He said Decatur used the equipment, which he described as the polishing filter before the water goes into the creek, for about seven years but quickly outgrew it.
“We can save a considerable amount of money buying that instead of a new one,” Hayes told the Council.
Hayes also reported that his department has been replacing old metal water lines throughout the city and the next project will be on North Curtis Avenue from the Church of Christ to the laundromat. He said it will be a 10-day project and the line needs to be connected to another line across the street. The next project is on McIntosh and North Davis streets.
“We’ve probably got six or eight we’re going to do this year,” Hayes said.
Street superintendent Nathan See reported the need to transfer $158,000 from the impact fees to the Street Department to pay for
repairs from the disasters that damaged Patterson Road and Peck Road bridge. He said the money would be returned to impact fees when the FEMA reimbursement is received by the city and should be in place in time to pay for paving Hazelton Road.
Building official Tony Townsend said the building department is lagging behind on permits and that there are still 45 permits pending from last year. “We’re still a busy department,” he said.
Bob Cottingham asked Townsend if he had additional help as was recommended by city officials at a committee of the whole meeting.
“Not yet,” Townsend said. “We just haven’t done it yet,” the mayor said. “We’re working on it.”
City librarian Alex Wright reported that business at the library had increased by 50 percent and the library is reaching 1,000 patrons. She said she has tried to increase the programs offered and that has increased by 30 percent.
“The largest increase is in the adult programs. That’s a good example for the children,” Wright said.
Wright reported that computers have been updated to help the library abide by patron privacy laws, that the library has a movie license thanks to the Friends of the Library and is showing movies for children this summer, and is now a certifying organization for the president’s service award to recognize volunteers for their service. She said the library is growing so fast that they may need to expand into the community room for a new children’s area.
Police Chief Ryan Walker told city officials the Police Department is busy. “We’re swamped. We need more money. We’re hoping for more businesses to increase the tax base.”
He said he anticipates calls for service to exceed 7,600 this year.
Walker said he has eight patrol officers who are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. He said there are also administrative staff, Criminal Investigation Division staff and School Resource Officers. He said he has 15 staff members — 14 fulltime, one part-time and one civilian (the clerk).
Walker said that based on trends, the department has increased the work load by 120 percent with a 140 percent increase in reports.
“I’m a firm believer that our guys need to be out on the street serving,” Walker said. “We’re going to be out there working, not sitting in the office. So, these numbers we’re presenting to you are cold, hard facts — the bare minimum of reports based on what we do.”
Walker said the department also has an SRT team and has an officer who is a trained hostage negotiator.
“Lt. (Eric) Lyle is the commander of the SRT team,” Walker said. “This year, we haven’t spent a ton of money on equipment but we have spent it on training.”
“We haven’t really added a patrol person in seven years,” he said, explaining that although officers have been hired, they’ve either been placed as SROs, administrators or replacing officers who leave. “We’re doing this with pretty much the same number of people we had seven years ago.”
Walker said Sgt. Michael Lisenbee is over the Criminal Investigation Division, and will be a certified drug recognition expert who can testify in court.
“The canine program has been very successful,” Walker said. “We’re taking any money from those seizures (of property) and putting that back into the drug fund. We hope to expand the canine program. We hope to get a second dog.”
Walker said the parking lot at the police station was paved using impact fees and was an asset for the senior population and the officers. He said he has had someone offer to donate a flag and possibly flag pole.
“Half of our department is FTO (field training officer) certified and instructor certified so we can do the majority of our training in house. That’s a huge savings to the department,” Walker said. He also said the department had been approved by the state for a $100,000 grant which will allow him to put “brand new laptops, printers, scanners and all the necessary equipment in all of our patrol cars.”
Walker said the technology provided by computers in the cars would aid greatly in officer safety as well as decrease time of traffic stops.
In other business, the Council:
• Authorized Hayes to advertise for bids for a used truck with a utility bed for the Water Department;
• Approved the minutes from the May 15 minutes;
• Appointed Ken Hayes as director and Jackie Crabtree as alternate to the Benton/ Washington Rural Water Authority Board; and
• Approved Resolution 412 to appoint Jay Williams of Gentry as city prosecutor for $1,000 per month.
Crabtree said that Steve Routon, hired April 9, as city prosecutor, had resigned. He said there were three attorneys who filed for the position — Bill Horton of Rogers, Brian Campbell of Pea Ridge and Williams.
Crabtree also said city officials had agreed to release the agenda for City Council meetings in time to have them published in the Pea Ridge TIMES prior to City Council meetings which are on the third Tuesday of every month.
“We’re going back to that. There are times an emergency will come up, but we’re going to do our very best,” Crabtree said.
Crabtree also announced that Tommy Thompson was retiring from the Street Department after 16 years of service to the city.