Plans pro­ceed on sewer plant

De­part­ment heads give re­ports

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - ANNETTE BEARD

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.

Coun­cil mem­ber

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.

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