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BENTONVILLE -- Benton County residents will be able to quiz officials at town hall meetings this month. County Judge Barry Moehring said he will make a brief presentation on roads, the proposed courts building and other issues, invite other elected officials to speak and then open the floor to questions and comments.

"We'll be there to answer any questions," Moehring said.

The first meeting was scheduled at Pea Ridge City Hall on Monday, but additional meetings are upcoming in Lowell on Feb. 12 and in Decatur on Feb. 26.

Moehring said he expects these gatherings to be similar to last year's. At those sessions, he said, county roads were the most frequently raised topic. Moehring said he thinks roads will dominate this year, even though the county is working on a $25 million courts building.

"Most of the people who come to the town halls don't spend a lot of time in the courts building," he said. "They do spend time on county roads."

Pea Ridge Mayor Jackie Crabtree said his city and the county have a history of working together and have a few roads they cooperate on maintaining.

"We've done several street projects together," Crabtree said. "We'll get the road prepped and we furnish the materials and the county provides the equipment that does the work. We've had a few streets we share, some that are half in the city and half in the county. In situations like that, we work with the county."

Crabtree said the city and county also have stabilized the rural ambulance service issue. Pea Ridge upgraded its ambulance service to an advanced life support system and helps the county provide ambulance service to rural areas. The county also works with Bentonville, Siloam Springs, Gravette, Mercy Health System, and the Northeast Benton County Fire Department to cover the unincorporated areas of the county.

Moehring said sometimes they can't answer a question. At a town hall meeting last year in Gentry, Shawn Hunter asked about bicycling on county roads and state highways in the rural area.

Hunter, who lives in Gentry and works in Siloam Springs, said Friday she thinks some progress is being made. She said Gentry is working on signs and marking streets, and Siloam Springs is working on a bridge at City Lake Park that would help her bicycle to work on some of the less-busy county roads and city streets. Hunter said bicycling is something more people are interested in as a means of transportation and as part of a healthy lifestyle.

"I hope it does get to the county as a hot-button issue," she said.

Moehring said the growing interest in bicycling presents challenges.

"Most of our county roads pre-date the recent bicycling enthusiasm," he said. "They weren't designed with that in mind. It's mostly a matter of safety. There are people who are more interested in off-road cycling and we've had some conversations about what might be done on some of our dirt roads. I think it probably is something we need to take a closer look at."

Town Hall meetings

Benton County officials will host two more town hall meetings for residents. Each is scheduled to run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Feb. 12 -- Hickory Creek Fire Station, 15645 Arkansas 264, Lowell

Feb. 26 -- Decatur City Hall, 310 Maple Ave., Decatur

Source: Staff report

General News on 02/07/2018

Print Headline: Benton County hosting town hall meetings

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