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GRAVETTE -- Kurt Maddox, mayor of Gravette, presented his annual state of the city address during the city council meeting Thursday, Jan. 25, outlining accomplishments made and goals achieved during his three years of office.

"Together, we've accomplished much over the last three years and, in particular, achieved many admirable milestones in 2017," Maddox said.

The city is experiencing growth, Maddox noted, with applications for new residential housing permits up 75 percent compared to 2016 and several new businesses opening recently. The opening of two lanes of Arkansas Highway 549 in May 2017, promises to promote even more increased growth.

The city is strong financially, Maddox said, and the general reserve account has grown from $129,000 to over $600,000, the water reserve account has grown from $151,000 to over $500,000 and the street reserve account has grown from $37,000 to just under $85,000 since January 1, 2015.

Voters' approval of continuation of a 3/4 cent sales tax in 2016 funded $1.6 million for street improvements, $1.65 million in sidewalk installation, $2.25 million for parks upgrades and construction and $750,000 in sewer upgrades. One of the most noticeable improvements during 2017 was the Main Street rejuvenation project which upgraded a two-block section of the historic Main Street with complete replacement of the street and sidewalks, installation of new street lights, a stormwater drainage system, new water lines and landscaping and improved utility lines.

In addition to street and parks improvements funded by the bond funds, the city has secured more than $1,000,000 in grant funds and private donations during the past three years. These include a $75,000 grant to renovate the old home ec building and create a Gravette community building, a $110,000 grant for improvements at Pop Allum Park, a $500,000 grant for a pedestrian trail and sidewalk and a $75,000 fire truck grant, as well as many smaller grants for the fire department, library and police departments.

Roads and an alley have been paved and several old sidewalks were improved and new sidewalks added, including from the senior housing to the hospital and in Old Town Park. Work will begin soon on a 1.4-mile pedestrian/bike path loop which will help provide a safe path to school for children from the southwest section of the city.

Improvements in the city parks include resurfacing of the tennis and basketball courts, the addition of a new dog park in Pop Allum Park, construction of new soccer fields and ball fields and a small playground at Pop Allum Park and new paint on all buildings in the park system. Remodeling of the Hiwasse Community Center is continuing and a new fire-station-themed playground was constructed nearby. New restrooms and a large public pavilion have also been added. A new slide and shade structures have been added to the Gravette city pool, construction of a splash park has begun and the pool house and restrooms will be renovated this spring.

Gravette's water and sewer department has completed significant infrastructure upgrades and a new water main was installed on Main Street, replacing the original cast iron pipe. New sewer lines were installed on El Paso Street and in the alley on Birmingham Street.

Gravette was recognized by SafeWise as one of the safest cities in Arkansas, moving up to a No. 8 ranking in 2017 from its No. 13 ranking in 2016. A full-time detective and patrol officer have recently been added to the police department and another officer promoted to corporal. The department now has three full-time training officers and has started an officer field training program for new hires. The PD provided gun safety training at Glenn Duffy Elementary School and conducted active shooter training with a local bank. With the help of canine officer K-9 IKKS, the department has succeeded in eliminating much drug traffic in the city.

The fire department is under the direction of a new fire chief who joined the department in 2017 and has a strong background in fire department development. Five members of the department are in training to become certified firefighters. A $75,000 grant was used to purchase a new ladder truck, and Care and Share donated $45,000 to purchase two LifePak monitor/defibrillators and a Lifeline arm automated compression device which better equips the department to respond to medical emergencies.

The Gravette Public Library saw record enrollment in the 2017 children's summer reading program and added summer reading clubs for teens and adults. Patrons participated in a "1,000 Books Before Kindergarten" program to promote early childhood literacy and a Saturday Scientists program was added to promote STEM skills. Teen Tech Week and a series of Teen Tuesday summer activities were provided for teens. Personal finance workshops were offered for adults and GED classes are being hosted at the library. Books from the library were loaned to students at Gravette Upper Elementary School while their school library was under construction.

"I look forward to continuing our efforts to have a safe, sustainable and service-oriented city," Maddox concluded after reporting all above accomplishments.

General News on 02/07/2018

Print Headline: Gravette mayor delivers state of the city address

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