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HIGHFILL -- With no one in attendance at the May 8 meeting expressing interest in filling the vacant Ward 1, Position 1, alderman post, the city council appointed Trevyr Lester, the wife of Toby Lester, to fill the unexpired term of Michelle Rieff. Toby Lester holds the ward's other seat on the council, and Rieff was appointed the mayor at the April meeting to replace Stacy Digby, who resigned in March just prior to an arrest.

The appointment came after Jay Williams, the city's attorney, read a portion of the state code, stating that the council was legally bound to appoint a person to fill the vacant council post at the next regular meeting following the vacating of the seat. The council had expected more interest in filling the seat but was forced to scramble to find a resident from the ward willing to fill the post. After going into executive session and then attempting to contact some residents of the ward, Toby Lester said his wife would fill the post if no one else was found. The appointment passed with a 3-2 vote.

In other business, the council -- after another executive session to discuss personnel matters -- narrowly passed a budget amendment which will allow for an additional employee and for an increase in salaries. The resolution included budgeting for a half-time administrative assistant to help with duties at city hall. When the resolution was proposed, Holland said he wanted to include money for a building inspector/code enforcement officer to help Butch Wiand with those duties.

The council also narrowly gave approval to a set of restoration plans for the community building. The action makes it possible for the plans to be considered and possibly approved by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. The city was awarded a $75,000 grant to restore the old building in an effort to have it included on the state and national register of historic places. If it is approved at the state level, the plans can be put out for bids on the work.

The sentiment expressed by a number of council members and by some in attendance at the meeting was to reject the bids if they exceeded money received by the city in grants and scrap the restoration project.

"The building should have never been torn down the way it was," said Chris Holland in reference to stripping off the building's newer siding.

Some in attendance said the city would have been wiser to spend money on a new community building instead of trying to restore a building which now can't be used for community events.

The council unanimously approved an ordinance amending the city's planning area map, giving the city the maximum amount of planning area possible under the law. The change was needed because the previous planning area map did not include some lands which should have been included.

General News on 05/16/2018

Print Headline: Highfill scrambles to fill vacant council post

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