GRAVETTE -- The regular meeting of the Gravette City Council Committee of the Whole was held Thursday, Sept. 9, with all members present.
Bob Kelley, owner of property on Second Avenue S.E. behind the new Taco Bell, spoke to the council about problems with lights shining in the windows at his house and those of neighbors as late as 2 or 3 a.m. Kelley said he had been told a year ago that if the property was bought as a site for Taco Bell, the business would be required to build a privacy fence behind it to prevent such intrusion. He said he was just asking the city to honor what was said last year. After Kelley spoke, Mayor Kurt Maddox replied that he had spoken with officials at Taco Bell after a conversation with Kelley earlier in the week and relayed his concerns. He said Taco Bell indicated it would have a fence up in about a week.
Reports were heard from several department heads. Police chief Chuck Skaggs reported responding to 258 calls since the previous month's meeting. He said police officers have been participating in interdepartmental training with other area departments, one officer has been attending a class for westside departments and two officers have been attending taser classes to learn how to train others in taser use.
David Keck, building inspector/code enforcement officer, reported Jenna Estates in Hiwasse has started grading the site for new roads, and progress is being made. Site work has also begun at the Dollar General in Hiwasse with the installation of a construction entrance and site grading for the detention pond. Razor Box Storage will have all slabs poured by the end of the week. Keck also reported work is continuing on the walking trails.
Richard Sutherland, water and sewer department director, reported a recent walk-through of Teri's Place subdivision.
Karen Benson, library director, reported library staff is resuming several programs at the library, including Code Club, where participants can drop in, check out a kit and work on it at the library. Benson also reported that access to ancestry.com became available Sept. 1 and a business startup workshop will be held beginning Sept. 21. She also reported the library is receiving another grant and she will reveal details later.
Fire chief David Orr reported his department has responded to 525 calls for service so far this year. Firefighters have been training with other departments and two department members are taking further individual training. He reminded everyone about the department's Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony Saturday.
Tim Dewitt, the streets and parks department manager, reported city fall cleanup is scheduled for Sept. 27 through Oct. 2. A tree giveaway will be held Saturday, Oct. 23, beginning at 8 a.m. Dewitt also reported work on installing rock on the bathrooms in Kindley Park was to begin Monday, Sept. 13.
A short special council meeting was convened in which council members voted to proceed with refinancing the city's water bonds with Raymond James. This will result in the two water bonds being combined into one.
In new business, council members considered donating surplus fire equipment to the Sulphur Springs Fire Department. Chief Orr reported the equipment is no longer in service by the Gravette department but is still in good shape. A resolution will be on the agenda at the Sept. 23 council meeting to declare four SCBA masks and two sections of five-inch hose as surplus so they can be donated to the Sulphur Springs department.
The final plat for Teri's Place subdivision has been submitted for final approval of easement, streets and right-of-way dedication. Council members will vote on accepting the final plat at the Sept. 23 council meeting.
Also on the agenda for the Sept. 23 council meeting will be an ordinance rezoning two parcels off Highway 72 owned by Kayla and Colton Carlton, Jennifer, Darline and Travis Arnold from A-1, agricultural, to C-2, commercial, and a resolution to declare as surplus a 2017 Ford Explorer no longer in service.
An application for rezoning a 1.29-acre parcel owned by Robert Jaskie, Dorothy and Jason Westbrook at 13250 Camille Lane in Hiwasse from A-1, agricultural, to R-1, residential, has been submitted to the planning commission. The property is adjacent to the highway interchange but there is no access road to the highway so the property owners wish to have it rezoned for the purpose of building a private home.
Carl Rabey, city finance director, gave the August financial report, showing a $35,000 surplus in the general revenue fund and a $2,000 surplus in the street fund. There is a $37,000 deficit in the water department fund, due largely to needed water system repairs, and also a deficit in the capital improvement fund, due largely to the Kindley Park bathroom remodel and purchase of a new police car. Rabey reported a $189,000 balance remaining in the sidewalk bond fund and said he is working on the 2022 budget and expects to have it ready to present to the council by Nov. 1.