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Long delayed StreetScape about to begin

Residents complaining about noisy, speeding neighbors may have gotten the direction they needed after posing their dilemma at the Cabot City Council meeting held Monday evening. The complaint was voiced during the public comment time before the meeting adjourned.

In other matters, council members heard the annual report from Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services (MEMS) and approved actions to improve fire protection, begin the construction of StreetScape and other projects.

Attending the meeting were Mayor Bill Cypert; Clerk-Treasurer Tammy Yocom; City Attorney Jimmy Taylor.; and aldermen: Ed Long, Kevin Davis, Dallan Buchanan, Jon Moore, Angie Jones, Rick Prentice, Ann Gilliam and Ryan Flynn.

MEMS executive director Jon Swanson gave the annual report that included explanation for continuing the city subsidy for the ambulance service.

Reduced Medicare fees do not cover the cost of the service, but the patient cannot be billed for the difference. That, plus the number of runs in Cabot causes a shortfall, thus the need for the subsidy to ensure service to Cabot, he said.

The subsidy has been needed since 2008, and this year is about $21,000.

Overall, MEMS continues to improve quality of care and meet performance standards and expectations; takes part in the state trauma system; still maintains staffing despite funding cuts, “We look forward to continuing to serve the community,” Swanson said.

Besides a portion of Lonoke County, MEMS also covers Pulaski, Faulkner and Grant counties, with a total of more than 516,000 residents, Swanson said.

MEMS maintains two ambulances at Cabot between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.; one ambulance between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. Backup ambulances are brought in as needed from other areas, and has maintained better than a 92-percent performance rate on answering calls, he said.

In other matters, the council approved a request by the Cabot Water And Wastewater Commission to proceed with condemnation proceedings that would permit improvements to water supplies in the area of Middle School North.

Commission member Bert Mayer explained the action was to run water lines through the railroad right of way, and the railroad had begun placing restrictions and requirements not seen before.

The improvements are to bring the fire hydrants up to standards called for in the last Insurance Standards Organization (ISO) evaluation, Mayer said.

The bid by Windstream Communications to upgrade the city’s communications was accepted. Under the $94,000 contract, the city’s Wide Area Network (WAN) will be expanded and the city’s outmoded phone system will be replaced.

Construction of the long-delayed West Main StreetScape project as approved with the naming of Jcon Inc., as general contractor for the project.

Primarily funded through a grant from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, StreetScape will add sidewalks from 4th Street to 9th Street, and other improvements for pedestrian access to the area.

No crosswalks would be added until Phase II of the project, extending the improvements to 10th Street.

During public comment, Timber Lane resident Kristen Schellenberg called on the council for direction on dealing with neighbors she said had disregarded other residents’ well being.

Loud engines are “revved” at night, the street is used for racing and she said.

The neighbors are military, and when military officials were contacted, they were told nothing could be done since the problem was not on the base, Schellenberg said.

Calls to the police have not been able to change the problem, she said.

“We really need something done,” Schellenberg said.

Chief of Police Jackie Davis said a recent incident in which the police could have taken action did not progress because the injured party chose not to make a complaint. Without the complaint, the police could not make an arrest, he said.

“We have to witness it,” to make an arrest otherwise, Davis said.

If someone would swear out an affidavit, the police could act on the complaint and take it to district court, Davis said.

Making a report is not the same as an affidavit, Davis said, responding to a question.

“We will be happy to explain how to work [an affidavit] out,” Davis said.

Timber Lane resident Paul Kassner asked about installing speed bumps.

Cypert directed Kassner to Public Works director Brian Buroughs for instructions on the request process.

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