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Metroplan honors response to pipeline

The 2014 budget, award presentation and a review of Imagine Central Arkansas were the main agenda items for the Dec. 18 Metroplan board of directors meeting.

At the meeting, Cabot mayor Bill Cypert turned over the president’s gavel to Haskell mayor Jeff Arey after serving as 2013 board president.

Other 2014 officers include vice president Mayflower mayor Randy Holland; secretary, Jacksonville mayor Gary Fletcher; and treasurer, Ward mayor Art Brooke.

Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson and Mayflower mayor Randy Holland were named joint recipients of the 2013 Jack Evans Regional Leadership Award.

The award is for their response to oil spill cleanup from the March 29 Pegasus Pipeline rupture is a Mayflower residential area requiring the evacuation of more than 20 homes.

The presentation was by Metroplan executive director Jim McKenzie during the Dec. 18 board of directors meeting.

McKenzie said the cooperative leadership by Holland and Dodson was key to the rapid dispatch of emergency crews to prevent contamination of the main body of Lake Conway and lessened the environmental damage to the area.

For weeks afterward, Dodson was the local coordinator of an emergency plan by local and federal authorities.

The Jack Evans Regional Leadership Award was created in 1993 by the Metroplan Board in honor of the late Sherwood mayor Jack Evans.

Any private citizen, public official, company, civic group or institution that meets the criteria of outstanding public service advancing sound planning and inter-government cooperation in central Arkansas is eligible for the award. Past recipients include Pulaski County Judge F.G. “Buddy” Villines, Lonoke County Judge Don Bevis, Mayor Pat Hays, Hugh McDonald of Entergy, Joe Ford of Alltel, Congressman Vic Snyder, state Representatives Preston Scroggin and Jane English, Central Arkansas Water, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Hendrix College.

In other matters, the board approved the proposed 2014 budget without discussion.

Total Revenue projected for 2014 is about $3.88 million, up from about $3.48 million in 2013; with projected expenses of about $3.85 million, up from about $3.43 in 2013.

Members’ dues projected for 2014 is $605,830; dues paid by area members include Lonoke County - $20,487; Cabot - $21,874; Jacksonville - $26,095; Lonoke [city] - $3,905; Sherwood - $27,161; and Ward $3,742.

Salaries and benefits total about $1.49 million

McKenzie pointed out at previous meetings that the proposed budget does not change the annual membership dues. He also said that the state highway department has said the current level of transportation funding can be expected through 2014, but the funding in 015 is uncertain.

The payroll line item is increased by three percent, though individual raises will be based on personnel evaluations and will vary by individual, McKenzie said.

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