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New library work on schedule

Updates on library system improvements, StreetScape progress and a call for a city council resolution supporting Smart911 were the main items for the Feb. 3 city council agenda meeting.

The agenda meeting combines the Public Works; Budget and Personnel; and Police and Fire Committees. The newest committee, Community Development chaired by Kevin Davis, was added with this meeting.

Aldermen Davis, Jon Moore, Dallan Buchanan, Angie Jones, Rick Prentice, Ann Gilliam, Ed Long and Ryan Flynn attended the meeting.

Under Public Works, committee members were given updates on the library and StreetScape projects; the Second Street Corridor Plan; and progress on the Linden Street Apartment rehabilitation.

Budget and Personnel Committee actions included considering an appointment to the Planning Commission and a Right-of-Way purchase.

Police and Fire committee action included hearing a call to support Smart911.

Davis introduced the purpose of the Community Development Committee.

In Public Works, Lonoke/Prairie County Library System director Debbie Moore told committee members that work toward the new library is on schedule and is expected to be completed in nine to 12 months.

Moore was speaking about the move to the former Knight’s grocery store, at the corner of South 10th and West Main streets. The project is one of the capital improvements approved by voters in a special election held in March 2013.

Overall, the library system is reaching most of the people of Lonoke and Prairie counties, Moore said. All the circulation numbers are up, she said.

Between Lonoke and Prairie counties, in 2013 more than 57 percent of the people had library cards. “That’s almost unheard of,” Moore said. Even the Central Arkansas Library System does not have that level of participation, she said. “We are so very proud of that.”

Of the 2013 circulation of more than 416,000 items, about 61.6 percent was through the Cabot branch, Moore said. That number was reached while operating out of the 8,000 square-foot facility. That number can be expected to grow with the larger library, she said.

Computer usage is climbing every day and people coming to use the computer could expect to wait, Moore said. Usage of reference materials is up 68 percent.

In 2013, there were nearly 1,900 new patrons registered at the Cabot branch, Moore said.

The circulation numbers peaked at more than 423,000 in 2009, and then declined to about 400,000 before leveling out. But the numbers are again on the rise to the 2013 level, Moore said.

The library system is buying the last of the “hard-wired” computers, which will be used in the new library, Moore said. But the hard-wire computers are “the thing of the past,” with the changeover to laptop-style computers is already under way, she said.

About 40 of the laptop-style computers will be ordered, Moore said. Coming next to the libraries are the e-readers, “Whether it be the Kindles, Nooks, iPads, whatever… It is not a thing of the future, it is already here,” Moore said. “We have 12,000 e-books to chose from; last year we circulated 5,000.”

In other matters, Planning Commission chairman James Reid said the proposed Second Street Corridor plan is ready for consideration by the city council. Previous concerns about disparities on the planning map for the Corridor delayed further consideration. Reid told Committee members those disparities have been corrected; committee members then approved the plan for consideration at the Feb. 17 council meeting.

The Corridor Plan is the last of the major plans for the city, Reid said. “All our main corridors will now be defined,” he said.

The other corridors are South Pine Street, Highway 5, Highway 321 and West Main.

The Second Street Plan will manage commercial development of the area from Cut Hill Road to the north city limit.

While the area is largely built up, new growth to the north can be expected when the new interchange between Cabot and Austin, on U.S. Highway 367, is built, Reid said.

Public Works director Brian Buroughs said the StreetScape project to improve West Main Street between Fourth and Ninth streets is finally to the point that construction bids are about to be accepted. The project was begun under former mayor Eddie Joe Williams and was delayed by right-of-way issues.

Buroughs said he expects to have a construction bid ready for presentation to the city council at the March 17 meeting.

The project will add sidewalks and light poles along either side of West Main Street between Fourth and Ninth streets. However, there will be no crosswalks added.

Mayor Bill Cypert explained that the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department will not allow crosswalks on state highways except at intersections with traffic controls.

Committee members also approved the nomination of Darrell Tullos to the Cabot Planning Commission for consideration at the March 17 city council meeting. Tullos will fill the vacancy made with the November resignation of former chairman Ron Craig. Reid was elected chairman to succeed Craig.

Cabot City Council meetings are held the third Monday of the month. Meetings are held in the council chambers of the City Annex, 202 North First St. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. The next meeting will be Feb. 17.

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