The Lonoke City Council heard of problems with city hall Monday night during the council meeting.
Mayor Wayne McGee informed the council of problems they are having with the city hall building. McGee estimated the building was constructed in 1920. He said their are numerous leaks, the awning on the front of the building is rotting and falling down, the east wall is deteriorating and water is seeping in, as well as the air conditioning unit for the administration part of the building is currently not working.
McGee said he isn’t sure if the council should start looking into funds to construct a new building or to repair problems to the current building. He said if repairs are done to the building, it will be rather costly.
City Attorney Camille Bennett also told the council that the court room is dangerous, do to the number of its entrance and exits. She said there is a new law which requires court rooms are mandated to meet new safety protocol requirements.
After discussing the buildings issues, the council voted to spend up to $2,600 to repair the air conditioner.
The city bought the former Glover Building at 107 W. Second St. from Larry Woods for $115,000 in July 1996. The council approved the the purchase 5-3 with alderman Cheryl Anderson, Richard Bransford, Lenville Evans, William Hall and Jim Parks voting in favor; Rose Jones, Bob Butler and Jackie Moore voted against the purchase.
Later that year, the city administration moved out of the Lonoke Depot.
During public comment part of the meeting, Jay Perry, owner of the Spud Shop & Sandwich Emporium, asked for the council’s blessing to hand out fliers at the ball game. Parks director Roy Don Lewis told the council that he has told Perry, as well as everyone else that fliers can not be handed out during games.
The council did not agree with any materials being handed out at the ball park because it opens the opportunity for other businesses and organizations to hand materials out as well. It was also an issue that if Perry is allowed to for free, what is the purpose of business sponsoring banners on the field.
“I want everyone’s business to do good,” Lewis said. “That’s why we hold the tournaments.”
After discussion, Perry agreed to purchase a banner to be displayed at the park on the east side of the concession stand until the end of the season.
Pat Derning asked the council to consider only running the leaf and limb trucks one day a week as Little Rock and North Little Rock does. He said residents would be aware of the date, and could have their debris collected on the side of the road on that day. Derning said this would stop wear and tear on the vehicles and save money on gas and labor.
Derning suggested the savings from not running the truck daily be used to hire a full time code enforcement office that would be capable of writing citations for those who do not mow their grass, have houses falling in, trash, over grown yards or anything else necessary.
Derning said overgrown yards and abandoned house are causing a major problem with pests.
“In two and half years, I have caught 36 skunks, over 100 possums and coons and no telling how many feral cats,” Derning said.
No action was taken by the council on either items.
Lewis said changes have been made to the plans for the bathrooms at the park. He asked that once the plans have been approved, if the city could then been put the plans back out for bid. During the May 13 meeting, the council rejected all bids due to the price coming in higher than expected. The council unanimously voted to rebid the project once changes to the plans have been approved.
Lewis said he has taken bids for a new 34-horsepower mower with a 72-inch cut. He said he received four bids, the highest from Cabot Outdoors in Cabot for a John Deer mower priced at $14,300. The lowest received was from Heritage Agriculture in Carlisle for a Kubota mower priced at $12,741. Lewis said Heritage Agriculture offered a $500 trade in for mower in need of a new motor, but he asked the council allow him to keep the mower and continue to search for it a motor.
Because a tractor was not budgeted for, Wendell Walker suggested the city purchase the mower by finance with zero percent interest for 60 months. He said many stores are currently offering this promotion, which would give the city time to budget for the purchase. They council unanimously voted to look into finance options before puchasing a new mower.
For mosquito service, Lewis said spraying began Monday. He said to finish the season, the city will need to purchase mineral oil for mixing chemicals. The council voted unanimously to allow up to $16,000 to be spent for mineral oil.
Community Center director Mike Brown said the new sign is becoming a hit. He said during the June 3 Community Center Board meeting, it was decided that the center will not sell advertisement on the sign. The sign will be used only for community center events, classes and announcements as well as events or announcements that would benefit the community, at the director’s discretion.
Public Works Superintendent Brian Whitworth said when it rains, water on West Academy is not only washing out a ditch, but flooding and getting under the road causing problems. He asked the council for permission to purchase 300 foot of 36 inch culvert for $12,000 to help route the water. The council voted unanimously to purchase the culvert.
The council also approved the purchase up to $4,000 of two, 3o-foot sections of 48-inch culvert to be installed in a ditch on Dismukes, contingent on getting easements from the property owners. Janie Derning, Danny Whitehurst, Pat Howell, Raymond Hatton, Michael Florence and Koy Butler voted for the purchase. Wendell Walker was against.
Whitworth said they are having issues with finding the sewer problem at Rosemary Lane. The council voted unanimously to clean out the lines, run a camera from Rosemary to the pump station to locate the problem and repair it.
By ordinance, the council unanimously voted to wave bidding for cleaning and repair of the sewer system. L&R Sewer and Drain of Pevely, Mo., will continue to rehabilitate dilapidated and damage manholes and to clean the sewer lines.
Fire Chief Jimmy Wallace gave an update on the fire department. He said most of the repairs being done to engines four and five have been completed, with the exception of a few minor things. He also informed the council that they have received a $2.000 equipment grant form MFA Oil. Wallace said there were a total of 13 fire calls in May, including two brush fires, one structure fire, one mutual aid and three ambulance assistants.
Police Chief Mike Wilson said the department had 114 complaint or dispatch calls, 230 911 calls, served five felony warrants, 25 misdemeanor warrants and served five warrants for other departments during May. He said there were 66 total inmates booked into jail, 31 of which were immigration inmates. Wilson said compared to May 2012, theft was down but criminal charges and offenses were up. After being questioned on the status of the new K-9 due, he said the team made a significant arrest earlier that afternoon.
Action will be taking this month on a number of condemned properties in town. The council voted unanimously to take the following action:
•To haul the old cars and hog pen on the property located at 519 Hamburg.
•To spend up to $1,500 to clean up the property located at 519 Reynolds and to send the property owner a bill for the clean up.
•To spend $3,700 to clean up the property located at 302 Teresa Lane
•To spend up to $3,000 to tear down the house located on 521 England Street
•To give the property owners of 903 Court Street one week to clean up their property
The council also unanimously voted to condemn the homes located at 122 Oakdale and 312 Harrison
In other property issue, my unanimous vote, 3rd Street Apartments will be given an additional 30 days to make improvements on the property. A letter will be sent to the owner of Mallard Point golf course, requesting the golf course be mowed and the drainage ditches be swabbed out within seven days or fines will be applied. Gloria Heard’s property on 519 Reynolds was removed from the list of properties with issues. The home located on 302 Wright Street, owned by the county will be given until August to remove the home in additional to the county other two houses located on Fourth Street, which were also condemned during the meeting.
The next city council meeting will be at 6 p.m. on July 8 in the courtroom.