Marmaduke picks new mayor from field of eight

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Marmaduke City Council heard from eight interested candidates in their search for the town's new mayor during Monday night's regular meeting. Joe Horton, Nileane Drope, Walter Whitenton, Steve Dixon, Kathleen Allison, George Manis, Dennis Payne and Jason Farmer attended to make their cases for the position to aldermen Roy Newsom, Bill Muse, Chuck Long, Jerrimy Farmer, Chris Blackshear and Tom Green.

The council entered a lengthy executive session to meet individually with each candidate. The hopefuls were granted three minutes each to share their plans for the mayor position with the council. Each candidate then was questioned as the council attempted to narrow the search.

"I appreciate the desire to serve and the willingness to serve that was shown here tonight," Muse said to the gathered attendees. "We've talked about each candidate and the things you said with an open mind and an open heart."

Ultimately, the council opted to appoint Dixon as mayor, changing the position from full-time to a part-time status for at least the remaining one-and-a-half-years of the current mayoral term.

The rate of pay for the position has been adjusted to $1,050 per month with the part-time status.

Once named mayor, Dixon led the proceedings for the remainder of the meeting. One of the first matters brought to his attention was the need to replace the eight-inch main on the well at the former city hall building. The leaks in the main have resulted in a loss of water pressure along the line, which is used by ARI and Anchor, as well as residences. City workers expect the job to take approximately four hours to complete. Newsom said the project ideally would be done late at night, most likely at 1 a.m. on a Sunday, in order to affect the fewest number of people, since the water will have to be shut off for the work to be completed.

Bonus Discussion

Bonuses for full-time employees were limited at the end of 2008 in light of the city's ongoing financial situation. At the time, full-time employees were given $600 bonuses instead of $1,000 with the council agreeing to evaluate whether the remaining $400 per employee would be available in July.

Dixon asked the finance committee, made up of Newson, Long and Blackshear, to meet and discuss the matter in order to determine if the additional bonuses were feasible at this time.

Marmaduke Depot

Robert Dowler talked with the council about the possibility of purchasing the city's original train depot and returning it to Marmaduke. The depot currently is owned by a private resident who lives 16 miles from town. Dowler said he had met with the current owner and noted the city could purchase the depot for $5,000 with an additional fee of $5,000 needed to move the depot back to the city.

According to Dowler, the depot is over 120 years old. He expressed interest in the idea of utilizing the depot in some way, either as an information center or perhaps a library for the city. Dowler said it was crucial to have the depot in place before work could begin on any available grants or possible historic recognition. The council showed some interest in the matter, but decided to table the discussion until more can be learned about the building and what options are available to the city.

Work Accomplishments

Earlier in the meeting, interim mayor Betty Jackson cited the hard work of the city's water and street department in preparing the park for the Marmaduke Picnic. She noted the cleaning of the park and the installation of the new playground equipment by the department. Jackson also told the council the department had repaired eight water leaks, placed two new tiles, installed a water top and replaced two water meters.

In other business, the council:

* Approved the second quarter fire report.

* Heard from McDowell the fire department is seeking three grants in the amount of $1,000; $7,000 and $50,000, respectively, for improvements.

* Approved the treasurer's report.

* Approved the minutes from the June 1 regular meeting, the June 5 special meeting and the June 12 special meeting.

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