Piggott Council Meets

Thursday, April 28, 2016
An example of the run-down properties earmarked for attention by the Piggott City Council.(courtesy photo)

With summer fast approaching, members of the Piggott City Council have approved a new set of rules for the municipal swimming pool for the coming season. During the regular monthly gathering at city hall Monday evening the aldermen also heard an update on the MLWS, discussed the city owned building slated to become a fire station and reviewed city maintenance efforts. Mayor Jim Poole also informed council members on efforts to address dilapidated property, and the current plan of action.

With all members in attendance, along with City Clerk Ramona Magee, City Attorney Kimberly Dale and Utilities Director Brian Haley the meeting was called to order.

Under the heading of old business, Poole updated the plans for use of the former Woodhall building, located on East Pfeiffer, next door to the community center. During the March meeting the aldermen voted to allow a plan to proceed which would convert the former factory into a fire station for the eastern side of the city. Afterward, the current tenant of the building, Freedom Hobbs, was informed of the decision and given 60 days to vacate.

"We've been contacted by Freedom Hobbs and he is requesting more time to vacate the building," Poole told the council members. "He has sub-leased a portion of the building, and needs more time to make other arrangements"

After discussing the issue the council members agreed to extend the deadline an additional 30 days, and instructed the city attorney to draft a letter of notice. After further review the aldermen set the date of June 30 as the deadline, and the measure passed on a vote of 4-0.

After discussing the possible sale of the building for several years, it was decided the facility would be of better use as a fire station for the east side of town, and to provide additional storage for the city.

"When we rotate our fire trucks the next time, and the 1991 pumper is moved to the eastern side of town we'll have a problem--it won't fit in the current fire station," Poole explained when first proposing the effort. In recent months the department has also accepted delivery of a new set of the "Jaws of Life" and other equipment which will also be housed in the new station, providing for both sides of the city.

Council members also reviewed the new rules and rental fees for the municipal swimming pool, and gave their approval without dissent. In a response to repeated requests, the council also addressed the issue of charging for adults, and other chaperons, who accompany children to the pool.

In years past those not planning to swim, but accompanying others to the pool, had been allowed entry at no charge. But, after the privilege was abused by a number of parents, those accompanying swimmers were required to pay the full admission fee of $4.

"I've heard from grandparents who want to take their grand kids down there, but don't want to pay $4 just to sit there," Alderman Mike Cook said of the issue. The remaining members of council noted they had heard similar comments, and felt the matter should be addressed.

After reviewing the pros and cons, they agreed to offer an entry fee is $2 for such escorts, but noted anyone abusing the system would be dealt with. The matter passed on a vote of 4-0.

The aldermen also approved a raise for Abby Holcomb, in her capacity as co-manager of the swimming pool, setting her pay at $9.60. Raises of 25-cents and hour were also approved for returning lifeguards Logan Dixon and Nicholas McKinnie, due to the fact the minimum wage has increased in the past year.

Council members also voted unanimously to accept a bid of $6,505 from Dacus Fence Company of Jonesboro for the replacement of the fence around the pool.

"The old fence had some rusty spots, and it was rough in many areas," Poole offered. "This bid is for vinyl coated fencing, so we'll never have those problems again."

During his update, Haley reported on the effort to replace the electric and water meters with radio-read units. He noted about 400 of the electric meters are now in service, and another 400 are on order. There are also some 400 of the water meters now in service, with another 72 on order.

"We have about 2,200 customers, and we hope to have all of the electric meters installed by sometime in 2019," Haley explained. "As for the water meters, we probably won't have all of them installed until at least 2020 or 2021."

The new meter system offers a drastic reduction in manpower, and mistakes, in the reading process and will save the city money in years to come.

Haley also noted the sale of water bonds is progressing, and the public hearing on the matter will be held at 11:45 a.m. on Monday, May 16, prior to the regular council meeting at noon. He indicated the closing date will be set soon after, and the sale should be conducted by the first of July.

The city is refinancing the water bonds in order to take advantage of a lower interest rate, with the proceeds to be used for a painting project involving the water tower in the industrial park. Any additional funds derived from the refinancing are earmarked for new portable generators for the water and sewer system.

During his update, Poole noted the effort to have dilapidated homes and overgrown yards addressed has been a success. "There have been seven old houses torn down just in the past couple of weeks," he explained. "We're still sending out letters, but we're also running an ad in the paper this week thanking the property owners for their cooperation in making Piggott a better place. And, we're also reminding them that we will continue to identify problem areas and address them--in court if needed."

In other business the council--

Was informed Billy Hardin would be handling maintenance and repair for both the city general and parks and recreation department for the summer. Hardin was hired last year with that stipulation.

Reviewed and approved the legislative audit report for 2014.

Heard an update on efforts to have a pump from the main lift station repaired.

Discussed city vehicles, and agreed to allow the city car to be rotated into the fleet and then earmarked for trade. At Poole's request, the next city car will be a police-equipped SUV, which would later be rotated into the fleet for the police department.

Were updated on the efforts to replace the community center roof, with Poole noting the bidding process is still underway.

Heard an update on the Safe Roads to School grant effort by the Piggott School District. The grant will be paying for the installation of safety lights at the school crossings on Main Street, and for safety lights and a speed bump on South Garfield, between the main PHS campus and the old gym. Poole indicated the bid opening will be conducted in mid-May.

The council also voted to hold the regular May meeting at noon on Monday, May 16, at city hall due to a scheduling conflict.

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