Rector Council Discusses Upgrades to FD

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Rector City Council discussed options for upgrading the fire department during its meeting Monday.

Rector fire chief Huston Bowden told council members the fire department has been awarded a $15,000 matching grant by the Arkansas Division of Rural Services' rural community development program.

Bowden then outlined options for the city to proceed with renovation and upgrade of the fire department facility and equipment. The first option, he said, is to construct a 30-foot by 75-foot addition to the existing fire station as well as renovation of the interior of the structure and heating and air conditioning modernization. The option also includes replacing old parts, purchasing a cutter and updating the department's communication tools.

Bowden provided a ballpark figure of $120,000, which would cost the city $105,000 after applying the grant. Of that, a large chunk is for the added space at the fire department.

The other option is flexible, Bowden said, as the city could take on portions of the first option with the grant money and pay for the remaining items as budgeted money remains available.

Cost of the fire station addition is key to the first option, as bids for the project would specify the actual cost. "We don't know how much the building will cost," Bowden said. "It could be $75,000 or $43,000. Do we bid out both projects?"

"We know we're going to do it," said Mayor Teresa Roofe, who added that the fire department budget is in solid shape after yielding purchases and paying off a loan. Roofe told Bowden to be be as specific as possible when seeking bids before reporting back to the council at a later meeting.

The council also decided to further proceed with a project to repave the parking lot at the Rector Public Library. The city will hire an engineering firm to survey the lot and provide plans and specifications for the city to examine prior to deciding on the next step.

City superintendent Todd Watson said he believes a door will need replaced at the library in order to completely repair the parking lot, but engineers could verify or deny the claim. He told the council water has been entering the facility, making the parking lot issue important to the library.

"I know that's a lot of money on a $40,000 parking lot," Watson said of the potential engineering work. He added that the city is paying for excessive maintenance of the parking lot and "right now is our chance to fix it."

According to Times-Democrat archives, paving the lot has been a topic of interest this year and has come to the forefront following donation to the library of a bronze sculpture of two children reading. At the May meeting of the city council, Watson suggested excessive patchwork had led him to believe the lot needed a complete overhaul.

Watson also updated the council on a recent project to improve the quality of Donaldson Street. He said workers have been sent to Rector to replace the four-inch stripes with five-inch stripes. He added that reflectors are being added "to help motorists avoid trees near the road." Watson said as of Monday night, six of 12 reflectors had been placed.

During his fire department report to the council, Bowden requested and received permission from the council to adjust the department's roster. Bill Dooley and Brad Green both resigned from the department, while Jeffrey Wolfenbarger was approved by the council to join the fire department.

It was also announced that Monday's meeting is the last 7 p.m. start of meetings this year. Beginning Nov. 7, the city council will meet at 6 p.m. in coordination with daylight savings time.

Armory Sale Finalized

Athletes and other groups in Rector will soon have an indoor practice facility.

The Rector City Council officially authorized Mayor Teresa Roofe to sign a deal selling the city's armory to the Rector School District on Monday. The city and school district had previously agreed to the deal, which sends the armory and roughly two acres of land to the schools in exchange for $10,000.

"I think it's going to be a very handy facility," Rector School District superintendent Johnny Fowler said Tuesday morning. The city has done a great job. They've been great to us."

Fowler said the district wants to use the new space for athletic teams and other clubs as an indoor facility for training. He added that the city will be welcome to use the facility for its sponsored sports.

The city and school district had agreed to the deal in September, but had to wait for survey work to be complete.

Fowler attended the city council meeting in June and said the armory may also be used for other programs within the district. He said the FFA, art club and science club all have events that could be held in the building. He added that the multi-purpose building at the elementary school is booked, leaving teams and clubs to look for alternative places to hold practices and events.

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