Piggott Council Talks Drainage, Updated on Damage
Piggott City Hall will be getting a new look in the coming months, following action by the city council at Monday night's regular meeting. Aldermen approved the replacement of the current cloth awning with a metal one in an effort to cut future maintenance costs, with the work to be done in the next several weeks. During the meeting Mayor Jim Poole also provided an update on recent storm damage, the community center roof effort and drainage issues.
Prior to the meeting Poole also updated council on the health of City Clerk Ramona Magee, noting she was hospitalized and awaiting treatment, and requesting prayer.
After dispensing with the usual agenda items, council heard an update on the community center roof project.
"They're running behind, it won't be finished by March 31," Poole indicated. "In fact, they had a little damage when some of the new work was blown loose by the winds over the weekend, but they've already fixed that."
Poole noted the weekend storms left a good deal of destruction along the south edge of town, including some minimal damage to city property. Otherwise, he indicated the city fared well, with no major issues.
The mayor also reported on consideration of bids for the street department, which were reviewed at the last regular meeting. He indicated the city was still seeking information on the low-bidder, and suggested the bids be rejected and the materials re-bid.
"The state no longer requires us to do competitive bidding on asphalt, but we do in order to try to get the best cost," he offered. "The prices are fairly close, but we don't have enough background to give this approval."
Based on his recommendation, council voted to reject the bids and start the bidding process over. The matter passed on a vote of 4-0.
In what proved to be a timely subject, Poole also updated council members on drainage issues on the east side of the city. He reported the problem of a backwash from Big Slough still persisted, allowing water to flow east onto the city agricultural property and the ball diamonds and football field.
"That ditch is the lowest point, and I've watched the water just flow out of Big Slough and west onto our property," he added. "We have permission to install a "flapper" style flood gate and I think we need to proceed."
Following a brief discussion the aldermen concurred, voting to allow the effort to proceed.
"The awning on city hall needs our attention," Poole told council members. "It's dirty and it's leaking and we need to do something about it right away."
He indicated the city had sought an estimate on replacing the cloth material, which would cost about $9,880. On the other hand, Poole noted a metal awning could be installed for less than $12,000, which would require little or no future maintenance.
"If we put up another cloth awning we're going to have to continue to clean and replace it in the future, this will eliminate that need," he surmised. "We also have a couple of small ones at the community center and we'll be replacing those with the same style."
Following a discussion on the matter council members gave approval to replace the current awning on a vote of 4-0.
Piggott Police Chief Don Poole was also in attendance, and reported a new patrolman has been hired.
"We've hired Michael Turner as a new patrolman, he's 30 years old and a Greenway native," Chief Poole noted. "He started working for us part-time in November, and should be attending the August class at the academy."
Chief Poole indicated Turner had received training along with several others late last year in a class conducted by Lt. Sam Williams.
"He conducted the course for him and several others, including a couple of guys for the Greene County Sheriff's Department, and it allows them to be able to work up to 20 hours a week," he explained.
During his update to council, Utilities Director Brian Haley reported the fuel adjustment was favorable for the recent billing cycle, which will be reflected on the upcoming bills. He also indicated the recent high winds had not had a big impact on the local electric department, thanks to the aggressive tree trimming program they've had since the ice storm.
He also reported one of the MLWS bucket trucks was in a shop in Paragould requiring major repair, and noted a new vehicle will likely be in the budget for next year.
Haley also reported the water department continues to work in a maintenance mode, and noted employee Garrett Cook is attending school this week and will be testing soon.
"We've got good crews on all our departments, we're very fortunate to have good help," he surmised.
Late in the meeting Mayor Poole amended the agenda, and informed the council members of an upcoming joint meeting with the Piggott Health Care Facilities Board.
"Although it's mainly to keep the auditors happy, we have to approve the hospital budget each year," he explained. "The hospital board would like for us to meet with them at noon next Wednesday, April 5, at the hospital to consider the budget."
He explained that, by city ordinance, the hospital board is autonomous although state auditors require the city council's oversight.
Poole also broached the subject of a long-standing issue with a 12-foot strip of property north of Ballard Heights. He indicated the property had served as a buffer when the land was first developed by Elmer Ballard, and in the years since has been used for city utility right-of-way.
"Several previous mayors have tried to resolve this issue, and the Ballard family has said they would be glad to deed the property to the city, we just need to get it taken care of," he offered.
City Attorney Kimberly Dale noted she would draft the necessary documents to accomplish the transfer of ownership, and would present those at a future meeting.
In other business, council was informed the Piggott Heritage Car Show organizers had reserved Heritage Park for the week of May 15 to 21, for the annual car show.
"They have the park reserved for that week, but it will still be open for those who want to go out there and walk and such," the mayor explained. "They also have a contingency plan to move to the community center if the weather doesn't cooperate."
Those on hand for the meeting included Mayor Poole, Haley, city treasurer Jamie Cluck, Chief Poole and aldermen Mike Cook, Jamey Parks, Jeff Benbrook and Travis Williams.