Rector Council Approves Special Vehicle Ordinance
The first order of business at the Rector City Council meeting Monday evening, May 7, was consideration of the ordinance to allow side-by-sides and golf carts on city streets under the specific requirements. The ordinance was heard, and passed on its third and final reading. The ordinance will be published in full in an upcoming edition of this newspaper at which point it will go into effect. City leaders noted residents are advised to thoroughly read the ordinance and follow its stipulations. A supportive group of citizens in favor of the ordinance’s passage was present for the unanimous council vote.
Another ordinance passed on its third reading Monday night calls for a special item on the ballot during the November, 2018 election. In addition to electing city council members, a special ballot item will propose city council members in Rector be elected in staggered four-year terms. As written, the ordinance calls for Position One in both east and west districts to be elected to the first four-year term in November of 2020. Position Two in both east and west districts will be elected for the two-year term, thereby bringing all into the appropriate rotation in November of 2022. The ordinance was approved by the council to place this provision on the ballot. Citizens will see the special item on the November 2018 ballot. City Attorney Kimberly Dale advised the council on the process and all council members voted in favor of moving to staggered four-year terms. It was noted, the advantages of a “yes” vote on this provision would include more continuity on the city council, fewer full election processes, and the rarity of the entire city council being newly elected.Other cities have chosen to make the change in the past, with the Piggott City Council choosing to restructure in the same manner several years ago. The position of mayor is already subject to a four-year term.
Mayor Teresa Roofe explained to the council the process for designating Rector as a Purple Heart City. Mayor Roofe and City Attorney Dale will work with Everett Evans, the Purple Heart representative of the VFW. He will receive the city’s proclamation/application that details how the city supports the military and recognizes the value of such recognition and support of all military personnel, past and present. The Mayor and City Attorney will have the materials prepared for the June city council meeting.
Standard city department reports were given with Superintendent Todd Watson indicating that more property letters and yard letters will be distributed now that the wet season seems to be ending. He reported the city had repaired eight street signs and patched 17 pot holes. He then proposed adding 270 feet of North Ballard to the street paving list requested by the State Highway Department. He and Mayor Roofe will look at this proposal because the time frame would be beneficial to the city budget and the residents. The fire department report indicated five calls in the city and seven calls in the county. The work at the fire station is being completed by volunteers so the work is slow but steady. In police matters, one accident was reported and six items were on the court docket resulting in collection of $1,175 in fees.
In the property issues discussion, Watson said he would make a list of properties forfeited to the state and work with City Attorney Dale to make a plea to the State Land Commission to allow the city to more efficiently address the multiple properties that are effectively abandoned. He indicated one house that does have an owner or caretaker, but is falling into severe disrepair, is the house located at 811 West 5th Street.
Mayor Roofe reported to the council the city did receive approval of a grant written to purchase a new storm siren. The Mayor will pick up the check for purchase of the new system on May 24. Council member Iva Fahr asked the Mayor to look at applying for an Arkansas Rural Development Commission grant and the mayor said she would follow up with Fahr on the proposal.
The council and superintendent Watson, along with Mayor Roofe and City Attorney Dale, expressed frustration and distress by the number of vacant and abandoned houses with absentee land owners or foreclosed situations in Rector. The individuals, in their respective positions, stated that they will work with Dale to have a conversation with the State of Arkansas on how to legally resolve these issues that bring blight to small, rural cities.
Council member David Romine reported that mosquito spraying has begun. Watson mentioned the spraying was a bit late due to the late action of the company which supplies the chemicals. It was also noted that the city reworked the Rector sign on Hwy 49, which had been blown apart and had fallen during one of the April wind storms.