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The Helena Arkansas Daily World - Helena, AR
  • Council discusses retaining attorney

  • Tuesday night's city council meeting saw Mayor Arnell Willis and Police Chief Uless Wallace on the proverbial hot seat regarding the recent articles in The Helena World about the retaining of an attorney for the chief following a Feb. 13 shooting incident on West Cleburne Street. The agenda included other topics of discussion...
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  • Tuesday night's city council meeting saw Mayor Arnell Willis and Police Chief Uless Wallace on the proverbial hot seat regarding the recent articles in The Helena World about the retaining of an attorney for the chief following a Feb. 13 shooting incident on West Cleburne Street. The agenda included other topics of discussion ranging from passing an ordinance making it easier for the city to repave streets to debates over the base pay ordinance discussion headed by Don Etherly.
    The meeting began with Wanda Crockett (Ward 1) asking why there was no treasurer's report, citing that City Treasurer Patrick Roberson had not given the council one yet this year. Councilman Christopher Franklin noted that the last time the council was given a report was in November 2013.
    "How can we make financial decisions when we don't have this report?" asked Franklin.
    The council then discussed the passage of an ordinance that would shorten the referendum period from 90 days to 30 days. Ordinance No. 6 passed with 8 votes (Clark, Roberson and Davis were absent).
    Etherly addressed his concerns with the base pay ordinance. He noted the after doing research on past ordinances dating back to 2009, Etherly found, "A mess on how we operate." He continued, "We have items in our most recent budget that don't even exist in the base pay ordinance."
    He cited as an example the position of chief-of-staff, which position has a base pay but is not in the budget.
    "We have corporals at the police department and engineers at the fire department that do not exist in the base pay ordinance. Etherly described, "The base pay is what creates the job and the budget is what funds the job."
    He recommended that the past ordinance be "cleaned up" and revisited at a later date.
    Also discussed in the council meeting was the issue of street paving. Each ward in the city has an opportunity to provide a list of streets in their respective areas that are in need of paving. Councilman Jay Hollowel stated, "We are going to be getting revenue in on this bond issue project." He continued, "If there are any council members that haven't submitted a street list we need that done as soon as possible. Thus far only three of the five wards have submitted a list for their wards. No list has been submitted by Ward 1, Ward 3, or Ward 4. Though paving will not start until June or July at the earliest, Holowell noted, "All these things are happening and it takes time to get prepared."
    Holowell then noted, "I do not know how many of you all were out [of electricity] yesterday (Monday), but we had a tremendous number of Entergy workers and some of their contractors that were in our town and they did a wonderful job." He went one to say "I think it would be good if we passed a resolution just thanking Entergy and their subsidiaries and subcontractors for their hard work." The council agreed unanimously to pass the resolution.
    Page 2 of 2 - Councilman Larry Brown then addressed the recent goings-on regarding the retaining of Jimmie Wilson as an attorney for the police chief following the Feb. 13 shooting incident on West Cleburne Street, leaving three wounded, including a H-WH policeman.
    Mayor Willis responded to Brown's questions, noting "I want to go on record before we get into a long drawn out discussion on this. His [Wilson's] services were retained out of what was perceived as an emergency situation by the chief. When I became aware that that had happened, then I terminated his services, saying that we did not need it. So it is a mute issue tonight because he is no longer representing the police department."
    Brown then asked the mayor where things were with the state police investigation involving the same incident. City Attorney Chalk Mitchell replied, "The investigation is still ongoing. To address the question about what did Jimmie Wilson do – he had already done work by the time the mayor knew about it based on his interaction with the chief. Also the state police designated that Saturday [following the shooting] as the day that the police chief and other deputies would give statements. That created some anxiety and also I think there is a big misunderstanding about what the city attorney does." Mitchell noted, "I represent everybody in this city, unless there is a conflict."
    Councilman Joe St. Columbia asked Mitchell "Were you respectfully contacted by the chief?" Mitchell replied, "I was brought in later in the game and if they would have brought me in earlier then we would not have had this."
    The Helena World asked Chief Wallace about Officer Matthew Jarrett’s condition.  Wallace replied that the officer was recovering with limited range of motion to his wounded shoulder. 

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