Many topics, including the renaming of Ladino Street, the status of the police commission's recommendations, discussion on the aging street department fleet of utility vehicles, and the recent shutdown of the water department pumps, were on the agenda of Tuesday night's Helena-West Helena City Council meeting.
Many topics, including the renaming of Ladino Street, the status of the police commission’s recommendations, discussion on the aging street department fleet of utility vehicles, and the recent shutdown of the water department pumps, were on the agenda of Tuesday night’s Helena-West Helena City Council meeting.
First on the agenda was Gracie Gonner who discussed the renaming of Ladino Street. Over half an hour was spent debating and discussing the topic.
Gonner told the council, "Members of the West Helena Church of God in Christ want to give honor where honor is due." Gonner noted that she wants to honor Superintendant Alex J. Smith by renaming Ladino Street for the reverend. "I am so thankful to God for such a pastor." Gonner handed the council a packet that included a signed petition from residents.
According to Gonner, "It is of utmost importance that we recognize the many accomplishments of such a man of stature who loved God and loves his community and we need to recognize his accomplishments by renaming the Ladino Street area from Martin Luther King Drive to Washington Street." She concluded, "We need to give him his flowers while he lives." The council discussed at length the logistics of renaming a street.
Councilman Jay Hollowell told Gonner, "If you rename this street there will be residents affected by this name change."
To change a street name, 9-1-1 would need to be altered, new maps would need to be printed, each resident would have to change their address, new street signs would have to be created, census data would need to be changed in Washington, D.C, phone books would need to be changed, the post office would need to be notified, and emergency workers would need to be notified and educated on the change in street names as well. Fourteen residents would be affected by the change and only five of the 14 names appeared on the petition.
The renaming of Ladino will be discussed in more depth at the next council meeting on April 18 to give Gonner time to petition the remaining nine residents in the affected area.
Concerns regarding drainage problems on Springdale Road at Rockhouse Church were next on the agenda. Because of the water drainage from the ridge, the grate connecting Springdale Road and the church driveway holds water and caves in during heavy rains. The issue will be revisited after the city determines if the landowner is responsible for repairs.
The meeting took a turn when Elija Mondy was recognized by the mayor to discuss the status of the implementation of the police committee's recommendations. See related article.
Next on the agenda was the street department’s proposal for a replacement “lightning loader/knuckle boom” utility truck. Street Department Manager Oscar Hoskins noted that unit 106 was purchased in 2006 at a cost of $60,000. Hoskins provided the council with maintenance records of unit 106, noting that the vehicle has had continuous engine problems, including several injectors and pump replacements, IDM computer problems, replaced pistons and rocker arms and the vehicle has had a complete engine replacement. He relayed that “Unit 106 has incurred the same cost to operate over the past 36 months as a new vehicle with warranty and service plan that covers a 48 to 60 month period.” He continued, “The total operational cost for unit 106 was $119,069 while a new vehicle costs $125,000.” The council approved the purchase of new vehicles for the street department not to exceed $251,722.
The last item on the agenda was a discussion regarding the broken pumps at the water department. He noted that of the three pumps in downtown, only one is operational.
John Edwards noted that, “I work with the Port Authority and it is vital that we help the community whenever possible.” Edwards continued, “When I became aware of this situation with the pumps being out I had a series of meetings and we are getting a preliminary cost ranging from $175,000 to $200,000 to get these pups replaces and I am looking at two grant sources and I have gotten some very positive feedback from the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission who have emergency funds for capital improvements… they can provide up to $100,000 in emergency funding. Southern Financial Partners also has an opportunity to apply for some funding.”