A lively discussion involving unsightly property and occupational licenses turned into a heated debate at Tuesday night's Helena-West Helena City Council session.

A lively discussion involving unsightly property and occupational licenses turned into a heated debate at Tuesday night’s Helena-West Helena City Council session.

Code Enforcement Officer Tequila Martin addressed several concerns regarding an argument over Joe Hughes' place of business on Biscoe Street.

Martin told the city council, "Mr. Hughes was at fault for operating a business in a residential zone and not obtaining an occupational license for conducting business within city limits."

A lively debate began when Martin explained that Hughes' property was unsightly. Councilman John Huff told Martin, "If you were worried about what was going on now you would be out in the city doing your job on all these blocks that Mr. [Larry] Brown said people are working on cars in their yards all over the city."

Martin replied, "It's one me."

Following a lengthy and loud debate over the procedures, Mayor Jay Hollowell concluded the debate saying, "The proper thing to do is to ask Mr. Hughes to screen that property and clean up and get that property where it is screened. It's not asking him to get rid of anything."

Following her presentation to the council about Hughes' property, Martin retired from the podium. When Huff told Hollowell that he had more questions and that Martin needed to return to the podium, Martin refused to respond to Huff's questions.

Huff said, "We are the king slum lords of the city of Helena-West Helena. Go down Sebastian Street. That is a salvage yard. Go to your daddy's place. That is a salvage yard. We have a place on the same street [as Mr. Hughes] that used to be a gas station. What did she do to that? It's horrible. But she picked this man? Who led her to Mr. Hughes? Mr. Hughes is a citizen just like I am and there are a whole lot more citizens in this city and I want her up here because I have some questions for her and I think it is disrespectful for her to just walk off and slap her gums at Mrs. [Wanda] Crockett and we are paying her!"

Huff continued, "And another question mayor: how many businesses are paying their occupational license in this city? There are several businesses that say they are not going to pay it and hadn't paid it and I want to know who has been paying."

Wanda Crockett followed, "And how can you sell Mr. Hughes an occupational license if he is not zoned for it?" Hollowell responded, "Good question. I agree."

Chief of Staff Lynn Chadwick began to explain the various commercial and residential zones in Helena. Huff got upset that Chadwick had to be the one to explain the zoning rather than the code enforcement officer. After demanding that Martin return to the podium to explain the issue, Huff removed himself from the chamber while Chadwick continued to explain the zones on Biscoe Street.

In other council business, Southern Bancorp's Sandra Lee's reported on the entrepreneurial mindset workshop slated for June 23-26.

"The first day is a workshop that will help individuals to think and open up a business for themselves and what better way to show that than to have food trucks." noted Lee.

She noted the food trucks that have been requested for the event include Slabby's, the Helena-West Helena Fire Department, Stax to Go, and Roadkill Grill.

"If this concept catches on, we would like to call it 'Food Truck Tuesday,'" said Lee.

The council moved to permit Lee the needed permissions to hold this event.

Darryl Starks approached the council seeking a permit to hold the first annual Independence Day weekend concert on July 5 on the Cherry Street pavilion.

"This year's event will be a tribute to B.B. King since the Blues originated in the Delta and I wanted to do something for my hometown," said Starks. Starks told The Helena World the lineup would include Sir Charles Jones, Calvin Richardson, Terry Wright, and Karen Wolfe.

The last major item discussed Tuesday night included Civil Service commissioner Will Tate's recommendation to upgrade H-WHPD officers Dennis Cox and John Bailey's pay according to their job description. Tate noted that these two officers have been employed for several years without the appropriate pay raise.

Rather than grandfathering the officers in with an increase in pay, the officers will be required to take a test to justify their wage increase and their level of employment with the H-WHPD.