Newly elected council members Nick Adams, Ward 2 Position 2, Louis Short, Ward 1 Position 2 and Karen Jackson, Ward 3 Position 2 were ready for their first Heber Springs City Council meeting of the year. They joined Chris Foster, Ward 1, Position 1, Paul Muse, Ward 2 Position 1, Sharon Williams, Ward 4 Position 1, Maureen Harrod, Ward 3 Position 1 and reelected Jim Lay, Ward 4 Position 2.
Council members discussed and decided to take the Mayor’s emergency equipped Dodge and give it to the police department. Councilwomen Maureen Harrod led the discussion on using the car for that purpose because it was purchased for that reason last year, to hand it down to the police department. Councilman Paul Muse suggested buying a new Tahoe for the Mayor with the idea of equipping it for a K9 unit in a couple years, and handing it down to the police department. A new police car was on the agenda after Officer Jeff Hiltz totaled his police car in a chase earlier in the month.
Harrod gave her opinion on the city getting in the habit of buying a new car every two years for the Mayor. Councilwomen Harrod opposed the last vehicle purchase and did not like the suggestion from Councilman Muse and proposed using the payoff from the insurance for the police car to buy the Mayor a car. After Police Chief Bobby Walker told the Council the K9 unit is still under observation and possible upcoming retirement of the dog in a couple of years, Muse withdrew his suggestion and agreed with Harrod. The payoff from the insurance company for the vehicle is $16,650. During the discussion Mayor McPherson said he would be happy with anything the council decided, even receiving a stipend to drive his own vehicle if that was the wish of the council. The Council voted unanimously to use the insurance money to buy the Mayor a car.
Council members passed an ordinance to waive the required bidding for repairs needed at the Water Treatment Plant. The ordinance title reads, An ordinance to waive the requirement of competitive bidding by the City of Heber Springs for the procurement of tube settlers for the water treatment plant; declaring an emergency; and for other purposes. The timeframe to bid the job, purchase the tube settlers and complete the job before peak summer usage was a major concern of Heber Springs Water Department Manager Kent Latch. If the repairs are not completed the possibility of another Arkansas Department of Health violation from the turbidity in the water might happen again. Latch is determined not to let that happen again. Two years ago the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) notified the water department of two violations requiring public disclosure. Mountain Top Public Water Authority and Tumbling Shoals Public Water Authority were also required to notify their customers of the violations at the Heber Springs Water Plant. One violation was discovered after the water department invited the ADH to review its operational procedures. The first violation after review of lab and operational reports showed the water department failed to meet a regulation to control pathogenic microorganisms in water from surface sources or groundwater. The regulation states; ‘Finished water turbidity readings must not exceed 0.3 NTU in more the 5% of the measurement taken in a month’. The other violation was not submitting two samples of the water from the tank. For more information on the Heber Springs Water Department, the January city council meeting look for the next issue of The Sun-Times.