Heber Springs City Council voted unanimously Thursday to add two positions to the Heber Springs Police Department, in hopes of attracting more seasoned law enforcement. Council members Sugg and Foster were absent.

“We’ve had no new officers in the past 8-10 years,” said Heber Springs Police Chief Brian Haile.

“I need people on the street who know what they’re doing.”

According to Haile the city has 16 officers for population of 7,200.

“We’re running fewer officers per capita than any similar-sized community,” Haile said.

Council members also approved the purchase of a Dodge Charger for the department at a cost of $36,533.

“We can’t expect them to do their jobs without the right tools,” said council member Jim Adams.

The department is also expecting to take delivery of three Doddge Durango SUVs soon.

“We’ve got to get away from piecemeal equipment,” Haile added.

In the month of June, the police department generated 127 incidents, including working 11 car accidents, and serving 31 warrants.

Clint W. Bell from CWB Engineers gave a brief presentation to city council members explaining the blanket contract that is renewed annually with the city protects both parties and results in quicker response time for infrastructure repairs. A workshop that had been scheduled to go over the details of the work orders was cancelled, prior to the city council meeting.

After Bell’s presentation, the council voted on three work orders with CWB Engineers.

Work Order No. 1 for $98,500 worth of work on Sulphur Creek Trails for design and layout of a multi-purpose trail through the city. The work will include nine miles of trail with two ARDOT highway crossings and coordination with the Greers Ferry Lake Trails Council. The council approved the work order with council member Mellissa Choate casting a “nay” vote, citing the cancelled workshops.

Work Order No. 2 for $166,000 worth of design and layout of work on stormwater improvements in the downtown area. The work will include two crossing on Main Street and drainage improvements along Third Street and Fifth Street. RPR Services (construction observations) will be billed under a separate contract at a future date.

The council approved the work order. There were no “nay” votes.

Work Order No. 3 was for $64,500 worth of design and layout work on stormwater improvements in the Lohawk/Hwy. 25 B. and Trailwood/Hwy. 25 B. areas. Easements and routing will be coordinated with the city. RPR Services (construction observations) will be billed under a separate contract at a future date.

The council approved the work order. There were no “nay” votes.

The operational need to have a fourth full-time firefighter on duty forced the Heber Springs Fire Department to request the city council upgrade a part-time firefighter position to full-time status. The Heber Springs City Council voted to do so. Alderman Sharon Williams cast the only “nay” vote.

Heber Springs Fire Chief Jason Robitallie pointed out that while a full-time firefighter makes $43,900, the actual take-home minus benefits, is closer to $11 an hour.

In other city business, the council:

Approved $3,000 to purchase several large dumpsters for cardboard collection from the schools, businesses, and the hospital.

Grandfathered in an existing encroachment 111 W. Searcy and quieted a title for a property on Boluder Lane.

Heard an audit and report on the water system.

June meeting recap

Council member Rebecca Prince, seconded by council member Adams moved to authorize the mayor to execute an amendment to the lease agreement for Fire Station No. 5 with Survival Flight, Inc., modifying tenant improvement for the amount of $1,000 per month for tenant improvements ending in March 2022. The motion passed unanimously by those members present.

Council member Prince, seconded by council member Choate moved to authorize the mayor to execute an amendment to the lease agreement for Fire Station No. 2 with Survival Flight, Inc., modifying tenant improvement for the amount of $1,500 per month ending in March 2022. Total of both contracts paid as of May 2021, was $49,000, still owing $22,000. The motion passed unanimously by those members present at the June meeting

Council member Adams, seconded by council member Sugg moved to approve the write off of the debt of $220.17 from J&K Automotive and $163.70 from Maddog Custom Bike Shop and to place on a Do Not Rent/Open Account list with the city. The motion passed with unanimously by those members present.

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