The Heber Springs City Council meets Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Heber Springs Community Center. While not on the early agenda, it is expected there will be some discussion regarding the leaf and limb program.
During the Feb. 16 meeting, an ordinance of termination was presented for Greers Ferry Lake Total Property Maintenance, along with a motion to give notice of default, pursuant to the terms of contract, dated Nov. 17, 2022.
The Heber Springs City Council also voted against paying an invoice of $15,000 to Greers Ferry Lake Total Property Maintenance. Council members Andy Echlin, Melissa Choate, and Jim Lay were absent, but there was a quorum. Council member J. P. Hodges abstained from voting. Greers Ferry Total Property Maintenance originally made the request in January, stating it was operating in the red, due to unforeseen exceptional amounts of pickup, hiring additional employees, and issues with dumping charges and availability.
An ordinance clearly defining what qualifies as yard waste for leaf and limb removal was also tabled. Such an ordinance would spell out whether or not fines should be established for tree service and lawn care companies that exacerbate the problem of limbs and leaf debris in the city. For example, what if an entire tree is cut down and placed by the curb? Does it need to be cut into smaller pieces? If so, what size? Does old sod count as yard waste? If boxwoods and holly bushes are dug up from a home’s landscaping, are they considered yard waste?
An ordinance would also spell out residents’ responsibilities and penalties or actions regarding placing the material where it can get picked up, but not in the street, or in the drainage areas.
On the agenda for this week’s meeting is a resolution for the tax back program for Mayville Engineering Company, a closing/abandonment on part of N. 4th Street, approval of a Heber Springs Police Department request to apply for Cops Hiring Program (CHP) funds from the U.S. Dept. of Justice. According to DOJ, CHP is a competitive award program designed to provide funding directly to law enforcement agencies to hire and/or rehire additional career law enforcement officers in an effort to increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts. The council will also consider a request to apply for a Arkansas Dept. of Transportation grant, and hear an update from Trane on the city’s energy audit, along with the water department audit.
Additionally the council will make clear which council members and family members are employed by the city such as council member Ali Sugg’s Red River Radio, council member Layne Tubbs’ Visual Identity business, Melissa Choate and her husband, Stephen Choate, who is employed with the Heber Springs Fire Department, and Mayor Kasey Griffin and her husband, Stephen Griffin who is employed with the Heber Springs Police Department.
In February’s meeting the council did amend Ordinance 2023-02, a private club permit application. The original private club permit application was for “The Tap House,” but, with input from the Alcohol Beverage Control Board, the name was changed to “Cartwright Lodge,” and approved. Additionally, another private club permit application, Ordinance 2023-04, for Verona Italian Restaurant, was approved. An invoice from Suddenlink was presented to the council for payment, stemming from an incident in October, where a fiber optic cable was cut during a culvert replacement. Mayor Kasey Griffin stated she had reached out to the Municipal League to see if there was any type of insurance that could help cover the expense. Heber Springs City Attorney Rebecca Prince stated the city can engage in negotiations of settlement, and she would research further into this situation and determine the best route for the city, and until then the council asked to table the invoice. In supervisor reports, Parks and Recreation supervisor Josh Mayes reported that a local Boy Scouts chapter would run the home concession stands for the high school softball and baseball games. However the recreational leagues may not have concessions this season, until an audit can be done to determine the most cost effective avenue for the city. Ideally, the plan is for the concession stands to be run by the city at some point in the future.
Several commission assignments were also made during the February meeting.
Council members Sugg, and Tubbs were appointed to the Advertising and Promotions Commission, along with local business owners Scott Jones. Council member Jim Lay was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
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