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Council discusses curfew enforcement

By Staff, 06/18/19 10:11 AM

PRESCOTT – Parents and youngsters need to get ready.

Prescott’s City Council, at its June meeting Monday night, talked about having the Prescott Police Department begin enforcing the city’s curfew ordinance again.

According to Councilman Howard Austin, young people have apparently been interfering with the Prescott Fire Department at fire scenes, getting in the way and obstructing the firemen from being able to properly do their jobs.

Prescott City Attorney Glenn Vasser said if the curfew is to be enforced, the city needs to publicize it and let the people know. Prescott Police Chief Joey Beavers said he’ll research the ordinance, see what it says and begin enforcing the curfew.

No one at the council could remember the curfew deadlines, possible fines or anything else about it.

John Brannan, Jr., president of the Bank of Prescott, asked permission to have an ATM built in the alley between the post office and back of the bank. He said it would be a 16-foot by 16-foot structure and there would be room for motorists using the alley to get to the post office’s drop box to get to Main Street.

However, the idea was shot down when Perry Nelson, water superintendent, pointed out the water and sewer lines run down the middle of that alley and service the post office and youth center.

Vasser suggested the bank look at plan B.

Nelson said it’s common to use alleys for utilities because there’s nothing there.

With a 4-1 vote, the council approved a resolution amending the city’s interlocal agreement with the Nevada County Fair Association for a one-time deal with the city providing $3,500 to help repair the bleachers at the rodeo arena. Susie Meeks was the lone naysayer.

The council had a 4-4 deadlock on the issue at the May meeting with Mayor Terry Oliver casting the deciding vote in favor of providing the funding.

Robbie Franks, code enforcement officer, told the council he’s going to start tearing houses down soon. He said Centerpoint Energy has shut off 19 meters and has been asked to shut two more off in a hurry so these houses can be razed first.

Depending on the weather, these houses could begin being demolished next week. He added the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has simplified the forms for tearing houses down and now the forms can be emailed, which will shorten the wait time before demolition can begin.

He said the rules of burning old houses have also changed, requiring them to first be checked for asbestos before they can be torched. If any is found, the asbestos must be removed. Each asbestos check costs the city $250.

Overall, he said, 40 houses will be razed. He added the city is looking for a Bobcat to fill in the sink holes left when houses are torn down.

Franks said he and Oliver met with Tommy Land, state land commissioner, and were told what they already knew about property certified to the state. Basically, the state is only concerned with the land, not any structure on it or whether it’s maintained or not. The city, Franks added, can put liens on the property which would be between the city and the landowner.

“This isn’t going away,” he said, telling the council there are at least 18 properties certified to the state, nine in limbo for unpaid taxes and eight with absentee owners out of state who aren’t cooperating.

Austin said the state is supposed to have funds available for tearing down houses and suggested the city look into getting some of this money.

Another issue, Franks said, is the city doesn’t have the manpower to have someone clean up the lots. The first thing to be done, he told the council, will be to raze the houses on the list then look into what it would cost to clean up the other lots in question. These jobs could be bid out if necessary.

Mary Godwin, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office said there will be a meeting in her office at 6:30 p.m. Thursday with the group working on the rezoning of the city and invited the council to attend.

She also said the drainage project is getting started, but the contractor has a lot to do in a short time.