Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Hope City Board

By Staff, 07/7/20 8:01 PM

The Hope City Board met via virtual meeting on Tuesday for their first meeting of July.  Following the pledge and approval of the minutes the board looked at a proposed ordinance provided by the Arkansas Municipal League which was asking cities in the state to consider a resolution that would inform the state’s Congressional Delegation for the need for federal assistance for municipalities.  The board approved the proposed resolution.

Bids had been scheduled to be opened earlier on Tuesday on the City Hall roof.  The city received only one bid and that was for $416,000.  This amount was well over what the city had estimated the project to cost.  City Manager Catherine Cook said they plan to visit with the contractor to see if it could be reworked.  Also the city may reconfigure the project and seek more bids.  Cook said the estimated cost was expected to be $200,000 to $250,000.  Cook also said several other firms had expressed interest but didn’t bid.  Board member Mark Ross who was calling into the meeting from California suggested the city look at a simulated clay tile for the roof project and Cook said they would look into that.  The board agreed to revisit the project later.

The board looked at a sample ordinance encouraging the wearing of face masks.  The ordinance was prepared by the Arkansas Municipal League.  Mayor Montgomery noted the proposed ordinance had been shared by HopePrescott.com and noted the comments that had been shared on the media’s facebook page.  The ordinance was read by the City Manager.  The Mayor noted the Governor does not wish to criminalize not wearing masks but wanted to support businesses that wanted their patrons to wear masks.  Mayor Montgomery also noted there were some citizens participating in the meeting and their comments would be heard although he did ask that they keep their comments to two minutes or less.  The Mayor also said he would allow persons who live outside the city to comment as well.  After Cook read the proposed ordinance, board member Kiffenea Talley asked if any cities had adopted similar ordinance.  Cook noted Russellville and Conway had adopted similar ordinances and Rogers has adopted a stricter ordinance although Cook wasn’t sure it was enforceable.  The Mayor also said he understood the Nashville City Council plans to look at a mask ordinance.  The Mayor noted it isn’t a mandate.  He said if you don’t want to wear a mask, you don’t have to.  It is mainly for education and encouragement.  The Mayor also asked if it would make a difference.  He answered his own question by saying he didn’t know but he would deem it worthy if it saved someone from getting COVID.   Board Member Mark Ross raised several questions and he suggested changing the wording from “requiring” to “encouraging” the public to wear masks.  Ross also said he thought it would help the city avoid liability.  Linda Clark said she was happy with the original wording.  She said she didn’t think the city should “water it down” as the virus isn’t watered down.  The Mayor also noted some businesses are mandated by the state to require a mask.  Board Member Ross said he had been contacted by at least four businesses with concerns about the proposed ordinance and also contacted by citizens.  Board member Trevor Coffee asked if businesses that want to require masks, can they not require them now.  Dr. Coffee also asked how the police could respond to all the businesses that had noncompliance.  Board member Talley said she felt businesses ought to have a right to protect their staff and also felt if patrons couldn’t comply with the business’s wishes that maybe they shouldn’t come in.  Vice-Mayor Don Still asked if a patron wouldn’t leave and wouldn’t wear a mask what would happen.  Police Chief J.R. Wilson said even now if someone came into a business and refused the request to wear a mask and refused to leave, the person refusing to comply could be charged with Criminal Trespass.  Board Member Reginald Easter gave an account of a situation he’d seen at Wal-Mart in which the ordinance might help the business.  The board then opened the meeting up to citizen comments.  The first speaker was in favor of the ordinance and compared it to the fireworks ordinance in the way it protects the public.  Chris Howard was the next to comment.  He said he wears his face mask if a business posts a sign requiring it.  Howard said he didn’t think the city should pass a ordinance and he called such an ordinance “an over reach”.  He suggested bringing it to a vote of the citizens.  He also cited studies that say face masks can potential cause harm.  He said it seemed like a “useless law”.   Several citizens were offered the chance to comment.  Mark Silvey said he thought this was making not wearing a mask a legal requirement and he was flabbergasted.  Hempstead County Assessor Kim Smith complimented the board for addressing the issue.  Jodi Coffee also spoke and noted the Farmers Market is mandated by the state to require face masks.  Vice-Mayor Still said he hated to see the city get into personal business.  When asked if changing the wording from “require” to “encourage” would make a differnce, several board members said it would.  Dr. Linda Clark moved they adopt the ordinance changing “require” to “encourage”.  Mark Ross seconded.  The measure passed unanimously.

Under the City Manager’s report, Catherine Cook noted the heavy rainfall this summer has caused delays from the city although they are working around it.  She also spoke about the possible street renaming in a subdivision on the east side of Hope.  The subdivision has street names which pay homage to the Confederacy.  Cook said the City Attorney has said the board could rename the streets.  Mayor Steve Montgomery said the city should send a letter to each of the 48 homes in the subdivision.  Board Member Mark Ross encouraged the residents to attend the board meetings and voice their opinions.  Kiffenea Talley asked for clarification on the information that would go out in the letter to the residents.  She wanted to know if this was just to inform the residents or to ask if the residents want to contribute.  Vice-Mayor Still said he thought the biggest burden on changing would fall to the residents to determine if they want it changed and how they would want them changed.  Dr. Coffee noted there would be some financial considerations for the residents in changing.  Talley asked couldn’t the city move a little faster to change these street names.  Talley said if the city does not take action then the board is doing a dis-service to the city.  The Mayor said he just wants to get the residents input first.  Vice-Mayor Still says he thinks the names should be changed but the board should give the residents a “heads-up” before changing the names of the streets.  Mayor Montgomery agreed the names should be changed but first the city should hear from those residents.  No action was taken but the board appeared to be in agreement.

Dr. Trevor Coffee asked about the replacement of the damaged gutters at the Hub.  J.R. Wilson said the cost of the materials would be about $400 and the labor about $1,500.  Dr. Coffee also noted there was water standing in the storage room at the Hub this morning.   Chief Wilson said he would check that.  Mark Ross asked if any of these problems should fall back to the contractor or engineer.  Cook noted the building was out of warranty but Chief Wilson said an engineer would check it this week.

Cook gave an update on the swimming pool.  She said some filter media has come in.  They are cleaning the pool and hope to test it soon to see if the sand filter was the problem.  Dr. Linda Clark asked if the pool could be covered during the off-season.  Cook noted they could look at a covering but this particular pool has to be drained in the winter.

Cook noted they are getting complaints about Rose Hill Cemetery but the contractor can’t mow due to the rain.

Cook an update on 6th Street.  She said Centerpoint wants to know when the city to wants to bid the job.  Cook said they wanted to bid it last summer and she passed this on to Centerpoint.  She noted A.T. & T. isn’t responding to emails.  She also said she thinks the city should visit with elected officials as utilities using city right of way are failing to respond to city inquiries.

Cook gave an update on the “Street Scape” project on 2nd.  She said Kiamichi had said the work to their rail crossing was originally priced at $15,000 but now Kiamichi says it would cost $70,000.  Cook said the grant would cover the increased amount but the city’s 20% match would increase accordingly.  Cook says that wasn’t good news but it shouldn’t slow down the project if the board wants it done.

The meeting then adjourned.