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Retirements highlight council meeting

By John Miller, 03/22/22 3:19 PM

PRESCOTT – March’s meeting of the Prescott City Council was one of farewells.

In the February meeting Robert Loe, city recorder/clerk, tendered his resignation, which is effective on March 31. He was presented with a plaque and copy of a letter to the editor he’d written when the Nevada County Picayune still existed. The other farewell was to councilman Jerry Hightower, who’s last day is also March 31. Hightower told the group he’s not getting out of the ministry, but is becoming a missionary working with veterans and first responders.

Otherwise, it was business as usual. Mary Gowin, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office, gave the council members pictures of property that’s been cleaned up, showing progress has been made. The first round of houses to be razed, she said, should come in April. At this time the city is waiting on Centerpoint Energy to make sure no gas is connected to the properties. Once this is done, the next step is to work with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), which will take about two weeks.

The council was informed of trash pick up in town. Godwin said more than two dozen bags have been picked up throughout the community. She also said the paperwork is back on the property donated to the city by L.J. Ernest, and reminded the council to go over the zoning proposals and let her office know if any changes need to made.

She continued, saying her office received a letter from GSS, a tower company from Iowa, concerning Union Pacific Railroad planning on putting a communication tower in the downtown area, on the other side of the caboose. Her office is taking comments from the public at this time as the proposed location for the 175-foot tower is in the downtown historic district that’s listed on the National Historic Registry.

Representatives from GSS, she said, told her the company is doing its due diligence. Godwin said city officials need to talk to UP to find out why they want to put the tower there. Godwin has visited with the Depot Museum and told they’re opposed to a tower being put there as well. GSS, she continued, wants letters from local officials and residents stating their views on the proposed tower location. She added the Arkansas Department of Heritage will be contacted about this as well.

The property is zoned industrial. However, there is a time factor as there’s only two weeks to get this done.

City Attorney Glenn Vasser said the tower would be in close proximity to the museum in a historic area. He added the tower would destroy the significance and appearance of the area and said this is not what the zoning status calls for.

The tower would solely be for UP communications, nothing else, Godwin said. She will call UP to see if the tower wouldn’t be as effective outside of town.

Questions were raised about the location of the tower in connection to the city’s water and sewer system. This will be checkedĀ  by Perry Nelson, superintendent of the Water and Sewer Department.

Nelson asked the council to approve the continued us of A.L. Franks Engineering to provide engineering services for the city’s water and sewer projects. He told the council a request for qualifications was advertised statewide with eight companies responding. However, Franks was the closest and has done considerable work with Prescott over the years. Approval was granted.

Mayor Terry Oliver talked about Loe’s retiring as city recorder/clerk, saying the city is losing a lot of experience. Loe, he said, was a member of the council from 2006-2017, and became the recorder/clerk in 2017, holding the post until his retirement. He was presented with a laminated copy of a letter to the editor and a plaque in honor of his service.

Loe said this was more than he expected, and he hadn’t expected to have to retire, but family comes first. He read the letter he’d written to the Picayune, which pointed out the good things going on in the city, as well as ongoing problems, such as high utility bills. “Prescott’s on the right track, we just need to get through tough times.”

Oliver also recognized Hightower’s resignation. Hightower recommended Phyllis Hicks as his replacement saying she’d do a good job.

Hightower asked if he could continue working with the city’s 4th of July fireworks show, and was approved for this.

Oliver also urged the council to go over the zoning information they have as a representative will be coming to discuss it in a few months.

Ivory Curry thanked the Prescott Police Department for coming out to Spring Break Day at his community center. He said their presence added value to the event and helped build relationships with young people who aren’t in trouble.

It was pointed out trees will be planted at the volleyball court for Arbor Day at 10 a.m. on April 7.