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Meeks, Nelson honored; sewer situation addressed

By submitted, 05/17/22 4:39 PM

PRESCOTT – Honors and awards kicked off the May meeting of the Prescott City Council.

Susie Meeks was presented a plaque for her time on the panel. She has been a member for 24-years. Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver said Meeks helps keep him in ling, reminding him to always do the right thing. Meeks said she appreciates the honor, adding it’s been a long 24 years, but she’s enjoyed it all. “I’m for doing right.”

The second award went to Perry Nelson, superintendent of the Water and Sewer System. This was a wastewater system recognition award. Oliver thanked Nelson for all he’s done for the city, adding he’s been here since 1976. Nelson said he appreciated the award, adding it recognized the work it takes to keep a water system going. This, he continued, was the first time in three years a conference has been held due to Covid-19.

Mary Godwin kicked off the business part of the meeting letting the council know the first house of the year has been taken down, with seven others on the original list. She told the council letters have been sent to those who haven’t mowed their lawns yet, adding even though there’s been a lot of rain, people could have mowed a few times. The city, she continued, has been lenient because of all the rain. Godwin asked the council to let her know if they see yards that haven’t been mowed, saying she’ll take pictures and send letters.

She says guidance is needed when it comes to condemning houses, and she’s been assisted by Bruce Bean and City Attorney Glenn Vasser. One house in particular, at Second and Vine has had nothing done with it for years. Godwin asked what the council wanted to do, saying condemnation is a lengthy process that takes months, but she would like to start with this mobile home. The council agreed.

This was followed by the council approving Smiles Dentist of Arkansas to sublease the old Nevada County Health Unit to United Careers and Education, LLC. Vasser said Smiles is still under contract for the building through the end of  2023 as the business agreed to a five-year deal. He said Smiles has been paying the lease and utilities and has been working with Brittany Moss and her venture United Careers and Education. Moss, he continued, has been renting a house across from Hillcrest, but needs to expand to offer more courses. She’s been looking at different options, but kept coming back to the Smiles building, wanting to sublease it. Vasser said the sublease will be with Smiles.

Moss wants to knock out three walls to make classroom space and has had a contractor provide estimates. Vasser said it should be a simple job, with Moss footing the tab. She will be paying $1,000 a month in rent for her part of the lease with Smiles paying the rest. Moss will also pay the utilities.

Vasser reminded the council the city spent a lot to get the building up to speed for Smiles, with the lease agreement for five years at $2,000 a month. Smiles has been unable to find a replacement dentist and is looking to move on. He pointed out Smiles couldn’t do a sublease without the city’s consent. The sublease, he continued, is basically the same as a lease. Moss will pay Smiles, with Smiles paying the city until the lease agreement ends Dec. 31, 2023. The second part, he said, is Moss asking for a five-month extension of the lease after December, with her paying $1,000 a month and utilities. Afterwards, she can either extend the lease or outright buy the building.

Prescott Police Chief Ann Jordan asked council members to keep up with the police department through its facebook page, saying it’s doing a lot of good things in the community.

Nelson updated the council on the sewer situation, as well as the sand problem at the river. In talking about the sewers, he said there are two real problem areas, on Elm and Webb streets. On Elm, he said, 450 feet needs to be replaced as it was installed in 1911 and is more than a century old. It’s been worked on repeatedly, but needs to be replaced. On Webb, he said, the concrete sewer was installed in 1950, but dirt dissolves concrete over time and this is what’s happening with this sewer now.

He asked the council to approve using America Recovery Plan Act money to help pay for these two projects. The Elm Street work would run $144,000, while the Webb project would be $179,000. The city, he continued, can’t wait to go through normal funding processes, but with the ARPA money, both jobs could be done at once. The council approved. Carl Dalrymple, city accountant, said the city received $306,000 in ARPA funds, with Godwin adding a like amount will be coming to the city on the second round of these monies.

Councilman Howard Austin asked if ARPA money could be used for this. Nelson said it could, as water and sewer programs were on the initial list of approved projects without having to ask.

The council will have to approve resolutions naming the mayor and clerk signatories.

Next was discussion of the problems at the river. Nelson said there are two problems, first, the intake at the river and, second, the sewer plant. Sewer plants are designed to last 20 years, and Prescott’s is 20 years old. He said it’s still passing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, but not as effectively as before. “It won’t be able to meet the requirements for much longer. We have preliminary plans in place for both, but we’ll need resolutions to move forward.”

Nelson reminded the council first decided to remove sand from the intake valve in 2017, but six months later, more sand had covered them and has been removed three times to date. The sand bar, he added, has moved 200-yards downstream and nothing can be done about it. He offered two options, 1: continuing to clean out the valves annually, or 2: to move the intakes somewhere they can be blown out with air.

The meeting ended  with Larry Faulkner asking the city to do something about his neighbor’s farm animals, saying they get in his yard and cause damage, along with leaving their droppings. This has been going on for seven years, he said, with Faulkner complaining to the PPD. While acknowledging the city has an ordinance for farm animals within city limits, he said it needs to stop. Faulkner said he doesn’t want a confrontation with his neighbor, but wants the animals off his property.

Bean said the ordinance was passed in 1979 requiring one acre of land per farm animal, with the exception being fowls, which were not to run loose.

Faulkner also complained about trucks driving too fast over the overpass, saying they’ll kill someone someday, and asked the city to look into the cemetery where he bought two plots when his wife died, but now there’s other graves around hers and nowhere for another to be put.