January 23, 2013 Edition

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Mayor Don House (from left) visited with new council members, Boyce Dixon, Jeff Taylor, Anthony Pinkston and Don Winfrey, before the city council meeting on Jan. 8.

WR Council welcomes
new councilmen

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Mayor Don House welcomed new council members Boyce Dixon, Jeff Taylor, Anthony Pinkston and Don Winfrey at the council's first meeting of the year on Jan. 8. The council also discussed work on a budget for this year and appointed new members to the airport commission and the Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority.

Alderman Anthony Pinkston, who serves as budget committee chair, informed the council that they have cut about $95,000 from last year's budget. The committee is still working on the final version of this year's budget and must have it completed by Jan. 31.

Pinkston said more meetings are planned before the budget is finalized. Since the Jan. 8 meeting, a budget committee meeting was set for today, and a special meeting for the full council should follow soon.

Alderman Rob Combs said he commends the budget committee for the work they have done in light of last year's problems.

"Our city has been operating on about $120,000 less than we were two years ago due to the economy being bad," Mayor House told the council. Our finances began to do better in November and December last year as the economy began to improve a little."

Mayor House asked the budget committee to include a garbage truck for the city in the new budget. The city is down to one truck right now, and it's about seven or eight years old and has been heavily used. The mayor would like to purchase a newer truck, perhaps under a lease/purchase plan, and use the current truck for backup.

House told the council that the 2011 Arkansas Energy Code, which was to provide minimal energy standards for new buildings or additions to existing buildings and was to be passed by the city council, does not have to be adopted by the city at this time.

The Energy Code is about to be updated in the upcoming year. To save confusion in reference and potential financial burden to citizens and contactors, the city has been authorized to pass a resolution and send a letter to the Arkansas Energy Office stating that the city of Walnut Ridge will not adopt the 2011 Arkansas Energy Code at this time.

Once the changes have been made, the city council will pass the amended ordinance in compliance with state law.

In other business the council:

  • voted to appoint Gary Kearby to the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport Commision. He replaces Frank Wilson, whose term expired.

  • learned that C.L. Clark will replace Buddy Doty as a city representative on the NEARIFA board.

  • passed a budget cleanup ordinance to close out last year's budget.

  • learned that Robert Rice is back at work full-time as animal control and code enforcement officer. Rice has been off work for some time after being injured in an accident that destroyed the city's former police department building.

  • heard from Alderman Michael "Button" Wallin that property at the intersection of Northeast Front and Walnut Street needs to be cleaned up after plans for a haunted house to be located there failed, and those who planned the venture left a large amount of debris behind.

  • planned to make sure the curbs at a construction site on Colonial Drive will be cut back as they are too near the highway and are obstructing larger vehicles, as well as some smaller ones.

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