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Council abolishes Parks and Rec Commission; approves pool repairs

January 19th, 2007 by

The Monticello City Council met last night with a long list of topics to tackle, including the city pool issue. After much discussion, the Council voted unanimously to continue the repairs and replacement of the liner with contractor Kenny Johnson for a new contract price of $268,083. The original contract was for $242,585 but Mr. Johnson reported that once the project began it was discovered that “the pool is sub-standard construction-wise”. His concern is having to warranty the job for a year, wanting to be confident in the work he’s done. At $268,083 Mitch Rose, the engineer representing the city from McClellan Engineering, projects 5-10 more years use with the current restoration. At this cost, the liner will be replaced with upgraded material, some pipes will be replaced, the diving board will be repaired, a working drainage system will be installed, and the pool lights will be checked and replaced if needed. Alderwoman Sherrie Gillespie asked why the city keeps pumping so much money into the upkeep and maintenance of the old city pool, but was told that this is the first major renovation in the life of the pool, since 1993.

Another major decision reached on the initiation of new Mayor Joe Rogers was his proposal to abolish the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission. Extensive discussion followed this proposal. Rogers responded to Tim Chase’s statement that the city office was taking on more responsibility than they’ve ever had before by saying, “I take full responsibility, 100%”.

As part of this responsibility, Rogers proposed that the city’s Parks and Recreations Commission be done away with, leaving him in control of this area with an advisory board. The Parks Commission has been in place since 1998, serving the community by completing projects such as park improvements, a new baseball complex, a sports complex, among other things. Nevertheless, the Council voted 6-1 with Tim Chase opposing, to grant the disbanding of the Commission.

Just before the meeting adjourned, Parks and Recreation Commission chairman Steve Hartness was given the opportunity to speak. He wanted to voice his concern over the issue and let it be known that the Commission had worked diligently within the boundaries established for them, and that he didn’t understand the decision.

Hartness stated, “Everything we have done has been upfront. I have come to you for two years with budgets and laid it on the line for the city council to approve or disapprove. We’ve accomplished a lot in the past five years. I’m proud of what we’ve done. I’m a little disappointed tonight. I wasn’t considered important enough to even know about this except through the grapevine.”

The mayor argued that he had left a message with Hartness’s wife but Hartness reiterated that he had been contacted at work and on his cell phone on other occasions but wasn’t about the meeting and what was proposed to happen to the commission.

Hartness continued, “There were things in the paper that skirted right on the verge of us being irresponsible with tax money. I hope you don’t think that. I’m not understanding what the difference is in a 15-member advisory board and a parks commission. I’m not understanding how it’s different, other than you’ve got eight more voices or opinions. If something needed done, it’s gotten done.”

He concluded, “I wish ya’ll the best and I’ve enjoyed working with you guys.”

Appreciation for the commission was expressed by Alderwoman Beverly Hudson who said, “I’d like to say they’ve done a tremendous job, and I think that we should thank them for the many hours. I certainly have had no complaints. I think the mayor just wants to take us in a different direction, and we should give him the opportunity.”

Another issue that stirred discussion was the proposal to grant Rogers the ability to approve up to $20,000 in city expenditures without engaging in a competitive bidding process. The previous limit was $10,000. The council also approved that initiative, by a vote of 6-1, with Chase voting against.

Rogers gave his first State of the City address, reading from a prepared manuscript. In it, he stated, “…where others have found persistent problems; let us discover new opportunities.”

Listen to the full meeting on the MonticelloLive-provided podcast here.

2007 State of the City Address by Mayor Joe Rogers

As Mayor of the City of Monticello, I would like to welcome each and every one of you, distinguished guest, city council members, city employees, friends, and fellow Monticellonians. I am honored to uphold our constitutional tradition and bring to you today an account of Monticello’s State of the City Address.

The responsibilities of this office magnify the challenges we will face today, especially when times are difficult. Where others have found persistent problems, let us discover new opportunities. Where others have seen obstacles, let us see a path of a new day, a new way in the history of Monticello.

Many achievements were made and accomplished in 2006, such as the asphalt overlaying and street preparations of more than 2 miles were completed in the amount of $211,215. A car was purchased in the amount of $20,826.50 along with teh equipment for the Monticello Police Department. Fire fighting turn-out gear was purchased in the amount of $35,000 for the Monticello Fire Department. George Lindsey and Bea Tucker were both appointed to the Monticello Housing Authority. Burlington Field Lights were purchased in the amount of $121,210.25 for the engineering, underground wiring, and for the contractor. On April 8, 2006, marked the Grand Opening for Phase II of the Monticello Sports Complex. On August 11-August 19, Monticello hosted the 16 Year Old Babe Ruth Baseball World Series with teams coming from all over the United States.

In addition, grants were obtained by the Delta Regional Authority in the amount of $430,000 and by the Arkansas Department of Economic Development in the amount of $315,000 for assistance in the cost of the construction of a water tank on Old Troy Road. Currently, we are in the process of starting this new water tank.

Many improvements were made in 2006 to the Monticello Municipal Airport. Airport Improvements consisted of construction of seal coat and pavement marking for the runway in the amount of $231,807, of which 95% was paid for by FAA and 5% paid from the state in grant money. The city also purchased a battery powered electric aircraft towing vehicle for the airport in the amount of $14,195. A 50/50 grant was applied for and received in the amount of $9983 from the State Department of Aeronautics for hanger repair at the airport. In Addition, a 50/50 grant was also obtained by the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics for Rehabilitation of the beacon system for our airport.

On January 1, 2007, we began the work we have been set out to do. We must all undertake the great challenges of moving Monticello forward into the future, working together for the greater good of this town and for the people to make Monticello everything it can be and more.

Many accomplishments have been made in 2006, but now our vision of Monticello must never be limited by the circumstances of today. So let us begin today with a pledge that we will seize our moment and write a new history for this city. Join me on this journey. We have a future to create.

Thank you and May God bless you.

Joe Rogers, Mayor
City of Monticello

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One Response to “Council abolishes Parks and Rec Commission; approves pool repairs”

  1. […] first reported on the city council’s decision to repair the pool after the February council meeting. At that meeting, the council hired… […]

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