Hope City Board hears reports, votes to waive Hope Water and Light electrical inspection fee

Kenneth Harvel, City of Hope Street Superintendent, speaks to the Hope Board of Directors and Interim City Manager J.R. Wilson last night.

The Hope City Board of Directors flew through a 15-item agenda at February’s first regular meeting last night (soon available in its entirety by video below this story), hearing presentations from numerous speakers, including the Hope-Hempstead Chamber of Commerce executive director, a director of engineering for the East Baking Company facility (previously known as Southern Bakeries), the city and county’s economic development commission’s executive director and two city department heads.

A decision was also made by the board for Hope Water and Light not to charge its customary $15 inspection fee to customers replacing meter boxes or repairing other forms of damage from Winter Storm Mara.

After the call to order, invocation, pledge of allegiance and vote to approve the meetings of the last minutes, the board heard from Director of Engineering for East Baking Company, Frankie Ingersoll. He told the board of the new owner considering plans to buy the warehouse at South Hazel, East Division and South Laurel Streets, which would mean diesel trailer trucks would be blocking South Laurel to load and unload products. Interim City Manager J.R. Wilson told the board it would be provided with options, should the purchase go through, for dealing with the blockage.

Steve Harris, Executive Director of the Hope Hempstead County Economic Development Commission—at least until May of this year when he has plans to retire--provided an annual report on that group’s work.  He said the primary goal for the commission was to retain and help aid in the expansion of local industries and listed several examples over the past year. In recruitment of new businesses, Harris said no new industries had been brought in, though one possibility still remained. 

Another part of Harris’ work involves developing the work force. He said that while unemployment in the city and county is low, the commission still involves itself in promoting to young people the idea of remaining in the area and helping with programs in the schools to enhance worker training.

Next, Christy Burns, Executive Director of the Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce gave a report on the progress of the chamber since Burns took command of the organization last March. The keynote speaker for the next annual Chamber banquet in April is to be former Razorback and current broadcaster on radio and television David Bazzel.

In the next item, the board approved by voice vote the preference of the Hope Housing Authority commission for Sam Bradford to be confirmed for another five-year term as commissioner.

The next items concerned bids for equipment, asphalt and milling. Street Superintendent Kenneth Harvel appeared to answer any questions about accepting the low bid of $88,765 from River Valley Tractor for an excavator.  Asphalt at a low bid of $115.50 per ton will come from Tri-State Asphalt Inc. For Street Milling, a low bid of $2.95 a yard is to be accepted from Dustrol Company. The city board voted to proceed on these based on recommendations from the Street Department.

Sanitation Superintendent Nathaniel Holyfield presented the recommendation to accept the low bid from Houston Poly of $51,000 for trash bags for the coming year.

In the next item, Wilson told the board of the staff’s preference that the $15 electrical inspection fee be waived for reconnecting services after storm damage repair. The board voted unanimously by voice vote in favor.

The purchase of a dump truck, which is needed urgently, was the subject of a reappearance by Kenneth Harvel at the podium.  The purchase had been let out for bid and bids received, but Harvel said the waiting time for the truck if the city accepted the low bid from West-mark was estimated at ten months. Subsequently, Wilson said, he and Harvel had learned a truck could be received more quickly if specifications were changed. The city board approved letting out bids using different specifications.

Wilson’s City Manager’s Report contained eight items, including: a notice that the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a Special Use Permit for Rainbow of Challenges, which wants to build a 5,300 square-foot assisted living home at 500 North Main; a notification of nearly $1.5 million of city funds to invested in CDs with Diamond Bank at rates of return of 4.3, 3.75 and 4 percent; photos of the board to be taken February 21; a grant application; update on the Pocket Park and Kelly Field Lighting; and information about Winter Storm Mara's aftermath. 

He said Hope Water and Light had lost 1,000 customers and had 200 calls. Hope Police had aided in the recovery of a nine-year-old who was reported missing but found after an hour. Trash pickup suspensions were instituted at the end of last week for safety reasons and to allow Sanitation Department personnel to aid in cleanup. Finally, Wilson said he had not heard any reports of injuries from the ice storm.


  • Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christy Burns. Photo by Mark Ross.

  • East Baking Company Director of Engineering Frankie Ingersoll. Photo by Mark Ross.

  • Hope Streets Superintendent Kenneth Harvel. Photo by Mark Ross.

  • Hope Interim City Manager J.R. Wilson. Photo by Mark Ross.

  • Hope Sanitation Superintendent Nathaniel Holyfield. Photo by Mark Ross.

  • Hope-Hempstead County Economic Development Executive Director Steve Harris. Photo by Mark Ross.