Wed March 08, 2023

By Jeff Smithpeters


Hope City Board okays several funding proposals for upgrades, fixes, talks long-term park projects

Mayor Don Still Hope City Board Of Directors Director Mark Ross City Manager Jr Wilson Director Trevor Coffee
Hope City Board okays several funding proposals for upgrades, fixes, talks long-term park projects

The Hope City Board of Directors met last night in City Hall for its first regular meeting of March.

The first regular meeting of the Hope City Board of Directors during J.R. Wilson’s tenure as permanent Hope City Manager took place Tuesday night. Video of it can be seen below this text. During the meeting the board authorized funding to upgrade its radio communications, repair an airport beacon and replace obstruction lights, replace a dumptruck and light Kelly Field with LED bulbs.

Called to order at 7:00 p.m. the meeting began with an invocation and a pledge of allegiance then turned to a brief review of minutes from the previous two meetings. These were approved.

Item five, entitled “Arkansas Public Safety Communications Grant Award” in the agenda, included Wilson’s delivery of the good news that a state grant application had been successful and the city will receive $131,754.75 to buy Arkansas Wireless Information Network radios and set up two talk-groups to be used on the system. Since the grant is a 75/25 percent cost share grant the city would need to cover $43,918.25.

The directors agreed to pay the remaining cost in full from American Rescue Plan Act funds the city still has.  These funds were from a $1.9 trillion Act signed by President Joe Biden to allot to states for fiscal recovery from the COVID-19-related recession.

Item seven pertained to the repair of the municipal airport’s beacon light, which needs a bulb replacement as well as replacement of obstruction lights. These are all on a 60-foot tall tower. The city does not employ a climber capable of going all the way up the tower. Wilson found a contractor in Hot Springs, H&H Electric, who has access to a lift and who has the skills to make the replacements. The item was not budgeted but represents a threat to safety. Darrel Allen, Hope GIS Coordinator and Airport Manager spoke to the need for the work.  The city directors approved the project at a cost of $10,969 which will come from the airport’s budgeted funds.

Wilson reported on another matter at the airport, this time involving the trees that surround it. An Arkansas Forestry Commission employee inspected the 700-800 acre forest and found the need for clear-cutting and replacement of some trees infested with beetles and for the thinning out of trees that had reached full maturity.  Wilson said he would put the project out to bid and the directors would eventually be voting on which contractor to choose.

City director Mark Ross brought up the question of what to do with two structures built by FEMA on the airport grounds. Allen recommended asking local industries if they might buy the structures first. Ross made a motion to put one of the structures on surplus to see if any interested in buying could be generated. After a second, the directors voted unanimously to do this.

Item seven was a consideration of bids for the replacement of a new dump truck. The low bid was $168,006.48 from Artex Truck Center. A 2022 accident totaled a dump truck, for which the city was reimbursed $99,354 by insurance. The board approved paying that as a down payment and then paying $68,652.48 over the next three years at a six percent interest rate. Delivery of the truck may occur as early as next week.

Item eight was a consideration of bids for the Kelly Fields LED lighting project which were sealed but opened on March 2. The project would be entirely funded by the city’s Advertising and Tourist Promotion Commission. The directors voted in favor of Director Trevor Coffee’s motion accepting the low bid of $459,900 on the condition that the Advertising and Tourist Promotion Commission pay the $29,900 amount that the bid was over the budgeted amount. Lights currently used in Kelly Fields will be installed at the city’s soccer field.

Item nine was a discussion among board members about a future “large-scale park project” for the city. Wilson reported speaking to officials at the city of Sherwood, Arkansas who had financed upgrades to their park by pledging portions of Advertising and Tourist Promotion revenue to pay for bonds used to finance the projects. Mayor Don Still suggested ARPA funds could also be used on such a project. Among the projects discussed were the installation of artificial turf at Kelly Field, walking trails around the city or a splash pad at Northside Park,  and improvement of the soccer field. Wilson said the city will be applying for a state grant again this year for the splash pad.

Item ten was the City Manager’s Report. Wilson called for a decision on a day for the directors to participate in a bus tour of city facilities and a goals meeting with department heads afterward. The date was established for April 25, starting at 9:30 a.m. A potential change order will be coming to add wiring to the Streetscape project resulting in a need for a $3-5,000 additional cost. Director Ross moved to authorize the change order. The board approved the authorization by unanimous voice vote.

Wilson also reported on talking with Philip Mobley about the possibility of Mobley developing a travel plaza across from Walmart’s present location as well as a conversation with a representative from Super 8 Motel about possibly converting the motel to an apartment complex.

Wilson said Clifford Knowles had resigned as Hope Housing Authority Commissioner and that a replacement would need to be named by the commission within 45 days of his departure. This time will expire March 25. If it expires, the city directors would appoint the new member. As of now Kim Hollis has replaced Knowles as HHA Chair and Sam Bradford is Vice Chair.

In the ongoing process of remediating the city’s landfill, Wilson said a monitoring well would be dug next week. He reported that he had not yet heard from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality lawyers about the city’s likely not meeting a deadline for remediation work. Wilson hopes the Post-Closure fund would pay for it, but the work would have to be completed regardless of whether the city could find outside funding.

Wilson also said the city will be moving forward with condemnations of properties that had been allowed to stand during the COVID period and that several would be on the next meeting’s agenda.

Wilson closed by saying with the board’s permission he would be taking a few days off for a trip to celebrate 38 years of marriage.

During Citizens Requests Marsha White announced Kids Fun Day would occur at Northside Park March 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. She also told the board that Patsy White, a frequent attendee of city board members and speaker during Citizens Request time had died. Mayor Don Still expressed his condolences and said Patsy White had a good heart.

Director Ross asked about the bridge being stored at Fair Park that had been put on city surplus. Allen replied that after one person expressed interest in purchasing them, no other prospects came forth. Ross also reported that lights were no longer working at the park’s basketball court. Hope Parks Superintendent Summer Powell said she would check on these.