Thu June 06, 2024

By Jeff Smithpeters

Community Announcements Politics Local

In first regular June meeting, Hope City Board dedicates Highways 29, 67 to two fallen soldiers, approves leak repair and railroad tamping, talks parks projects

Hope City Board Mayor Don Still City Manager J.r. Wilson City Director Trevor Cofee Mcclelland Engineering Dan Beranek Sales Tax
In first regular June meeting, Hope City Board dedicates Highways 29, 67 to two fallen soldiers, approves leak repair and railroad tamping, talks parks projects
The Hope City Board in Tuesday evening’s first regular meeting of June approved funds for an emergency repair to piping that had virtually collapsed in the southern part of town, funds to stabilize the ground beneath the railroad track that the city owns, approved the naming and the dedication of Highway 29 North and South to two soldiers from Hope who died in action in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Our video of this meeting can be seen just below the photo section following this article. 

The meeting began with an invocation said by Mayor Don Still, then the pledge of allegiance. After that came the review of minutes from the previous meeting, with Director Trevor Coffee detecting the possibility of confusion in the City Manager’s report section which had City Manager J.R. Wilson referring to a list of items still to be attended to by contractors at the Sixth Street project as both yet to be done and finished.  The edit was made after Coffee made a motion to make the correction and the board voted to do so. Wilson said as of now there are still items that have yet to be addressed by the contractor. 

The next agenda item was for the Hope For the Future Project. A working meeting was held starting at 6:00 p.m. with members of the city board and the City Manager present as well as a contingent from McClelland Engineering of Little Rock with Dan Beranek, President of the firm, answering the board’s questions. The drift of board discussion was very much toward making the aquatic/rec center larger with two basketball courts and a separate walking track around them along with upgrades at both Fair and Northside Parks. The possibility of use of land already owned by the city near the intersection of 16th Street and Spring Hill Road was also explored to save funds. 

By that meeting’s end the members seemed to be working toward an up to $24 million expenditure, which would make it necessary to apply the one-cent sales tax over a period of 15 to 17 years.  The meeting can be seen in its entirety, with the city board meeting following, on the City of Hope facebook page. 

In the official board meeting, J.R. Wilson showed the board a schedule for making decisions in the process of landing the questions of whether Hope citizens are for or against a one-cent sales tax to finance a new fire department headquarters, an aquatic/recreation center and numerous upgrades at Fair and Northside Parks, including dryer, more playable soccer fields, a splash pad, and redone basketball courts. He said the board realistic has until August 6th to decide on what will go into the language of the ballot measures but that deciding sooner gave Friday, Eldridge and Clark, the law firm the city is using to legally refine the language, to do its work. The timetable Wilson showed is as follows: 

June 4 – July 3 Decision to Bond Council and Bond Underwriter 

August 6, 2024 Board Adopts Sales Tax Ordinances 

August 27, 2024 Ordinances Filed with County Clerk 

November 5, 2024 Election Day 

November 6 – January 13 Election Certification, etc. 

January 14, 2025 Offering Documents to Investors 

January 21, 2025 Bond Pricing and Bond Ordinance 

January 29- February 28 30 Day Referendum Period 

March 4, 2025 Closing and Distribution of Proceeds 

No action was taken as board members seemed to need the time to consider what they had heard in the working meeting. Director Trevor Coffee said that as a result of the working meeting, he thought the project now has the potential to appeal to a larger spectrum of voters. Mayor Still said he believed incorporating pickle ball courts would be a good move since he had many requests for them from citizens. Wilson told Beranek to send him the numbers that had been discussed. 

The next item concerned the dedication of Highway 29 North to South to the memories of Staff Sgt. Carlo Montell Robinson (killed in action January 17, 2009 near Kabul) and Highway 67 East and West to Sgt. Thomas “Chad” Rosenbaum (killed in action on 18 September 2004 in Iraq). The board passed two resolutions to do so. Signage will be bought from the Arkansas Department of Transportation that will be placed at the entrances and exits into town. Wilson said ceremonies will be held to perform the dedications. Mothers of both men, Donna Rosenbaum and Jennifer Robinson were present to hear the resolutions read and see the unanimous votes in favor. 

Next, the board approved two appropriations. The first was for emergency repairs to piping that a combination of a past out-of-control yard fire and recent weather developments has destroyed. The issue has caused flooding between the 1400 and 1600 blocks of Wilson and Fulton Streets. The board approved $85,456 for the cost of new piping. The amount was not budgeted for and would likely come from Street Department or General Funds.  The vote to fund the repair was unanimous. Right now a temporary measure has been put in place involving movement of soil. 

The other appropriation is not quite as costly at $49,000, but Wilson argued that funding this work in the past had already reduced the incidence of train derailments on the railroad track the city owns at the Industrial Park.  Every two years, he said, there’s need for what is called tamping of the graveled ground beneath the rails.  According to the agenda information, a handout available at the meeting, “resurface and tamping involves a large machine that picks up the track, packs added ballast and realigns / levels all existing track to help ensure the track complies with existing regulation.” The only bid received from a firm that can perform the work was from Grace Railroad Contractors for $49,000, a number that was analyzed and found to be in keeping with usual rates. The board approved the expenditure, which was budgeted for. 

The board approved a revenue-raising item next. It accepted a bid from Stuarts Enterprises of Hot Springs to harvest and take the hay grown on 90 acres of land across Highway 278 from the Hope Municipal Airport, paying $4,750 a year over a period of four years. Four other bids were received. 

Next, because of the requirements of the Community Development Block Grant Hope was awarded in April to fund a wastewater project, the city needs to set up a separate account for the funds. The board voted to set this up through Farmers Bank & Trust, the holders of several other city accounts. 

In his report, Wilson announced the Juneteenth Weekend Celebration. The events include on Friday June 14th, Downtown Block Party at Pocket Park 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.; on Saturday June 15th, Parade and Festival at 9:15 a.m. for the Line Up; 10:30 a.m. for the parade from the Yerger Museum to Northside Park  and 12:30 p.m. for the Festival. On Sunday June 16th will be the Royalty Pageant and Fatherhood Recognition at the Douglas Washington Center in Northside Park. 

Wilson also announced that city board election packets were distributed to candidates whose term runs out this year and planned to run again. The deadline for filling those in and turning them in to Finance Director and City Clerk Cindy Clark July 31st. 

Collections for the recent wastewater rate increase have begun coming in starting May 1st.  Clark said these will be applied to the payments for the wastewater project but will also help toward the building of reserves that could be used for annual maintenance according to most urgent need at a rate of $75,000 worth a year, leaving enough to still build reserves for bond issues later. 

Possibly automating financial processing and other matters has been the goal of research Wilson and Clark have been doing. He said presentations to the board may be done soon should an attractive option be found. 

The board went into about a ten-minute executive session here to discuss a personnel matter but no action was taken. 

In Citizens’ Request, Hope Schools Soccer Coach Edmundo Dominguez pointed out that a new parking lot is blocking some water drainage and soccer field two is being damaged. He reported soccer field one is being drained pretty well due to recent work that has been done. Parks Superintendent Summer Chambers said some work had been done as of Tuesday. Dominguez also praised the board for ongoing work, including with the plans for park improvements. 

Vote SoAR and NAACP Chapter President Sylvia Brown asked about a marked off area on Spruce Street, whether it would be cleared for the use of that street for the Juneteenth parade. She requested trash bins for the Juneteenth events. Hope Streets Superintendent Kenneth Harvel said that the street should be made passable by that time.