Covid-19 Safety Concerns and Halloween Discussed Amongst Hope City Board

Erika Kemp

The Hope city board met this week met via zoom on Wednesday, October 7th.

A request has been placed by a long – term Hope resident to put in a Little Free Library on the area of 2nd and Elm. This will be paid for by the resident who placed the request in memory of the resident’s late mother. The Little Free Library is an organization that encourages communities to donate their books. This will push literacy interests in the area, and will open great access to people who may not have the money to purchase books on their own. The city board agreed that this is an excellent idea, and will work with her on finding the perfect spot to place it.

The city has accepted a grant for a project that will be dedicated to reducing traffic accidents and injuries. It will produce overtime for the police force, and additionally, will even fund child safety seats. The total cost of this project is $42,500, consisting of $25,500 from the federal board, $3,000 from the state, and $14,000 from local sources.

The board has extended the lease for the Arkansas State Police to use the airport to conduct CDL testing for another year. By accepting this request, they will be benefiting not only the city, but the entire rural area.

The Planning and Zoning Commission has sought and gained approval from the city board to amend and allow citizens to live in the central business district of Hope. The amendment will allow residents to live in 2nd or higher levels of a building. To avoid residents from parking in commercial spaces, the city will provide parking in the public parking lots for a fee.

A motion for the fire department has been approved to replace an old compressor that is said to be on its last leg. The compressor is believed to be over 30 years old. The total quote for the compressor is $32,116. These costs will be put towards the 2021 budget.

An update to the city’s purchasing policy has been requested. No decision has been made at this time, for the board needs time to read over and reflect on what has been presented.

The city currently operates under 5 different ordinances, and this will incorporate state and city ordinances under one single ordinance.

The following are in the proposed ordinance:

Sections 1 and 2 are basically duplicates from the original ordinances put into place in 1992.

Sections 3, 4, and 5 are to cover current purchase practices and increases in spending. These sections meet the guidelines of state law. Limits have been increased to reflect with current price changes and inflation.

Section 6 also abides by state law with rules on competitive bidding.

A section covering bonds has also been added. Currently, bonds on competitive bids will be required and a law will be in place to present action when someone fails to come forward with that bond.

Section 9 sets forward guidelines on when competitive bids can be waived. Although these guidelines have been in practice already following state law, the city will now have their own written section for people to follow.

Section 10 is also straight out of current ordinance.

Section 11, titled “City Manager Authority Under Critical Emergency and Other Impracticalities,” is new and is a practice that has never been put under city law. This section will cover when competitive bidding is both required, and not required. A waiver will be granted under certain exceptions such as immediate public safety emergencies.

Section 12 states that, with board approval, the city manager is the only person who can make purchases for the city.

Section 13, a newly added section, presents solutions for if the city comes into conflict with some of their grant requirements. These are guidelines set by state standards.

If approved, this policy will come into effect on January 1st, 2021.

A request to host a softball tournament at the park during the months of October, November, and December was approved. Prior to this request, the host sought and gained approval from the Arkansas Department of Health with guidelines requiring more frequent cleaning. It was stated that the host, having two designated personnel, will be responsible for the maintenance during this event. The health department would be responsible for enforcing these guidelines, not the city. With covid-19 cases on the rise, one particular city board member was concerned that this would put the public’s safety at risk, particularly mentioning concern for children. Another board member stated that, while he agrees that public safety is a concern, he does not believe that school activities should be able to proceed, while the city prohibits other’s extracurricular plans. He also stated, that they should not be able to particularly deny certain events, when they have previously approved others under similar circumstances. He went on to say that the Department of Health has already approved of this, despite their particularly strict guidelines, and that most of the general public does comply with health and safety guidelines. The board member who originally brought forward concerns, made it a point that the school has many highly trained staff to host these types of events, making it more efficient for monitoring public safety to take place. More members of the board gave their input, one stating that [the board] knows covid-19 is real, and that numbers are going up along with death rates.

An airport photographer has requested to use the runaway as a photo op. The photographer did not specify if the photo will present a positive or negative response, which concerned the board, resulting in them bringing forth a motion for the city manager to get more details and approve or deny the request.

A request for Halloween, which is on a Saturday night, to be done via people remaining in their vehicle, following social distancing guidelines was approved.

Scott Ross was announced as the new Wastewater superintendent.

The board will meet again on October 20th, 2020.

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