HPD Primary Focus of Hope Board Meeting

In their second October meeting Tuesday, the City of Hope Board of Directors, all official business was related to the Hope Police Department with the department seeking Board approval on $28,200 in grants as part of STEP program and approval to declare one of the vehicles out of its fleet as surplus so it can be sold. There Board was also updated on several city projects including the recent rail project, the new playground installation at Northside Park and progress on expansion of the HPD’s section of the Hempstead County Law Enforcement Center.

STEP Grant Award
The Hope Police Department was awarded $28,200 in state and federal money, primarily for the NHTSA/Arkansas Highway Safety Office STEP Grant program, which the department has participated in for the last 21 years. $3000 of the total grant money is designated for the purchase of child safety seats which the department makes available to those who need them.

The STEP Grants provide funds for local law enforcement to pay officers to perform extra patrols focused DWI/DUI, speeding and seatbelt enforcement. The grants provide overtime opportunities for officers and gives the department the chance to focus on the specific areas of enforcement.

According the HPD’s numbers, in the first 11 months of the 2018-2019 grants cycle, the city’s police netted 278 seatbelt citations, 38 child restraints, 84 speeding tickets, 54 distracted driving violations, 19 DWI’s, 4 felony arrests and 103 suspended/revoked drivers license in 1207 traffic stops during 546 STEP overtime patrols.

Grants require Board approval but, according to the HPD, Chief JR Wilson submitted acceptance of the grants pending final approval of the Board before it could be brought before them due to time restraints. The Board unanimously approved the grants retroactively.

HPD Surplus Vehicle
HPD sought to have unit 218, a 2012 Dodge Charger, declared a surplus vehicle. The vehicle has been removed from service and has been sitting at the City Shop. The Board agreed to declare the vehicle surplus which now allows it to be sold via govdeals.com along with units 220 and 222, which were declared surplus in May of this year.

City Manager Report
Assistant City Manager and HPD Police Chief JR Wilson filled in during the meeting for City Manager Catherine Cook. Wilson provided the Board with updates on various projects going on within the city.

Rail Project
Wilson reported that the rail project is complete, has received approval from Union Pacific and is in use at this time. The Union Pacific inspection resulted in approval but did have some minor corrections according to Wilson. Wilson said all paperwork has been submitted for reimbursement to EDA and Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Wilson said the city has paid out the last of money owed to vendors.

Northside Park Playground
Wilson reported that the new playground installation at Northside Park is almost complete. Wilson said that the only thing remaining for the playground equipment to be complete and open for use is the installation of the fall surface and a walkway. Other work remains to complete everything the city plans to do, including the removal of old equipment and some paving work but area children should be making use of the equipment soon. The equipment was paid for with a grant for more than $100,000 to the Parks Department. Another playground was also purchased and will be installed in Hope Fair Park.

Downtown Network Legacy Dinner
Wilson reported that he spoke with Downtown Network President Bob Erwin who reported that the group’s Legacy Dinner on October 5 was a great success and that the HUB at Pavilion Park in downtown made a great venue for their dinner and auction. Wilson said that the group raised around $15,000 during the event. The group also unveiled the recent statue installation during the dinner.

HPD Building Project
Wilson said that concrete work has been underway on the building expansion for the HPD’s section of the Hempstead County Law Enforcement Center. Wilson said progress has been good, though rain in the last several days has delayed concrete work. Wilson said the concrete should be finished up by next week if weather allows.

Code Enforcement
Wilson reported that the two businesses which were brought to the Board’s attention in the previous meeting by John Odom, who expressed concern that the businesses were not in compliance with city code, have been checked out by Code Enforcement and that there were no violations found. The business on South Main which sells small buildings was already working its way through the necessary steps for zoning approval and the business on North Hazel is only keeping the wrecked semi on its property until the insurance company has finished its part  and then the vehicle will be removed.

Tree Removal – UAHT
Randy Odom notified the city that he worked out an agreement with UAHT to cut down some trees on the campus property where it borders his property at the edge of the city limits where he will be building a commercial building. Odom received approval earlier this month to have the property, which is in the county, connected to city water and sewer with the caveat that Odom will have the property incorporated into the city of Hope. Odom reportedly wanted to remove the trees because it would improve the appearance of the property in the area and he will be cutting the trees at no cost to the city or the college. Wilson said that the city agreed to remove the trees once they are cut and that doing so is in compliance with city rules.

Hamburger Tax Permits
Wilson reminds business owners who are required to collect the “Hamburger” tax that they have until December 1 to get their applications in. Wilson said that any business that fails to do so is subject to a $500 per day fine for failure to comply. Businesses will be given a sticker and a certificate they can display to show they are in compliance. The Board recently approved an ordinance that give the Tourism and Advertising Commission teeth to enforce collection of the “Hamburger Tax”. The permit is part of the new ordinance and is required. There is no cost for the permit. The permit was established solely to help in enforcement.

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