Rehab of historic Ouachita Bridge apparently nixed

Frustration expressed at Arkadelphia board meeting

By Stephen Yates for SWARK Today

Tuesday night’s meeting was ripe with discussion as the Arkadelphia Board of Directors decided how they should move forward, particularly with the city’s bridge.

The board scheduled to have a presentation from Friends Of the Historic Ouachita River Bridge of Arkadelphia to give a report on the previous study done on the historic bridge on Highway 51. This study was essentially to find out whether the bridge is in shape enough to be repaired and made into a tourist and community useful attraction.

The FOHORBA offered to provide the city with a grant to aid in the repair and reconstruction of the bridge. After hearing several representatives of organization come and speak for the upgrade of the bridge, several members of the community also voiced their opinions on why city funds should not be used towards the bridges benefit. Despite efforts from Mayor Calhoun and Director Chaney to have the discussion pushed back and have more clarification at the next scheduled meeting, the rest of the board sided with the communities’ representatives. Common line of reasoning was that more emphasis should be put on the repair of city streets and currently used attractions. Mayor Calhoun admitted his disappointment for the bridge not getting further consideration.

An additional topic of discussion was on the error of City Manager Gary Brinkley and city staff on the hiring of an current employee of the city to a bidded position. According to Brinkley, when the individual was hired to do certain maintenance tasks for the city, he was unaware that the person was a volunteer firefighter.

Director Nelson exclaimed how upset she was for the City Manager’s slip up stating that she is a stickler on this specific rule, that “we have got to be fair to people in Arkadelphia, period” as well as recounting other times she has smelt “an odor” that “keeps coming up”. Her final opinion was obvious by asking to be excused from the rest of the meeting out of frustration.

In other Arkadelphia City Board news, routine ordinances were read and placed on their final readings, including the rezoning of a portion of property on Pine St. and the mobile food vendor ordinances. Along with these, the board also voted on adopting the updated state and federal Electrical Codes.

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