Marked Tree Council appoints new alderman

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The last item of business during Monday night's Marked Tree City Council meeting involved appointing a new alderman to take the place of Mary Smith, who announced her resignation at the end of the meeting. Smith has served in the position since 2011, when she offered to fill her husband Dr. Vestal Smith's position after he passed away.

Smith announced her resignation from the city council effective Aug. 10 and said she had enjoyed working with the city. Mayor Mary Ann Arnold initially wanted to appoint Zach Hatley to take Smith's place. Alderman Danny Johnson informed her that the mayor does not have the power to appoint an alderman to finish a term, but the council does. According to the Arkansas Municipal League website, the council does have the authority to fill a vacancy on the council. Mack Rhoades had also offered to fill the vacancy. Both Rhoades and Hatley have run for city council before. The council entered executive session to discuss the appointment. When they came out, they voted 5-3 in favor of Rhoades filling Smith's position for the remainder of the term.

The council also approved a resolution to apply for a matching grant for a new jaws of life (Holmatro cutter and accessories). Mayor Arnold said the city's current jaws of life had been used in the grain bin rescue, and the motor went out. "It's one of the most important tools the city has," Arnold said. Between the months of January and June of this year, it had been used in 14 wrecks. The grant was in the amount of $12,702 through the Arkansas Rural Community Grant program.

Mayor Arnold said a new jaws of life costs $32,000, but the city had the opportunity to purchase one which had been used in demonstrations for $25,404 from G&W Diesel Services. The council approved an ordinance waiving competitive bidding to purchase the cutter and accessories.

The council also approved a resolution authorizing and approving execution of a property purchase and sale agreement with Jarmel and Jeremy Bell for Carver Gym. The resolution and contract state the city will sell the 1.38 acre parcel of land Carver Gym sits on to the Bells for $10. In June, the council had agreed to give the gym to the Bell brothers after hearing presentations from individuals interested in the gym, which is in need of major renovation. The Bells said then that they hoped to restore the gym through grants and donations and wanted to offer a variety of programs to the community related to both academics and fitness.

The council heard an update from Connie Huff on the food pantry. Huff said the pantry served 168 people last week and has been getting a lot of support. She said rumors that the pantry no longer needed monetary donations because of anonymous donations from large companies were untrue. She said there were two big donations last week, and supplies that could not be given out through the food pantry were given to various places in town, including but not limited to, God's New Life Mission, the school drives, Marked Tree and Tyronza Senior Centers, and Marked Tree Police.

In other business, the council:

*Heard from Larry Rollins, who asked that they think about increasing pay for Marked Tree Police.

*Approved the water audit.

*Discussed an ordinance prohibiting drugs and alcohol on city property. The ordinance was tabled.

*Hired Jason Holly as a patrolman.

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