Marked Tree Council approves bids, hears from citizens

Thursday, September 28, 2017

During the Marked Tree City Council's September meeting Monday, the council amended an ordinance, reviewed several resolutions, and heard from two citizens.

The council approved amending an ordinance passed last month waiving competitive bidding to purchase a tractor from Greenway Equipment. The original ordinance gave a bid price of $68,500 but did not include sales tax. The amended ordinance includes sales tax of $6,678.75 for a total estimate of $75,178.

Following approval, Alderman Mack Rhoads made a motion that the tractor be cleaned and kept in a shed all winter after mowing was over in the fall, which the council also approved.

Regarding cleanup of condemned property, the council reviewed bids on two properties, one to remove a house and out building at 115 Railroad Street and one to remove a shed on Wiley Street. The council accepted bids from J.C. Landscaping of $2,500 for the Railroad Street property and $700 for the Wiley Street property.They also approved a resolution condemning a property at 206 Tyler Street. The council also approved paying bills for mail outs out of Industrial Funds--totalling $61.49--to 214 11th Street, 124 Brigance, 401 Union, 202 W. Riverside, 206 Tyler, 310 Poplar, 702 Normandy, 203 11th Street, 205 11th Street, and 105 Wiggington.

A motion was also made and approved to get prices on a new knuckle boom truck instead of spending money on the old ones. A motion by Alderman Jerry Jones to invest in a track hoe with a mower on it to clean out ditches failed with a vote of three for and five against, though Alderman Jason Gilbert asked if they could see prices of leasing versus buying one.

Police Chief Michael Matlock addressed the council regarding a contract with Verizon to put a GPS system in the police vehicles. Chief Matlock said the system--which has a one-time charge of $626.99 and a charge of $132.64 a month after that--would help with both safety and maintaining the integrity of the police department. For safety, he said if an officer is in distress but cannot get to his radio, the system can pinpoint the address of the officer's vehicle. The system would also monitor vehicles to notify the department if officers are speeding or idling for a long time. Chief Matlock said the sheriff's department currently has the system in place.

When asked by the council about the need for the system, Matlock said the best feature was the safety of the officers when they are separated from their vehicles. He cited multiple footchases in the past few months and said that while officers have a panic button on their radios that tell when they are in distress, it does not pinpoint their location.

Ultimately, the resolution approving the Verizon contract for the system failed with three for and five against.

The council also heard from and Mike Johnson and Tom Rhoads.

Mike Johnson spoke to the council about several lots near his house which are not mowed regularly or kept clean. He also spoke about drainage issues and limbs not getting picked up. The biggest thing he mentioned was that someone had taken down the "vote no to higher taxes" signs. He brought pictures of the signs, including a picture of what he said was Mayor Mary Ann Arnold taking one down. Johnson said he had contacted the state district attorney but wanted to know why the signs were removed. Mayor Arnold said they had been on her property, Cypress Park, to which both Johnson and Alderman Mack Rhoads said the signs had been on the section of the property owned by the highway department. Johnson said he would talk to the state D.A. again.

Tom Rhoads read sections of a post Marked Tree native Trey Stafford of the Jonesboro Radio Group made to Facebook about a recent visit to Marked Tree. In the post, Stafford said he was surprised at the number of houses there were that used to be nice but were now dilapidated and called for someone to take the lead in tearing them down. Rhoads asked about a house condemned at 607 Home Street, which Code Enforcement Officer Jim Huff reported on earlier. Huff said there was a mortgage on it, but the property went to collections, and they couldn't tell him who the mortgage company was. Rhoads said that if the person who did the title search, whom she knows, could not find a mortgage, then there probably wasn't one. Rhoads also brought up a property at 206 Madison which had a lot of junk on it. Huff said he was working on that one. Rhoads also said a lot of people would be coming in from out of town for the Cotton Pickin' Jubilee but that they might not be coming back in the future if the city keeps stopping everyone over seatbelts.

Alderman Cleo Johnson Jr. asked the mayor why other cities were getting their streets fixed with state aid money but Marked Tree wasn't. The mayor said Marked Tree had been fortunate to get their state aid early for the first round but would have to wait until everyone has gotten theirs for the first round before they will be eligible again. City Clerk Pam Wright said the city has applied for the funds and is waiting for the second cycle.

In other business, the council approved a resolution adopting the Poinsett County Hazard Mitigation Plan and heard a proclamation from the mayor declaring Oct. 6 Go Pink For The Cure Day in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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