The Viola City Council met Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss how the city will deal with debris removal from the Jan. 26 ice storm.
"Basically, for our project here it's strictly debris removal," Viola Mayor Jackie Estes said. "They're (FEMA) not paying for individual assistance anywhere in the county."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will reimburse the city for its cost of cleaning up debris from the ice storm, according to county Office of Emergency Management Coordinator and City Water Manager Darrel Zimmer. FEMA, however, sets all the prices for hired labor and using equipment. "Everybody gets paid the same for the same size of equipment, same size of truck and everything like that," Zimmer said.
He said the city will likely do two rounds of picking up debris on the roadsides. "Most of the yards have been cleaned up. We'll have to do a second one. We can set a deadline on that," Zimmer said.
"We've already hauled 2,290 cubic yards (of debris) out of the city of Viola alone," Zimmer said.
"I've noticed a lot of people don't even have their brush piled yet," councilwoman Gracie Brown said.
Zimmer said the city will do another pass through for debris pickup, but a deadline needed to be set for people to get their debris out by the road. Zimmer said the debris pickup is just for Viola residents who have debris in their residential yards. "People need to understand this debris is out of your yard only," Zimmer said. "It's not to clear the 40 acres you live on. That doesn't work. It's strictly out of your yard around your home. We've actually had people bulldoze their entire place and put it in the right-of-way. That doesn't work."
"If you shove it in the right-of-way you're going to have to be shoving it out or paying the state to do it for you," Zimmer said.
The council set a deadline of April 1 for residents to pile up their debris in the right-of-way for the city to come and pick it up.
"What about the volunteer hours at the center out there?" Mayor Estes asked.
"That'll be counted," Zimmer said. "The volunteer hours at the (emergency shelter) will be counted by the county because (FEMA) will reimburse the expenses there, but the fire department people that were there, we (the city) get to count their labor."
Rural water will come to the Viola City Park, according to Mayor Estes. "We will have rural water at the park," Mayor Estes said. However, there is no time frame as to when it will all be hooked up, according to Zimmer.
Mayor Estes said there was another matter concerning the park. An employee of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative (NAEC) told Mayor Estes that there are two poles at the park that need to be replaced. "They (the poles) are about $700 to $800 a piece, I think, but if one of them falls on a vehicle or somebody, it would be bad news," Mayor Estes said. He told the council that he has already given the go ahead on replacing the poles.
According to the mayor, the road leading down to the park is clean of debris, but the park itself is still a mess. "I got a couple of the school kids to clean up the stuff," Zimmer said. He said the students from the Viola School will pick up limbs around the playground. He said FEMA will reimburse the cost of having the students clean the playground area.
Zimmer said the park has some hanging branches that need to be cut down. "We're going to have to get a bucket truck in there to do that," Zimmer said.
The mayor presented the financial report. "The general fund's doing pretty good right now," Mayor Estes said. According to the financial statement, the total general fund was $61,250.88 at the beginning of the year. The total expenditures in the general fund for January were $4,923.50. At the end of January, the balance on the general fund was $56,327.38.
The Viola Fire Department had an ending balance in January of $30,793.47, and the street fund's ending balance was $36,558.80.
The next Viola City Council meeting will be held at city hall. The date of the next meeting has yet to be announced.