The Salem City Council met March 26 at 7 p.m. Salem Police Chief Albert Roork said the two new deputies are ready and willing to work.
In the Salem Police report Roork said there was a total of six automobile accidents, 71 complaints, 29 dog complaints, one vehicle theft, four thefts of property, five domestic disputes, 12 motorist assists and 27 vehicles unlocked. Roork said the new deputy, Johnny Byler, has been doing something new that will keep area businesses safe. Roork said he has been doing security checks at Salem businesses by checking to make sure their doors are locked.
"Arrests and tickets are really, really up," Roork said. He said there were four counts of driving on a suspended driver's license, two speeding, three no seat belt, two no child restraint, five no proof of insurance, one passing a stopped school bus, one leaving the scene of an accident, two failure to maintain control of a vehicle, one shoplifting, one theft of property, two DWIs, one expired vehicle tags, one no vehicle license, one possession of a controlled substance, one residential burglary, one battery in the third degree, one felony fugitive from Missouri, one felony from Texas and one body attachment for non-support.
Roork said the night of March 31 will be Deputy Butch Blair's last night as acting deputy. Blair will be retiring and Doug Nienvick will replace him. Blair will be a reserve officer for the police department if they should need him.
In other police business, residents who live on Fairview Road have been complaining about drivers speeding down the road, Roork said. He said he has put in a request for speed limit signs.
Heath Everett, the Salem fire chief, said last month the fire department had eight runs. One was a structure fire, six were grass fires and one was an EMS run.
"We've had quite a few fires this month," Everett said. "It's been a busy, busy month."
He said he has received several complaints about residents not being able to burn because of the burn ban within city limits.
Everett also reported that they are going to train V.J. Fountain, who is 19, to be a volunteer firefighter. "We need some youth. Our youngest person (volunteer firefighter) is 35," Everett said.
In the public works report, the city repaired one water leak and did 3,500 feet of waste water line, Bill Worsham said. He also said the public works department is helping clean ice storm debris. He said all the limbs are piled up at the fairgrounds to be picked up. Worsham said he's received three or four complaints over the last several weeks about an old trailer that's been blowing debris around on Oak and First Street.
Worsham asked the council if he could give some of his sick leave to another city employee.
Everett suggested that the city consider adopting a catastrophic leave program where employees donate their extra sick days in a fund for those who are not eligible for sick leave to use.
The council agreed to transfer the sick days to the employee in question. Clayton said in the future the council might consider forming a catastrophic leave program.
Mayor Gary Clayton gave an update of city cleanup from the ice storm. "Basically we have completed about 95 percent of the city streets," Clayton said. He said cleanup of the state highways will be saved for last. Clayton said the city planned to start cleaning Highways 9 and 62/412 within city limits March 30. The council set a deadline of April 13 for the city to go by residents houses and pick up ice storm debris on the roadside. This will be the last time the city will do their rounds on ice storm debris pickups.
"The Corps in their estimation has projected 5,279 cubic yards of brush with an estimated cost of $57,580. So far, it looks like we spent about $25,400 in labor and about $44,500 in equipment costs," Clayton said. "Bear in mind that this labor figure is accurate, but it's not. The reason being is that we do not get reimbursed for any city employees who are working on this cleanup unless they go into overtime. So, those people are being paid their regular salaries."
Everett said it is possible that the burn ban will be lifted April 13, as well.
The city has been hauling debris to the compost heap. Worsham said there is about 13,000 cubic yards of debris out there.
Clayton said some residents who live near the town creek have concerns about flooding from ice storm debris blocking the flow of water. "We have submitted an application to Natural Resources for funding to pay to clean that creek bed," Clayton said. He said the project is going to be a 75-25 project, which means the city will have to pay 25 percent. He said when the people the city contract with come to clean the creek they will pick up everything out of the creek bed but not on the banks. Clayton said the city will then pick up what is on the banks and haul it off.
The council approved that the city get permission from land owners in that area for the city to operate on their land while cleaning out the creek.
The council agreed under Ordinance 2009-196 to annex a plot of land which was owned by Eugene Ellison.
Clayton gave an update on the Charles Mullins Jr. vs. the City of Salem lawsuit. Clayton said the city's attorney, who is working the case in Little Rock, said the plaintiff is willing to settle the case for $150,000. Attorney Dwayne Plumlee was on hand during the meeting to give the council members advice on the matter. Plumlee suggested that the council reject the offer and see what happens. The council unanimously agreed.
In other business, the city received a bid for a police vehicle, a Jeep, for $751 from Bill Worsham. The council accepted the bid.
The next Salem City Council meeting will be April 16 at 7 p.m.