A working meeting was held May 6 at Cherokee Village. Planning and Zoning and possible annexation of white areas in Cherokee Village, the possibility of advertising in the Spring River Survival Guide, the animal shelter and the resignation of Police Chief Jason French and announcement of the new chief were the topics discussed.
Jerry Adams with Cherokee Village Planning and Zoning and a representative from the Arkansas Municipal league were present to discuss with the council the sphere of influence and let the city know the three types of annexation possibilities.
The areas in question are white areas that are outside of the city limits of Cherokee Village and surrounded by the Village and the Beach Club. Adams feels that these areas need to be addressed to improve the image of the city. The representative said that an area can be annexed by petition, election or city councils can adopt an area with a hearing and an ordinance.
Adams said the areas being discussed is completely surrounded by Cherokee Village and would only require an ordinance for annexation. Alderman Peter Martin was concerned with the city taking on more responsibility and felt the city should focus more on the city itself than outlying areas. The discussion will be brought up at the regular city council meeting.
Jody Shackleford and Kendra Fisher with the Spring River Survival Guide gave a presentation to the council regarding the magazine. Shackleford asked for the city to join other city's in advertising in their publication and told the council that the upcoming edition in which they partnered with the Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce will be an asset to those who move to the area because of the directory.
In other business the Animal Shelter proposals were discussed.
Mayor Hefley told the council that he had heard too much opposition in regard to the proposed water bill increase to help fund the shelter.
Animal service volunteer Sandy Summerdyke read a statement to the council in support of not only Animal Control Officer Shorlyn Morris and the outstanding job she has done with the shelter but also praising the shelter as a whole. She also reiterated the original request from the shelter to city council. Summerdyke said that all they asked for was two part-time kennel workers and the guarantee that Helga Lange would be retained as an administrative assistant after her grant runs out at the end of May. Summerdyke said in regard to the decision the city has to make regarding the shelter, "I urge you to think long and hard about what you are about to do." She told the audience and council members that the, "Insistence of a facility manager is a waste of tax payers money."
Cherokee Village Mayor Lloyd Hefley replied in regard to Summerdyke's presentation and to the article "For the Love of Animals" that ran in last weeks Villager Journal.
Hefley said in regard to Helga Lange and Shorlyn Morris's participation in an interview for the Villager Journal... "I speak for the citizens of Cherokee Village and the way this thing is run, I take suggestions, we work together with the city council. We've been going back and forth with this for a long period of time. We have put together these proposals and what you are doing out there on your own is not beneficial. It's not good for policy and its not good for you to tell us what you think and our employee's don't have any business doing this." He then asked French to present the article in question.
French outlined the areas of the article in which the mayor and department heads felt there were issues. One in particular was an indirect quote which said "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The other was a reference reiterated by Morris about a comment made by Alderman Peter Martin at a previous meeting stating that the city had used lack of planning in the development phase of the shelter and went further to describe the perceived lack of planning in such things as not having a septic system in which to dispose of animal litter and not having an American's with Disabilities accessible ramp when the shelter opened. The mayor did not feel that Morris should have made statements to the press regarding the facility as she was an employee of the city.
French said that the city council and administration had been working tirelessly trying to satisfy both sides with this issue. He also went on to praise volunteers and their efforts.
Alderman Martin admitted that he too shared the sentiment that the city lacked planning in the start-up phase of the shelter and still feels like the city is "piecing things together." He was aggravated by the fact that he has asked on numerous occasions, including at the beginning of the meeting, for a document containing the animal control officer Shorlyn Morris' job description to establish what her original duties as animal control officer were supposed to be.
Hefley defended the lack of planning statements by saying "You've got to look at the result, it is a well run facility."
Lange read the council a prepared statement from Shorlynn asking the council to leave the control of the facility in her hands while she would work for proactive animal control four to five hours a day helping to alleviate the gas cost of the proposed eight hour patrol.
In closing, Lange advised the council that she would be willing to complete the office work to further assist with any financial burden and coupled with the many volunteers would continue to make this the great shelter that it has become. Lange said, "True passion, motivation and skills have gotten us this far."
The proposals will be considered by members of the council and discussed at the next regular city council meeting.