The Salem City Council met Thursday, Feb. 25 and one hot item on the agenda was the issue of proper house numbering within the city limits. "People need to get their house numbers up," said Mayor Gary Clayton. "We have problems now with being able to find people, whether it's fire or ambulance or police. So many people have not yet put up their house numbers."
It was discussed that the city create an ordinance requiring house numbers and including a minimum size requirement to make them easier to see from the road. "If we pass an ordinance, or revamp an existing one, we can set up something here to sell numbers at cost. We need to push this and encourage people to get their numbers up, because it might be to their advantage one day if they need emergency services."
In the financial report for the city, Mayor Clayton pointed out that the city was starting off on firm footing. "If you'll notice the balance in the general fund, that's the largest balance we've started the year with in many, many years," said Clayton. "I also want to mention the sales tax. The collections shown on the financial report for January 2010, compared with January of 2009, show that the police department for example, their share of the sales tax was only down $11.90 from this time last year. Fire Department was down about $8.20. So, that's cutting awfully close to maintaining the status quo."
It was mentioned that the bad weather in January may have in part caused the slight drop in sales tax revenue. "Overall in all categories, we're probably down only around $75 below last year, so that's not bad," said Clayton. Council members also brought up the apparent good business that the new Dollar Store is doing. "The Dollar Store cannot keep their shelves stocked," said Clayton. "Reportedly, they're doing twice the business they had been doing at the other location."
In the Police Report, Police Chief Al Roork reported that four meth busts had taken place in Fulton County in the past weekend, including one at the Meadows Apartments in Salem which netted three arrests. The other three took place in Mammoth Springs and Nine Mile Ridge. The department had a total of 58 complaints, including four auto accidents, seven domestic disputes, two theft of property, 25 vehicles unlocked and one search warrant served in connection with a child porn investigation within city limits.
Fire Chief Heath Everett then presented his year end report for the department, detailing 120 calls responded to in 2009, up from 86 the year before, with 60 calls in town and 60 calls out of town. "Of course the weather, including the ice storm and floods, contributed to that," said Everett. The department conducted 12 fire inspections and presented several programs on fire safety. The biggest loss for the year was the structural fire at the Bodyworks gym. "No one was injured this year, which is good. It's a dangerous job, but they use common sense and good safety," said Everett.
Everett brought up the recurring issue of false alarms coming from the new nursing home, but stated that the problem had been addressed with the business owners, and the number of incidents had dropped dramatically. "January of this year we've had six calls: one structure fire, a flue fire, two EMS calls, a false alarm and a grass fire," said Everett. "This month is going to be big. We had seven calls last Saturday for grass fires. Dead grass and high wind and people not thinking straight have really kept us running. We've had truck trouble too. We just got the four door back and fixed the flatbed ourselves. The bulk of what we did recently was done in whatever vehicle we could get to go. They fought one fire out of their pick-ups and backpacks."
The Public Works report was presented next by Bill Worsham. The water department handled two new connections, worked on the meter at the ball park and changed an angle valve. The wastewater department cleaned 2700 feet of line and is getting ready to get the new treatment plant online. The street department pushed snow off the streets a few times and have been using their new brush chipper to pick up and dispose of brush that continues to fall from damaged trees during the windier days. The city's annual Spring Clean Up date has been set for March 22, so mark your calendars.
Mayor Clayton then brought up the latest news on the storm clean up. "We still don't have our state reimbursements from the storm clean up," said Clayton. "We've closed out everything with the feds, but are still waiting on the state's portion of it. It's all we lack. We do have that budgeted as income in this year's budget."
The City's Dog Ordinance was next up for its third and final reading before becoming law. The Ordinance reads as: "An ordinance defining dangerous dogs; prohibiting dangerous dogs and requiring and defining confinement for such dogs; requiring such dogs be on a leash; requiring such dogs to be spayed and neutered; prohibiting tethering; requiring insurance; requiring registration of such dogs and providing penalties for violation of this ordinance." With this third and final reading, the ordinance will now be published in the paper and will go into effect 30 days after the publication date. "Al and I are going to work out the procedures for this, as a filing system and forms that we're going to need have to be developed," said Clayton. "We'll get all that set up in this 30 day period before it goes into effect. We'll be ready to roll then."
The city's pool manager position is currently vacant, with the former manager having accepted a job in Baxter County as a 9-1-1 operator. The council moved to advertise the position and plan on interviewing prospective candidates at next month's meeting.
"The airport commission has submitted a grant application to the Arkansas aeronautics department for around 4,000 to put a new beacon up out there," said Mayor Clayton. "The one we've got is the one we've had and it is plum wore out. This new one will have a halite lighting system and be cheaper to operate. They should be hearing something on that pretty shortly."
The Mayor also reminded all of the council members and recorder/treasurer that the filing period for this year's election opens on Monday, March 1, and that everyone is up for re-election this year. The council also voted to move the date of the next city council meeting back one week to Thursday, March 18 at 7 p.m. With that, the council adjourned.