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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Salem City Police win grant for new patrol car

Friday, January 6, 2012

No, that's not a pump for a new Highway 62 convenience store. It is a new fuel station at the Salem Airport, and that is a runway in the background. An aviation grant paid for the system which will allow planes to land and fill up, using a credit card reader and the self-service pump. Photo by Richard Irby
The City of Salem wound up 2011 on a roll, reeling in one large unexpected grant and getting good news on another.

"Back in September, the Mayor asked me to apply for a federal grant that was available," Police Chief Al Roork told the Dec. 22 meeting of the Salem City Council. "You could get up to $50,000, so I kind of shot the moon and put in for a new police car."

Roork was recently notified that the grant had been approved to cover all of the cost of a new police pursuit vehicle.

"It's an all-wheel drive, and it costs $26,000 for the car," Roork said. "It is a fully equipped police pursuit vehicle. It looks like a Ford Taurus."

According to Roork, another grant for $1,000 was approved to buy three sets of "stop spikes," to put across a highway to stop a fleeing vehicle, and those have already been received.

Mayor Clayton, who learned about the grant from Sheriff Buck Foley, commented that the city is fortunate to already have a "good, late model fleet" of police cars, so the new vehicle is an unexpected bonus.

The bad news is, the Sheriff's Department, which also submitted a grant application, was not approved for a vehicle, even though its current fleet consists primarily of high mileage, older vehicles with a lot of repair and maintenance needs. Sheriff Foley told The News his office had received an $18,000 award through the grant offering. The money can be used to buy tires for department vehicles, and portable radios for deputies.

In Old Business, the Mayor said the city is back in the running for a grant application which was rejected earlier this year. In August of 2010, the city applied for a $486,000 stimulus grant to replace an old sewer line which runs along Town Creek to the sewage treatment plant.

After months of waiting, the city learned the HUD Community Development Block grant application had been rejected, because the city's low to moderate income factor was a little too high.

"I recently received a call informing me that we've been put back in it (the grant funding pool), and we are, right now, very close to the top of the list," Clayton told council members.

Engineers who assisted with the pre-application in 2010 recently returned to Salem to walk the route of the sewer line to re-familiarize themselves, so that a full application can be filed in January.

According to the Mayor, the engineers believe the fact the city was contacted and re-invited to apply is a "good sign."

The old sewer line has cracks and holes that allow drainage run-off to get into the line, sending extra water into the sewage treatment plant after a storm.

Receiving a $486,000 grant to pay 100 percent of the cost of replacing the old sewer line and stabilizing the creek bank would be much preferable to a later state or federal order requiring the city to bear the cost of replacing the leaky line.

"Hopefully, one of these days, we'll get some good news on that and get a project out of the way that, somewhere down the line, is going to have to be done one way or another," Clayton said.

Council members were told in New Business that an improvement project at the airport is near completion.

The airport commission, which obtained a grant to put in a new credit card operated automated fueling system, hopes to have it in service soon.

"It's going to generate some traffic once we get it on aviation maps that we've got fuel," Clayton said. "Some people (planes) coming through will stop and buy fuel. Right now, we show fuel availability but, when you get here, you had to call somebody to go out there and pump it. With this (new system), they can pull in, use their credit card and go on their merry way."

The outside pumping system with a credit card reader is now in place. Workers will soon return to run cable from the pump to the terminal building, where the fueling system computer will be located.

The airport project was under New Business because of a request for assistance from the Airport Commission.

The fueling system is on land which the commission recently purchased from a private landowner.

The commission is now in the process of buying a parcel of land at the front of the airport near a row of hangars, which the city does not own. It has obtained a $25,600 grant which will pay 80 percent of the cost of the property, and requested a $6,200 loan from the city to cover the commission's 20 percent match.

The Mayor expressed support for the loan request, saying the purchase would mean the city would finally own all of the land around the airport.

"That will get all of that property around hangars and the fueling system into the city's hands, where no body can come in and put in a junk yard or whatever near the airport," Clayton said.

The council accepted a suggestion that the $6,200 loan be added to an existing loan the airport commission is currently paying on. That loan for $20,000 has been paid down to about $11,000.

Council members unanimously approved the loan request to purchase additional land for the airport.

At its January meeting, the council will approve a new budget for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins Feb. 1 for Arkansas cities. The December financial report showed the city is wrapping up the year on budget, and sales tax collections remained steady, even slightly above projections, in 2011.

The next council meeting will be held on January 26 at 7 p.m. Meetings are held in the City Hall conference room and the public is invited to attend.

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