Ash Flat City Council tables reinstatement of officers

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Ash Flat City Council met Nov. 20 during which the reinstatement of officers Colton Wilson and Tom Rigsby was discussed.

While giving his department report, Anthony Wiles said his department had responded to 108 calls for service since the October council meeting.

Wiles said from this point forward, investigative cases would now be included in his report. Wiles said eight were conducted during the month, two of which had been closed and affidavits had been filed. The monetary value of those was about $12,100,” Wiles said.

Wiles said WatchGuard had provided the department with a couple of cameras to test out. He explained Steve Powell and Jeremy Stevens had been the two officers to test out the new equipment.

“They’re easy to use and we haven’t had any problems or flaws with them. When the car systems are installed, the body cams will link into them. I’ve looked at several different grants on all this and with it being the end of the year, most of them have passed. I looked into the one which had been suggested, but our violent crime statistics aren’t high enough and so we don’t qualify. As far as other grants, it’d be February to March of next year before they open for application,” Wiles said.

Wiles said his final order of business to discuss with the council was Tom Rigsby and Colton Wilson being on administrative leave due to the pending lawsuit against the City of Ash Flat, as well as other area organizations.

“The special prosecutor has advised they don’t plan to file anymore charges. They were put on administrative leave when the state police were investigating but since that has been concluded, I’d like to look at bringing them back,” Wiles said.

Attorney Larry Kissee said he had spoken to the special prosecutor and that charges had been filed against Josh Trivitt who was an officer for Cherokee Village at the time of the incident. Kissee said he had confirmed no charges would be filed against the Ash Flat officers who were on administrative leave.

“About three weeks ago I sent an e-mail to Jack [McQuary] asking him to send a letter, he hasn’t done that, but he did tell me no charges would be filed against Mr. Rigsby or Mr. Wilson. I’ll try again to get a letter if that’s what the council needs,” Kissee said. “If Mr. McQuary does not have time, the chief prosecutor, Henry Boyce will send a letter. I understand the situation. I’ll contact them and see what they can do.”

Wiles asked if the letter came, could the officers be reinstated upon the receipt of the letter rather than waiting for the next council meeting.

A motion was made to reinstate the officers, however; no second was made. A request to enter into executive session was made. The council then met in executive session.

Alderman Danny Traw announced the council would like to see the letter and revisit the issue during the December meeting.

Fire Chief Stacey Horton told the council his department had made 32 calls for service since the last council meeting.

“Most of our equipment purchased for Engine 4 has arrived and we are still waiting for our lettering to be completed. We hope to have that completed before the parade,” Horton said. “At our next fire meeting, we will find out the date and time of our Christmas party.”

The city’s code enforcement officer Bill Meyers gave a recall of the inspections he had carried out during the previous month, including plans for a Walmart outdoor grocery store pickup location.

“In about two months, you’ll be able to order your groceries online and they will bring them out and load them. They will be building it close to the automotive end. It will be two parking spaces,” Meyers said.

During her library report, Susan Funnell told the council the entry door to the library which had been leaking was repaired, but if the repairs did not hold, there would likely be an awning added to the facility. Funnell also told the council her hours had been increased due to the volume of usage of the library.

“Over 1,400 people came through our haunted house,” Funnell said.

Funnell also requested the council’s blessing to add Judy Camden to the Ash Flat Library Board.

The council then moved on to the accidental and dismemberment insurance for elected officials and department heads.

The council moved to approve the insurance coverage.

They then moved on to preliminary budget discussion. City Clerk Charlotte Goodwin told the council there were two breakdown options of five percent and three percent for each department. Goodwin said there would need to be some cuts and adjustments.

Mayor Larry Fowler suggested the council members take the budgets home and review the options and return at a later date with suggestions.

The conversation then transitioned into the tax monies collected and given to Ozarka College.

The question was asked if some of the funds could be used for other things, however; Fowler said he had not had the opportunity to find out.

“I’d like for them to come up with the money to pay for our librarian. If they don’t do anything else: pay for 40 hours a week for our librarian. That’s not asking much when they had $262,000 so far this year,” Alderman Fred Goodwin said.

It was discussed to have the college take over the library. There was a positive response by the council, but stipulations were discussed such as the city would continue to control hiring and firing, the city’s librarian remained in charge, the facility remained public and more.

“My thing about the sales tax is the citizens passed that for Ozarka. The citizens passed that and it may have been written to where it could changed by a future council; I’m not too sure I’d agree with that,” Fowler said.

The council then discussed moving their council meetings to the second Tuesday of each month for 2019 rather than the third Tuesday.

No action was taken, but it was discussed it would be voted on during the December or January meeting.

The Ash Flat City Council currently meets the third Tuesday of each month at city hall at 7 p.m.

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