Green Forest Council expands search for water superintendent
GREEN FOREST ---- A replacement for departing city water superintendent Steve Patton will be delayed while city leaders expand their search.
Mayor Leonard Tidyman announced last week that Patton was leaving after some 20 years with the city to accept a position with the YMCA in Hollister, Mo.
Tidyman said at the time that he would consider promotion from within the department to fill the slot. However, on Monday night, after conferring with council in executive session, he said the scope of the search would be broadened to include advertising in local newspapers and in trade journals. He also noted that the city would be advertising for a public works director, rather than water superintendent, saying the council wanted someone with business and municipal management skills, besides water expertise.
In other business, the council decided to put up a portion of the money needed to keep the state revenue office open that provides driver's licenses and other services on the town square.
Green Forest is one of a dozen Arkansas towns offered the opportunity to retain the service after state officials scheduled closings because of cost concerns. The state will continue to pay salaries if the town covers utilities.
As such, the city is asked to pay phone and computer line costs of $6,125 a year. Council members voted to pay half the cost and ask businesses to contribute the remainder. The council agreed to re-visit the matter at its mid-year budget review session and close the office, if necessary, if others don't contribute.
"It is really convenient for citizens," said Alderman Paul McCormick. "It could be the city's Christmas present to the citizens. I wish we could do the whole thing."
Alderman Joellyn Garrett agreed that the revenue office was beneficial, saying several business owners noted their support for its continued operation.
The revenue office, located on the south side of the square in a storefront provided by the First National Bank of Green Forest, was set to close on Dec. 16 if the city didn't agree to state terms.
Also Monday evening, the council voted to accept a bid of $615,611 from Jimmy Jones Construction for the East Ridge sewer project. Jones was the low bidder and recommended by project engineers, Tidyman said.
He also noted that the city had $548,000 set aside to cover a portion of the cost, and suggested a transfer of funds from the water department account to pay the remainder. The council agreed.
When discussing fire department business, Tidyman said Tim Kendrick would be serving as construction superintendent on the St. John's ambulance quarters project within the fire station.
A new addition that was constructed recently requires inside finishing work to create two bedrooms, a kitchen, day use area, two baths and office for use by ambulance crews.
St. John's is willing to pay $500 a month in rent for five years, which totals $30,000. Tidyman said the project is expected to cost the city $32,000, an estimate that includes materials, plumbing and electrical by licensed contractors, and $20 an hour for Kendrick's 200 hours of carpentry work. Tidyman said city building inspector Carl Goins would serve as "straw boss" on the project.
"We can either take city money or get a bank loan to pay for it," Tidyman said.
McCormick responded by saying he preferred a bank loan, saving city reserves for emergencies. The council concurred.
Fire Chief Chris Trask received the council's nod of approval to host a silent auction to sell used air packs and turnouts. His department recently purchased new equipment after receiving a $69,000 FEMA grant.
Trask said he would mail letters to area departments advising them of the auction, which will be scheduled for sometime in January or February.
Step raises for two city employees were approved, including those for water department clerk Pat Webb and police officer Tommy Hayden. Both received favorable reviews from their department heads.
A special meeting to approve a city budget for the year ahead will be scheduled soon, confirmed Tidyman. The city has until Feb. 1 to have a budget in place.