Green Forests wards are reorganized after Census

Friday, May 13, 2011 ~ Updated 4:57 PM

Green Forest aldermen reorganized the city's wards on Monday in a way they believed was both fair and simple for residents to understand.

The city's two wards had been separated by U.S. Hwy. 62. Ward 1 encompassed the northern part of the town, while Ward 2 encompassed the southern part.

But recent population figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that 373 more people in the city lived south of the highway than north of it.

At Monday's monthly city council meeting, the aldermen unanimously agreed to more evenly distribute these two wards by moving all the residents who live west of Butler Street and south of U.S. Hwy. 62 into the northern ward. Butler Street is located just east of the post office.

By redrawing the line, Ward 2 will now only have 69 more people in it than Ward 1.

"This doesn't make it totally even, but it comes close while also keeping it simple for residents to understand," said Green Forest Mayor Charlie Reece.

None of the four aldermen at the meeting raised many objections to the redistricting measure, which was proposed by the mayor. Alderman Willa Kerby said she spent some time looking at other proposals but agreed that the mayor's idea made the most sense.

In other news at the meeting, aldermen unanimously approved a measure that laid out specific details on how the town's new code enforcement officer, Joe Pierce, was to hand out citations.

Under this measure, a resident who was deemed to not be in compliance would receive three visits from Pierce to fix the problem before being given an official summons.

"As long as people are making progress, I am going to work with them," said Pierce.

Under the town's new ordinance, all property owners in the city are required, among other things, to cut weeds and grass, remove garbage, rubbish and other unsanitary and unsightly articles from their property.

"I knew this would be a learning curve," Reece said. "It's never easy when you tell someone that their property doesn't look good. But we have to try and do it in a positive manner."

The mayor and council also Monday said they would consider an idea to donate the city-owned rodeo grounds to the Cowboy Church.

Billy Williams, the pastor of the Cowboy Church, told the council that if the city donated the rodeo grounds to his church, his congregation would be able to fix it up in a way the city currently can't afford.

"The city wouldn't have anything to lose because we could make it a much better facility and the same people would still have access to it," Williams said.

The mayor and other members of the city's administration told Williams that they were not totally against the idea but would have to look into the details to see if it was possible.

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