Green Forest to kick off coat, shoe drive

Friday, September 12, 2014

The city of Green Forest will hold its annual coat and shoe drive beginning next week.

The Green Forest City Council discussed the project at its meeting Monday night.

The coat and shoe drive has several sponsors from Green Forest and the surrounding area. Several local banks are among the businesses that have signed on to help sponsor the event, which will be primarily co-sponsored by the city of Green Forest and the Green Forest 4-H Club.

Alderman Tim Hatman explained that the coats will be collected and disbursed throughout the city, beginning in the Green Forest School District.

Mayor Charles Reece, who presided over Monday's meeting, said the coat and shoe drive is not meant to identify students living below the poverty line.

"We really don't try to gauge their income levels," he said. "The teachers in school can pretty well tell who needs coats and shoes and whatnot. The drive provides these kids that don't have much with an opportunity to get some winter wear and to be able to stay a little bit warmer than they otherwise might be able to."

The council also changed the date of its fall cleanup to Nov. 8. Occurring twice a year -- once in the spring and once in the fall -- the cleanup is a way for citizens to rid their homes of junk that piles up over the year. Citizens will gather items from their homes and place them on the curb, allowing the city to come through and collect them. As well as household junk, citizens are encouraged to dispose of electronics and bundled dead wood.

"It works pretty well," Reece said, explaining that Carroll County Solid Waste takes the disposed items after the city picks them up.

The council agreed to change the date and time of its monthly meeting to 8:30 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month on a trial basis. A proposed ordinance awaiting a third reading would make the switch official in January."

We just wanted to start and see how it would go," Reece said, saying he will provide coffee and breakfast for those attending the morning meetings.

Reece said he has lived several places and has seen many council meetings held during daytime hours.

"You know, I've had mixed feelings from different people on the change, but some people are opposed to change just for the sake of it," he said.

He added that if the new meeting time proves to be a problem, the council can always change the meeting time back to the evening.

Reece also discussed the need for affordable housing in Green Forest, discussing a plan to build more homes in the city.

"People buy houses in Harrison and Berryville but not here," he said.

Reece said he is gathering an inventory of all the vacant lots in town, hoping to contact the owners to discuss building homes on their property. After that, he wants to speak to builders from "all over Carroll County," eventually working with lenders in town to help Green Forest citizens for whom credit may be an obstacle to buying a home.

"It's going to take a whole group of people working together. This may very well not even fly but for sure it wouldn't fly if we don't talk about it," he said. "I've been approached by two or three citizens in town about needing good housing here in Green Forest. You've got to take the first step to get people to think about it. Who knows? We might step on a gold mine instead of a land mine."

The council heard from fire and police officials at the meeting as well; both updated council members on the new items they are ordering for their respective departments. The fire department expects its six new turnouts to come in as soon as this week. Police Chief John Bailey said that he has ordered another new police car to arrive in November. Bailey also noted a recent increase in crime.

"We have had an unusually quiet summer, but crime has picked up in the past week," Bailey said.

He noted the recent arrest of Ian Moran, who is accused of stealing a city truck, crashing it and fleeing the scene.

The council's next meeting will take place at 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 14.

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