Voluntary fee approved by Walnut Ridge City Council

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – A great deal of business was decided at the September meeting of the Walnut Ridge City Council, including the implementation of a voluntary fire fee of $5 on residents’ water bills.

Thorton Sifford Lawsuit

The council heard from City Attorney Nancy Hall on what she described as a meritless lawsuit regarding the condemnation of a building on U.S. 67 North in Walnut Ridge. Alderman Jeff Taylor voiced his disapproval to the city for what he has called “picking on” J.R. Rogers. While Rogers has a documented interest in the property in question, his sisters, Wanda Thorton and Louise Sifford, own the property and are suing the city, claiming it was wrongfully condemned. The lawsuit not only claims only one of the sisters was served but it challenges the legality of the condemnation ordinance. The decision was made for the lawsuit to be defended by the Municipal League at the cost of $3,000 to the city.

Fire Department Funding

dscn3090A new voluntary fire protection fee was approved by the council, giving all of those getting a water bill from Walnut Ridge Water the option to pay $5 to support their fire department. Snapp was optimistic enough would choose to do this to offset the deficit the department has been operating in, since the fire protection fee, determined to not be appropriately instituted by the city attorney, was ended. This happened after Mark Rees from Rees Law Firm in Jonesboro sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the city, regarding the fee.

School/Community Center Agreement

After two residents, Marion McDaniel and son Bobby McDaniel, devoted a great deal of personal time to looking into a water and sewer agreement between the Lawrence County School District and the City of Walnut Ridge, it brought to city officials attention the need to modify or change an agreement between the two parties on who would manage and maintain the community center. A committee was formed to investigate the matter.

Tornado Siren in College City

dscn3089While this business was planned for Monday night’s meeting, it was tabled due to a misunderstanding, Mayor Charles Snapp said. College City had intended to pay $15,000 to install a tornado siren, leaving Walnut Ridge to pay $13,000 of the remaining cash bill. However, Snapp tabled the business after a request by the smaller community’s clerk. Snapp told the council Walnut Ridge would be providing expensive equipment and installation, leveling out the $2,000 disparity which seemed to be the concern of the clerk. The business was left for discussion at a later time.

A great deal of other business was discussed in the meeting. NEA Report streams it live each month at Facebook.com/NEAReport. View the September meeting below.

Photos and report by Stan Morris.

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