Wednesday, April 01, 2009

TOP STORY >> Cabot mayor sees continued progress

Leader staff writer

Cabot is doing well in great part because of the efforts of city, county, state and local leaders whom Mayor Eddie Joe Williams considers a part of his team.

“If you’re soloing in this city, you’re heading for a rude awakening,” Williams told 150 members of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce during a noon luncheon Monday.

When he was campaigning three years ago for mayor, the top three complaints he heard about were “traffic, traffic and traffic,” Williams told a crowd that seemed to understand the problem well.

Now, he said, to the apparent surprise of some in the audience, that the No. 1 complaint he gets is barking dogs followed by potholes and flooding.

Williams gave credit to Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman for building two freeway frontage roads, one of which opened only last week, that have helped ease traffic congestion.

He also thanked the state Highway Department for the widening and re-striping that has added extra lanes and helped with timing the traffic signals to improve the flow.

And he thanked the school district, which is the reason people move to Cabot but also the reason for the traffic jams.

When school is in session, 2,000 – 3,000 cars move through Cabot during the 20 minutes before and after school, he said. The school district has worked with the city to reroute traffic to improve the flow and the mayor says it’s working.

“Without cooperation from the district we would be in terrible shape,” the mayor said.

He said he was grateful to Little Rock Air Force Base for giving Cabot 40 percent of its population.

He thanked State Sen. Bobby Glover (D-Carlisle) for helping the city to get $150,000 from the state to buy land for the $8.2 million armory that should be under construction this summer.

He thanked Rep. Marion Berry (D-Gillett) for his help in getting the armory located there and trying to help get money to build the north interchange, which would further alleviate traffic congestion.

When Williams took office in January 2007, there was not enough money in the bank to make payroll. The city now has about $3 million not immediately needed to pay bills.

He cut staff to save on payroll and he has required department heads to follow tight budgets.

“Cabot has done well financially because people continue to watch how they spend money,” he told the chamber members.

He promised that traffic will continue to be a priority. That is important because even though construction has not bounced back to where it was before the economy soured, it is doing better than last year. And that means that Cabot is still growing.