Tuesday, October 28, 2014

TOP STORY >> AARP hosts Stumbaugh, Cypert duel

Leader staff writer

The Cabot chapter of AARP held a candidates forum Monday night at the senior center with only three candidates speaking on the issues with voters: Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert, who is seeking re-election; his opponent, former mayor Mickey (Stubby) Stumbaugh, and Democrat John Hudspeth, who is running for Lonoke County justice of the peace in District 8 against Republican Tate House.

Cypert said Cabot has a bright future. “It’s going in the right direction with a lot at stake,” the mayor said.

“Working together, Cabot will be one of the best places in America to live, work and invest,” he said.

Cypert said the library is scheduled to open in the spring. The sports and water complex will open next fall. The North Terminal Interchange is to be completed in the next five years. All of the projects were approved by voters.

Plans for a new senior center are being discussed. The center would move next door after remodeling the neighboring library building or move to a new location.

The mayor said the city is also looking at adding a therapy pool with warmer water for seniors as part of community center renovations.

“Quality of life is economic development. We are building a city where your kids and grandkids will want to live,” Cypert said.

Stubby Stumbaugh was elected as mayor in 2002. He is a 1986 Cabot High School graduate. He said people should know the truth about his term while mayor.

As mayor, his priorities were streets, water and drug-related crime. Stumbaugh said when he took office Cabot had a huge problem with crystal methamphetamine and meth labs. It affected many people in town. If elected mayor, Stumbaugh said he will not run for another office, as he did when he ran for Congress at the end of his mayoral term.

“I don’t want this community to be a place to raise our children and grandchildren. I want this place to be awesome for you to live, right now,” Stumbaugh said.


“Throughout this campaign you’ve probably heard people say with a big fat lie coming out of their mouths that I left this city broke. The truth of the matter is we spent money on city services,” Stumbaugh said.

Stumbaugh said during his four years of being mayor, Cabot was the third fastest growing city in the state and fifth fastest in the nation per capita.

“We were growing by leaps and bounds, on an average 100 people per month moving into this town. In four years, we had almost 5,000 people. We were providing services to 23,000 people on a 15,000 people budget, which is virtually impossible,” Stumbaugh said.

He said during 2006 as mayor, the city did a special census costing $600,000. When the census results were completed, in 2007 the city received millions of dollars of turnback money over the next four years because the city spent $600,000 for the future of Cabot.

“We left money in the bank and the ability to pay the bills. When I took over as mayor, we were late paying our bills by 90 to 100 days. When you have phenomenal growth, you are going to have that stuff. People want services and deserve services. They pay their taxes. It is because the city and those people in charge did not make the effort to look at a special census to try and receive some of this turnback money,” Stumbaugh said.

He said Cabot did some great things when he was mayor. He said the animal shelter was built. Millions of dollars worth of sidewalks were laid to connect schools. Stumbaugh said when he was in office, the city no longer waived any sidewalks in subdivisions under construction. Because sidewalks were waived it lessened the ability to get sidewalk money and grants from Metroplan and the federal highway department.

“That probably made me very unpopular amongst the homebuilders association. That’s fine, because I wasn’t elected by the homebuilders association. I was elected by the people of this town to represent the people, the views and the values of the citizens of this city and not some special interest or the good ol’ boy system,” Stumbaugh said.

Stumbaugh also spoke about the Veterans Park Community Center.

“They say Stubby built that community center and it needed $900,000 of improvements to the roof. You know what—I am not a building inspector. I didn’t vote on the construction company. I didn’t even vote on the engineer. I didn’t vote on the architect,” Stumbaugh said.

“Some people say that I had a hand it in, but it was voted on by the city council that was opposed to anything I wanted done anyway. They voted for every one of those things to be put into place, and we built a very nice Veterans Memorial Community Center,” Stumbaugh continued.

“It was voted on by the people, and the people got exactly what they wanted. Sure, there was some shoddy stuff. There were holes cut into the roof after my administration, which caused the roof to deteriorate,” Stumbaugh said.

He said the talk of needing a community center for 25 years stopped.

Stubby said he wants a fire department, police department and street department that loves coming to work every day and protecting the citizens that pays their salaries.

A suggestion box once hung outside city hall has since been removed. Stumbaugh said when he was mayor, he let anyone speak during the city council meeting who had an issue.

“If you live in the city of Cabot, you have a voice with me in the mayor’s office,” Stumbaugh said.


Cypert said West Main Street can be four lanes, but would lose a left turn lane in a high commercial and business area. Cypert does not believe the state Highway Department would allow it.

Cypert said the city’s plan is to get traffic in and out Cabot efficiently and reduce volume on Main Street. He thanked voters for passing a half-cent sales state tax in 2012 for four-lane highway improvements and for local streets. Hwy. 67/167 is being widening to six lanes from Jacksonville to Cabot and later improvement will start on Exit 16 and Exit 19.

“When I came into office our city streets were a decade or more behind in maintenance. That is unacceptable. With our growth in revenue and the half-cent sales tax over the next decade the city will have $8 million to $10 million in state turnback funds to improve, overlay and repave streets,” Cypert said.

A detailed list of eight miles of streets in need of repairs and overlays over the next two years is listed on the city’s website, Cypert said.

An AARP member said she loved the new traffic circles and wanted more.

“The roundabouts on Lincoln (Street) have been a phenomenal success. Cars never stop and wait, other than getting into the roundabout,” Cypert said.

Cypert said if more traffic circles are needed they will be built. A traffic signal can cost around $325,000. The new signal on Hwy. 367 and Hwy. 38 intersection was $700,000 including renovations to connect it to the freeway when the North Interchange is completed. Traffic circles have low maintenance, just the pavement. The two Lincoln Street roundabouts were a partnership with the Cabot School District and cost $625,000.

“Downtown Cabot is a whole lot different than downtown Conway. The roundabouts need to be built wide enough that all types of vehicles can fit around them,” Stumbaugh said.

An AARP member thought the new street light poles being installed along West Main Street were pretty and very nice. Cypert said the streetscape started in 2010.

“Community development is important. When new people come to town at looking and living here or putting a business here, they get off Exit 19, the gateway to the city. They need to see pristine, clean and impressive roadways. Not what we had all these years with the overhead lines, ditches with stagnate water and no sidewalks for people to walk,” Cypert said.

“There are a lot of people living in the downtown area that don’t own cars. They live in the apartment complexes and need a safe way to get to their shopping destinations,” the mayor said.

The street lights are placed close together because the Highway Department says no light can shine into the driver’s eyes. The light shoots down and do not blind drivers,” Cypert said.

Stumbaugh had a different view. “I love this town and think it needs to be more beautified. While those street lights are pretty, you’ll have plenty of time to look at them stuck in traffic. It started with three lanes and still has three lanes. The answer to the problem is $310 million. Where do we get that? We’ve got to continue on like the mayor said,” Stumbaugh said.

“I think the timing of the (signal) lights is pathetic. Traffic was awful then, and it is still awful. The timing of the traffic lights can be changed and improved upon as permissible by the Highway Department. Every one of these street lights are on a state highway and you have to go through (the Highway Department) to get permission of changing those times,” Stumbaugh said.

Stumbaugh said when he was mayor the city hired a traffic engineer from Hot Springs. The city lights were timed through the cooperation of the Highway Department. Traffic moved better then, he said.

“This town needs many things. One of things I think this town needs is a street sweeper. Our town is dirty, our streets are dirty, and we need something that’s going to clean this place up. A little bit of money will fix a whole lot of things,” Stumbaugh said.


John Hudspeth is seeking to represent voters in northeast Lonoke County communities of Woodlawn, Butlerville and residents living east of Hwy. 31.

“The main reason I want to run is to let people in my district know what was happening, so they wouldn’t get blindsided,” Hudspeth said.

Hudspeth said the Butler-ville Fire Chief came to the Lonoke County Quorum Court meeting and wanted the county to impose an additional $50 onto the property tax of residents living in the Butlerville fire district.

“Which is probably a good thing, but the people ought to know about it and vote on it,” Hudspeth said.

“I griped about politicians all my life and so decided to get my feet wet,” Hudspeth said.