Tuesday, August 18, 2015

TOP STORY >> 45 years of service recognized

Leader staff writer

Cabot Alderman Ann Gilliam was pleasantly surprised at Monday’s city council meeting with a citation presented by state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) recognizing her 45 years of public service. She’s been on the council seven years.

Williams, the former mayor of Cabot, told The Leader after the meeting, “I’ve had the privilege of working with her for many years, and she’s one of those people who changes the personality of Cabot. It doesn’t matter what she does. Whatever she sets her hands to, she does a great job.”

Gilliam, after receiving the citation, told The Leader she was born in the city and never left. She is so involved because “I enjoy doing things for other people.”

Williams added that she helps people who are less fortunate during the holidays and, although he doesn’t know how old Gilliam is, she’s “been here her whole life.”

He said, “I think she’s genuine…I can’t say enough good about her. She’s a precious lady and a good friend of mine, and I deeply respect her. She never asks for attention. She doesn’t want to be up front. She just wants to get the job done.”

In other business:

• Deborah Moore, director of the Lonoke/Prairie County Regional Library System, told the council, “I’d like to say that today, Aug. 17, officially changed the footprint of the Cabot library and the footprint for the city of Cabot. We opened this morning with people in line within 30 minutes. As of 15 minutes before we closed, we’d had 506 people come through our doors.”

The new $2.6 million Cabot Public Library opened Monday at its new location on Main Street. Moore thanked the council, voters and all others who supported the project.

Mayor Bill Cypert said she and her staff had done a “phenomenal job” in keeping the project on time and on budget despite some bad weather.

“Cabot is fast branding itself as a city of education…My dream, and it’s no secret, is that the whole area will become a center for adult education, kids’ education, and I think that’s something we can make happen over the next five to 10 years,” the mayor said.

• The council voted to save $50,546 a year by outsourcing payroll to Ellis, Tucker and Aldridge, LLP, and amended the personnel handbook to accommodate the change.

The mayor said the savings would help Cabot add another firefighter and a warrants clerk for the police department into its 2016 budget.

The new payroll process will affect the 139 people who received paychecks from the city and was thought of when officials learned Cabot’s payroll clerk would be retiring.

• The council passed a resolution adopting an access management plan for Hwy. 321. Alderman Doyle Tullos asked City Attorney Jim Taylor if it could be changed later.

Taylor said the plan had the blessing of the state Highway Department and was an effort to avoid, before development of that area, the cut-throughs that occurred in the downtown area.

Long answered that the plan could be amended if needed, but it would have to go back through the Planning Commission, state Highway Department, Metroplan — a process that would take at least a year. The council had looked at the plan and revised it previously, he noted.

• The council rezoned 114 Financial Drive from R-1 (single family) to C-2 (general commercial) with a special use to allow self-storage units.

Project manager Tim Lemons asked the council to adopt an emergency clause, making the rezoning effective immediately rather than 30 days from passage.

Lemons said the property has had a C-2 use for some time but had been annexed into the city as R-1. The closing of the sale is contingent on the rezoning being approved with the emergency clause this month, he explained.

The council did not pass the emergency clause after Alderman Ed Long said he was concerned too many of those were being requested for rezoning ordinances.

Alderman Rick Prentice questioned whether people knew about the typical process, which is to hold three readings before adopting an ordinance, although the council can suspend readings by a two-thirds vote. Emergency clauses also require yes votes from two-thirds of the council.

Lemons responded that more public education is needed, and the mayor agreed.

Lemons also said he always tells people about the rezoning process, but his firm is sometimes contacted after the selling timeline is set.

• The council rezoned 3980 S. First St. from R-1 to C-2 with a special use to allow self-storage units. That ordinance had been read three times.

• The council held the second reading of an ordinance rezoning 308 N. Madison from R-1 to O-1 (quiet commercial).

• The council held the second reading of an ordinance rezoning 707, 709 and 711 Campground Road from R-1 to O-1.

 The council reappointed Dennis Hyland to the Planning Commission.