Tuesday, October 20, 2015

TOP STORY >> Cabot gets award for managing its floods

Leader staff writer

Aldermen at Monday’s council meeting learned that Cabot is the Arkansas Floodplain Management Association’s City of the Year.

Cabot Police Chief Jackie Davis was also recognized for being named Chief of the Year by the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police. At the meeting, he received state Senate and House citations plus the mayor’s proclamation declaring this week to be Jackie Ray Davis Week in the city.

The council also voted unanimously to set an election coinciding with the March 1 primary to fill an open seat. Early voting starts Feb. 15.

Alderman Dallan Buchanan resigned Oct. 1 from representing Zone 2 in Position 1 to pursue a job in another city.

Chuck Eick, who attended the council’s agenda-setting meeting on Oct. 5, told the aldermen then that the cost of putting the race on the upcoming primary election ballot would be “minimal.”

Saying he didn’t have the exact figures, Eick gave The Leader a ballpark estimate of under $500 because labor makes up most of the expense and would already be provided. There will be additional costs if a runoff is needed.

Eick said earlier this month that a separate special election would have cost about $6,500, according to the state’s election council.

A few on the council said at the earlier meeting that Damon Bivins, Nicky Spillane and former Alderman Ryan Flynn are interested in Buchanan’s seat.

The filing dates for candidates are Nov. 2-9, according to the resolution the council passed. It also states that the drawing for ballot position will be held by Dec. 3 and the county’s election commission shall certify results on March 11.

There was little discussion of the election resolution at Monday’s meeting.

But state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams asked whether the alderman race would appear on ballots for both the Democrat and Republican primaries. Alderman Ann Gilliam said she asked the secretary of state the same question and was told the issue would be on both.

Mayor Bill Cypert told Williams he should confirm that with the Lonoke County Election Commission.

In other business:

• The mayor, Alderman Ed Long, Public Works Director Brian Boroughs, floodplain manager Karen Knebal and city employee Paul Ross accepted the City of the Year award in September at an event held in Eureka Springs.

Cabot was awarded the honor for its commitment to floodplain management at the local level.

That commitment, the mayor noted, was demonstrated through the city’s completion of 118 drainage improvements between 2011 and 2014, many in the Diamond Creek and Kerr Station basins.

Cabot had two almost 500-year rain events with no significant floodwater issues recorded.

The city obtained FEMA grant funding last year to conduct a flood elevation study on the Diamond Creek basin that is 90 percent complete and to build a detention pond behind Central Elementary School.

The mayor said Cabot also implemented a drainage ditch and detention pond foliage control program this year that aims to make the ditches look cleaner and better, reduce mowing costs and improve flow in larger rain events.

• Police Chief Davis has been with the department for 30 years, according to the proclamation. He joined the Cabot force in 1985, at the age of 21.

Davis became police chief in 1997. He has served at that post under four mayors and has worked for a total of seven mayors.

Davis has also been secretary and treasurer for the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police, was appointed to the State Crime Lab Board and is on the Central Arkansas Crime Stoppers Board.

Williams, who presented the Senate citation, said Davis was nervous when he was first asked to be chief. Williams said Davis pointed out to him then that the chief could be fired quickly if the mayor didn’t like him.

The senator noted that he must have done a good job because he’d served four since then, including Williams himself.

State Rep. Tim Lemons presented the House citation. He spoke about how Davis let him out a jam one time when the air conditioning blowing balloons around on a secretary’s desk set off the alarm at Lemons’ business three times.

Lemons explained that a police officer had told him he’d have to pay a fine for three or more false calls, but Davis waived the fine after hearing what happened.

Cypert added at the end of the presentation, “When it comes to police work, he knows when to hold ‘em, and he knows when to fold ‘em. By that I mean he knows precisely for every situation what should or shouldn’t be done.”

• The council authorized the mayor and city clerk-treasurer to purchase a 2007 dump truck for $45,000 from Holt and Sons, Inc.

• The council accepted the lowest bid of $41,956 from Action Sign and Neon, Inc., for municipal signs.

• The council rezoned 85 S. Pine St. from R-1 (single-family residential) to C-2 (general commercial) without an emergency clause, which means the new zoning designation is effective 30 days from Monday. The first readings for two ordinances rezoning 501 and 607 S. Pine St. were held.

Ordinances must be read three times or have readings waived before they can be approved.

 The council passed an ordinance setting the millage rate, which remained the same. An ordinance setting the millage must be approved every year.