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Resident angered over election restrictions

By John Miller, 08/20/14 10:23 AM

Hope City Hall

HOPE – A local resident voiced her displeasure at not being able to run for a seat on the Hope Board of Directors.

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Board, Ella Flenory said she had gotten about 80 people to sign a petition for her to seek office, had it notarized and was told she doesn’t live in the city limits by Hope City Manager Catherine Cook. Flenory said her address shows her to live across from Northside Park; she votes in Ward 1 and wanted to be on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The problem, she said, is she wasn’t told she didn’t live in the city limits until after she’d done all the work.

Hope Mayor Dennis Ramsey said this isn’t the first time something similar has happened, but county records show Flenory lives outside the city limits and pays the county’s ad valorum tax, not the city’s rate. He pointed out this is state law and has nothing to do with the city. Ramsey told her the state sets the requirements and anyone wanting to hold a city office must live inside the corporate limits and the zone they’re running for.

Flenory read the state laws and said she plans to seek action and look for other options. She told the board she was asked to run after retiring. She added that Cook was the person who’d given her the paperwork to run and said she should have been told at that time she wasn’t eligible.

Ramsey replied saying the city didn’t know about the situation until last Thursday.

Flenory continued complaining saying Cook had Board member Willie Walker call her instead of calling herself. Ramsey said he told Cook to have Walker make the call. He continued saying no one can represent the city unless they live in the corporate limits and, according to county records, she doesn’t.

In other business the Board approved a resolution showing support of a proposed state prison project.

Cook said several counties were represented at a recent meeting with State Sen. Jim Hickey in Texarkana concerning the prison. Hickey, who’s trying to put the project together, said a multi county group would have a better chance of getting it than an individual community. She pointed out the project, at this time, is not funded by the Arkansas Legislature and might not be.

The reason behind the proposal, she added, is because of the overcrowding conditions in the state penitentiaries. At this time 2,200 state prisoners are being held in county jails, which puts a burden on them and the state doesn’t pay what it costs to house these inmates. In addition, she said, the state doesn’t pay in a timely manner at times.

There will be several requirements for any area vying for the prison, she said. The land needs to be roughly square or rectangular, at least 400 acres with access to a paved road, a hospital and a college along with being able to access all utilities. Cook told the board she’s been trying to find a site in Hempstead County and will advertise looking for property owners that may be interested, but it hasn’t been easy. “The only way it will work is to put together multiple property owner sites.”

While water may be accessible, she said, sewer access could prove to be more difficult.

Wesley Woodard, executive director of the Hempstead County Economic Development Corporation, said this is nothing more than a wish list at this time and the state hasn’t authorized a request for information. This, he added, is to drum up support for when the legislature meets next year.

Seismic zones are also important, he said, and Southwest Arkansas is one of the few places in the state that will have what the state is looking for there.

Hope Police Chief J.R. Wilson was given permission to apply for an Arkansas State Police special state asset forfeiture fund. He told the panel this is a new funding source for the HPD and will allow the department to purchase certain kinds of equipment. He went through the requirements for the fund, saying the HPD meets them all.

What the department wants, he said, is to buy equipment for a vehicle for the K-9 unit with a new box to make the dog safe and have the car opened on command. This, he told the board, would cost about $6,400, but would be fully funded.

The board agreed to make a tour again this year before sitting down to work on the 2015 budget. Cook gave the panel two dates in October to consider. The board will discuss this at a future meeting.

Cook said the mosquito sprayer went out and, even though the season is nearly over, she decided the city couldn’t do without it and ordered a new motor for $3,000. When it arrives and is installed, spraying will resume and be done four nights a week.

The panel discussed recent derailments at the industrial park, primarily the one that occurred Friday. Cook said heavy equipment was moved in Saturday and moved six rail cars with help from city crews from all departments. She said these were not nice days to be doing this kind of work as it was extremely hot.

Bids, she said, have been obtained for repairing the track and they range from $19,000 to $147,000. Cook said because of the disparity in the bids she will try to get better quotes. It was pointed out the businesses that use the rail spur most will be responsible for paying for the repairs. These industries, Georgia Pacific, Momentive and New Millennium, will have their shares prorated bases on their individual usage.

Hope Water and Light, she said, asked the Hope Fire Department to do an exercise on HWL property across from the Hope Municipal Airport. However, some things have to be done to the house before it could be used as a training exercise with the utility agreeing to get them done before anything is agreed upon. One of the stipulations is HWL would be required to remove the debris to the landfill after the structure is burned. Area volunteer fire departments will be included in the exercise.

Cook updated the panel on the EDA grant for the Magnolia project that would be used as a road project off North Hazel near I-30 for an eventual business complex for tractor-trailer rigs. She said preliminary consideration for the $1.79 million project has been given, but there has been no confirmation the city will get the money at this time. She said the city should know by the first of October.

A final order of business was to continue allowing an in-city deer hunt. Last year, Cook said, 10 people got permits with one man killing two deer. This hunt will be within the city limits and has nothing to do with the airport hunt.

  • harry111

    Omg I see al sharpton visiting hope. Crazy how folks don’t get it that there are laws to live by smh