New Sidewalk Project Underway; Council Approves Wage Rate Increase for Summer Personnel

By Sue Curry Jones

City councilmen acted on several issues during the closed session seg-ment of the business meeting held on Tuesday, Feb. 14.  Council accepted the resignation of Angela Brooke, a utility clerk, and according to City Clerk Suzanne Welsh, the position will be vacated, as no one will be hired to fill the position at this time.

During closed, councilmen also responded to requests posed by Park Supervisor Sherry Wallace, who asked for the following wage rate increases for 2017 pool personnel.  Raises were designated as follows:  returning lifeguards, 20¢ increase; new employees, 10¢ increase; pool manager and trainer, 20¢ increase; summer league program director, 20¢ increase; and swim team coach will receive two payments of $500 each, one at the start of the season and another at the conclusion.  It was noted the swim team coach works over 100 hours and uses a personal vehicle to fulfill duties associated with the job.

Administrative Director Peggy Porter reported city financials remain steady at $1.7 to $1.8 million.  She advised the final payment for pool repairs is due the end of this month.  Porter also provided a brief synopsis of proposed amounts needed to establish a three-month cash reserve for each department –– this amount would be set aside to cover operation costs during emergencies or financial shortfall. The numbers provided to council were calculated solely for the purpose of establishing contingency reserves.  The prospect of actually funding the accounts is still under consideration.

Mayor David Norman advised the city is still researching several burial sites at Ava Cemetery to determine if certain plots are usable.  The City is currently proposing to amend the pricing on specified lots, but as noted during the last council meeting, more information is needed before imple-menting change.  According to Norman, the functionality of some of the burial sites is questionable, since it appears the sites may be hampered by rock formations near the surface. At this time, the city’s digger truck is being used to drill holes at the sites and information will be forthcoming when that task is completed.

Norman said the latest sidewalk project, which travels from the high school to the Ava water park, is now underway.  He noted the project was proceeding along when a problem was encountered with the quarry’s rock certification which had expired.  Norman noted the quarry gravel, which will be used for the concrete, is presently undergoing testing, and it should be recertified sometime this week.  The mayor said the project has also faced other issues as several residents were unhappy with the placement of the walkway in their yard. Norman advised the project inspector had visited several sites last week and these problems were now solved by making small changes in the final location of the walkway.

The mayor acknowledged the city had recently received a letter from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) addressing deficiencies pre-viously cited on the “old” water tower located at the corner of SE 4th Avenue and SE 8th Street.  Norman said the deficiencies listed by DNR have been addressed and completed.  However, additional repairs at the tower are imminent, as ongoing maintenance is needed inside the tank and on the roof.  The improve-ments are estimated to cost $40,000 – $45,000.

The Mayor said a group recently approached the city with plans to start a disc golf league and use park facilities for their course.  League organizers said they would charge a membership fee, host tournaments and award prizes for winners.  The group also noted they would reserve 20% for course improvement costs. Norman said this poses a problem for the City of Ava as the municipality’s insurance only covers city sponsored programs, such as soccer, it would not cover on-going use by a private club and liability would be an issue.

Norman advised council that a group of local citizens has formed a downtown beautification committee and they are proposing projects to improve the Ava square.  One of the topics presented as a consideration was a plan to paint light poles on the square and install decorative covers around the base of the poles.  Norman said the group is applying for 501c3 status so grant opportunities may be available to them in the future.  He also noted the committee will be posing other projects and these will become considerations for council and the City of Ava.

Norman said bid opening for the airport runway project is set for Wednesday, March 8.  Financing of the project is yet to be determined.

The municipal court docket was approved as presented. Motions to accept were by Burrely Loftin, and Keith Jones.  The vote was 3-0.

Councilmen present were Stan Lovan, Burrely Loftin, and Keith Jones.   Alderman Leon Harris was absent.  Noel Dye, who is running unopposed for a west ward council seat, was also in attendance.

Council reconvenes Tuesday, Feb. 28, 5:00 p.m. at City Hall.  Meetings are open to the public.