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  1. Leaders Lawyer Up

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    February 23, 2012 by Steve Winkler

    My wife and I enjoy watching teevee police dramas on DVD. We like to give sections of the show a second viewing to find that visual clue that can be overlooked. The shows all stick pretty close to the same formula; find the body, introduce suspects, investigate, throw in a plot twist, have a chase and put the bad guys away. One of the standard scenes for these shows is the interrogation of a suspect. The detectives are sweating the suspect when he/she suddenly realizes they may be in bigger trouble than they thought and ask for an attorney. This is when Brisco exits the interrogation room and tells Lt. Van Buren “they lawyered up.” Sophisticated police drama fans know what this means; suspect can no longer be questioned. Darn. (But this of course pushes the story forward). This was the mental image I got when the Observer asked West Fork council members to explain their vote granting spot zoning for Mike Landa’s residential property in a residential zone which created a two acre commercial zone. Here’s what Observer reporter Renee Reed encountered. Email inquiries were sent to the six aldermen and alderwomen who voted for overriding the planning commission. …

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  2. Rezoning Vetoed

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    February 20, 2012 by Steve Winkler

    The West Fork rezoning saga isn’t over. Mayor Frances Hime filed a letter today with City Clerk, Kristie Drymon notifying her of the mayor’s veto of the city council’s  “decision in favor of Mr. Michael Landa’s Appeal of the West Fork Planning Commission’s denial of his application for rezoning of 997 McKnight from residential to commercial. In her letter Mayor Hime said she has placed Mr. Landa’s appeal on the March Council Agenda “where a discussion of any legal basis for the Council’s decision may have been contrary to the public interest.” Mayor Hime was not in attendance, recusing herself from the appeal because of her litigation with Landa. Charlie Rossetti, who served as mayor pro tem during the meeting, is currently engaged in a real estate deal with Landa. The appeal passed 6-0. Councilman John Foster was not in attendance. Read the Observer’s previous coverage of the rezoning issue here and here.

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  3. Can I be Your Boss?

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    February 19, 2012 by Steve Winkler

    If you’ve lived in West Fork long enough to have had any dealings with city hall, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the long-standing GAB Policy (Go Ask “Butch”). For decades, Mr. Bartholomew has been the go-to-guy for permission, advice and favors covering the full range of city services. A few months after the citizens elected the reform-minded Frances Hime as mayor, she removed his Business Manager title. But Mr. “B” is the darling of the council and they have gradually been restoring his domain. His influence in the lot split process was returned a few months ago. Then at the January council meeting, during a discussion of a school groups request to use the city’s marquee in front of city hall (aka hillbilly website), the council designated Mr. B to be the guardian of the marquee message. OK, it’s a small thing. Then while trying to understand the process for recruiting and selecting volunteer citizens to fill the four vacant positions on city commissions I became aware that there is no application form to be filled out. So, how does one apply for one of the openings on the Planning or Water Commission? You guessed it Go Ask Butch. Keep in …

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  4. PSAs for week of Feb. 20 – Feb. 26

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    February 17, 2012 by wcobserver

    TENNIS ANYONE? Rebecca Buchanan from Winslow will be offering tennis classes and private lessons beginning in March at Carter Park in West Fork. The classes will be open to girls and boys, 6-18 years of age. The weekly classes will be age and skill appropriate and last approximately one hour. Cost will be $10 per student, per class. There will be a discount for families with more than two children. For more information contact Rebecca: thatbeckygirl@hotmail.com. LEARN TO WHITTLE Mr. Brotherton, husband of local author Velda Brotherton is considering starting a “Whittling in Winslow” class here in town. If you are interested in attending a class on whittling/woodcarving please contact Rita Wuttke at 479-634-2026, or contact Mr. Brotherton at 479-634-3151. FREE CLASSES for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers funded by a grant from Arkansas Arts Council. One of the most exciting new programs is a partnership with the Cancer Support Home. These classes are very popular. Please contact the Washington Regional Cancer Support Home at (479) 521-8024 or (479) 463-2868 to register and find out details. OLD CAR, NEW PURPOSE The Office of Human Concern is accepting older, running vehicles to help support OHC low-income programs for seniors, disabled and …

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  5. New Fiscal Session, New Rules

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    February 17, 2012 by Matthew Jones

    This week, the Arkansas State Legislature began its second special fiscal session, which was approved in 2008 by a referred amendment to the people of Arkansas. The session is designed to be a time when the legislature can focus on budgets and changes to the budgets to adjust to the needs of their constituents. This being since Arkansas is one of a handful of states whose legislature meets only every other year. However, new rules around how certain members of the legislature raise money for elections and primaries change the nature of the political landscape in Arkansas. While there are no new rules on when senators can raise funds, members of the House cannot raise any money during the fiscal session. Meanwhile their opponents can raise funds, if they are not members of the House. Such is the case of Rep. Tim Summers, R-Harrison, who is running for the new Senate District 1 seat and cannot raise funds due to the fact that he is a member of the house. Sen. Bill Pritchard, R-Elkins, one of the two Republicans running for the District 7 Senate seat, currently held by Sen. Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville, has decided to hold of fundraising until …

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  6. ZONED-OUT: City Reverses Planning Commission Rezoning Decision

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    February 15, 2012 by wcobserver

    WEST FORK — Long-time residential and agricultural zones in West Fork are now open to spot commercial zoning thanks to a unanimous, but spiritedly debated, decision from the city council on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The issue is the result of anl appeal made by Mike Landa, whose request to rezone his residential property to commercial was denied by the West Fork Planning Commission during its January meeting. “Why do I want to rezone?” asked Landa rhetorically, during his lengthy and animated presentation. “Because it’s my right.” Landa, near the conclusion of council’s discussion, said the “big thing is, I want a bigger deduction, too, on my taxes.” There were other reasons Landa, who is chairman of the planning commission, appealed the commission’s decision. Those reaons were presented by his Bentonville lawyer, Darrell Gibby. Gibby said the planning commission process was “tainted” because of the votes from married commissioners Bob  Staats and Robyn Wilson. Gibby called it “undo influence” and reported that Mayor Frances Hime, a neighbor of Landa’s, contacted members of the planning commission to “influence the decision.” None of this speculative evidence was corroborated by counsel at the meeting, although Hime and Landa are currently in litigation over a …

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  7. We Don’t Need No Stinking Zones

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    February 15, 2012 by Steve Winkler

    Applause broke out at the West Fork Council Meeting Feb. 14 when Mike Landa received a unanimous “yes” vote on his appeal of a Planning Commission denial for a rezoning of his property on McKnight Ave. from residential to commercial. Not everybody was thrilled. His next door neighbor who thought he had made his home in a quiet neighborhood of estate homes was now living next to a commercial property complete with trailer truck traffic, swimming lessons, a playground and the ultimate noise maker, a front-yard heliport. Some council members seemed confused by the complexity of the issue and big words being used. The city attorney mentioned “arbitrary and capricious” without explaining the meaning. He did, however, point out the can of worms they would open if they created a commercial island-zone in the residential area. The council, however, liked the other argument that there was already commercial activity on the street. Never mind that it was there because the city hasn’t been vigilant in enforcing zoning and land use regulations. The point that was driven home by Landa and his attorney throughout the presentation and the one that resonated with the council was that Landa “Had a Right.” Plus, …

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