May 15, 2012 by wcobserver
By Observer Staff
An overflow crowd packed the West Fork City Administration Building May 8 but not everybody was there for the council meeting. It was also “conflict night” for the West Fork District Court when many of the cases are transferred form Prairie Grove. Also, the regular monthly West Fork city council meeting followed a public hearing on the proposed dog ordinance.
After all the crowds dissipated the council chewed away at a full agenda for a productive two and a half hours.
The issue of speed bumps came before the council again. But rather than a group of neighbors petitioning the council to have the “traffic calming” devices installed on their street, Tuesday night’s concern was whether the bumps on Clifton Place were excessive in number and size and are having a negative affective on property values on the street.
Charlie Eickenberry, a local rental property owner, objected to the city installing three speed bumps on one block long Clifton Place where he owns four properties without the city inviting his opinion on the matter. Eickenberry suggested writing speeding tickets to generate income “rather than the City spending thousands of dollars on materials, machinery and manpower to create a situation that is irritating to the innocent residences and damaging to their vehicles. Punishing the many to control the few is not the American way.” He also asked that the turnaround at the end of the street be repaired.
Councilmember Misty Caudle who lives on the street and was instrumental in collecting signatures supporting the installation of the speed bumps aggressively quizzed Eickenberry about the matter. She noted that he was not a resident of the city and told him, “you have made false statements” in his letter to the city. [The Eickenberrys have a West Fork zip code and have lived in the area since 1972].
Mayor Hime suggested a solution could be reached by having the street reviewed and possibly removing one of the speed bumps. The mayor said that the issue will be put on the June meeting agenda.
Last month, city workers were observed mowing property belonging to West Fork Planning Commission Chair Mike Landa. Although Mr. Landa did not ask for this to be done, Mayor Frances Hime sent a bill to him in order to protect him; it is illegal for city officials to have gratis work done by the city. The Observer asked for and received a list of property that is being mowed by city employees.
The incident prompted the City Council to review what process is in place to notify citizens that their yards need attending. In the past it was complaint-driven, and eventually the process fell by the wayside.
Mowing by the City cannot be without a charge. After discussion, Councilperson John Foster made a motion that the owner be notified by the chief, then by letter if needed. If there is no compliance a $250 mowing fee for real estate under an acre, and $500 for anything over an acre will be charged. The motion passed.
However, in the interest of public health, Councilperson Charlie Rossetti asked that until the new process is in place, the city mow the properties that currently need it. Councilperson Julie Shafer made this motion, Mr. Rossetti seconded it and the motion passed.
Boys Scout Anthony Togle, who is working on his citizenship badge, asked if it is volunteers can mow or help people that are unable to take care of their lawns. The Mayor replied that is would be okay. He will speak to his leader, but is not sure that volunteers can be secured.
At the April council meeting a resolution was presented and tabled concerning compensation for council members. The resolution suggested a $150 payment. Former city clerk/treasurer spoke up and said she didn’t object to compensation, but suggested a $75 amount.
Resident Jimmy Jones agreed with Paula Caudle, but questioned the city’s ability to pay for it and asked about the status of the audits. Mayor Hime said the city has funds available for council member compensation. Resident Michele Winkler spoke in favor of council reimbursement noting that future council members may find the reimbursement useful for such things as babysitters and if a member didn’t want the money he or she was free to donate it the city library. Misty Caudle favored reimbursement “because residents can hold the members accountable for their actions.”
Julie Shafer moved and Joan Wright seconded a motion to table the motion for a second time. Motion passed.
Mayor Hime presented Sarah Sitzer as an applicant for approval to the position of city clerk. Hime had interviewed three applicants and explained in the packet the five point criteria she used in the selection process. Ms. Setzer introduced herself and related her 14 years of experience with the Eureka Springs School Board and answered questions. Charlie Rossetti was concerned that she lived in West Fork and would run for election in November. Rossetti moved for the Council to review and interview all applicants and have them all attend the June Council meeting.
In other business, the Mayor Hime explained some of the City’s costs related to the Code Red program. Councilmember Shafer moved to authorize $2,000 to be spent for the program.
It was announced that U.S. Representative Steve Womack will hold a District Constituent Service meeting June 22 from 10-2 at the City Administration Building.