The Mena City Council met Tuesday evening for their regular monthly meeting and dealt with a unusually long agenda and heard Mayor Seth Smith's State of the City address.
City Council members tended to routine business, heard reports from department heads and committees. Airport manager Fred Ogden reported that there had been an accidental death at one of the airport businesses last week. Hospital administrator Jay Quebedeaux spoke briefly about Coronavirus concerns, and also said that talks with Baptist Health about a possible takeover of the Mena hospital were nearing the due diligence stage.
Two resolutions were passed, one concerning a Streetscape project for Mena, the other authorizing the Mayor Seth Smith and Mena Water Utilities Manager Charles Pitman to explore funding opportunities for a wastewater treatment facility upgrade or new plant.
The Council voted 5 to 1 to approve an application for a private club license for Little Italy.
Bids were approved for overlay work on Janssen Avenue, a new lawnmower for the Parks Department, re-roofing of the historic Janssen Park Cabin and the rock storage building in Janssen Park.
The next regular City Council meeting will be at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, 2020. There will likely be a special meeting to take care of administrative matters next week.
Mayor Smith’s State of the City Address
March 10, 2020
ADMINISTRATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
To the honorable members of the Mena City Council, city employees, ladies and gentlemen of the audience, and my fellow citizens, I am pleased to report to you on the “State of the City” of Mena, Arkansas for the year of 2019.
Revenues from City and County Sales taxes reflected sizable gains over the year before. City sales tax was up 3.65% and the County sales tax was up 3.98% over 2018. We feel like the collection of online sales tax has had a positive impact on our returns.
The City Council approved an operating budget of $3,881,074.00 for 2019. As has been the practice for the last several years, a very conservative approach was taken with budget projections. And, because of this careful management, I am proud to say the City ended the year with a strong bottom line.
The 2019 twelve-month financial statement, which reflects revenues and expenditures for all City departments, is incorporated as a part of this report and details the financial “State of the City”.
- Building and Construction -
Permits were issued for six new homes and a major new commercial construction project in Mena last year which amounted to approximately 8.6 million dollars of new construction for our community and resulted in over $7,000 in permit fees to the City. We haven’t seen this amount of new construction in decades.
36 building permits were issued during last year for a total construction cost of $8,572,337.00.
Other permits issued included:
After several years of attempts, the Enforcement Department was successful in getting the old building at the corner of Reeves Avenue & Reine Street torn down and removed.
ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION
Revenues from the Advertising and Promotion tax in Mena help pay for promotions to recruit visitors to our area and fund events such as the Lum and Abner, Christmas, and 4th of July Festivals.
Pasha Watson took over the responsibilities of Marketing and Festival Consultant in August of 2019 in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce contract with the A & P Commission.
The A & P tax collections in 2019 were diverse in that restaurant taxes were up by almost 3%; however, the lodging taxes were down by 14% from 2018. Several lodging establishments are in arrears which impacts these totals; therefore, this percentage could decrease when all of the collections for the year come in and possibly make it a positive number.
- Tapley Park -
In 2019, the Mena A & P Commission again allocated 50 % of their operating budget toward the development and maintenance of
Tapley Park. With this support the Park continues to grow and improve. In a cooperative effort with UARM a collegiate soccer field was built at Tapley which increases the usability of the park.
In February 2019 Phillip Lance was hired as the new Parks and Recreation Director to oversee the operations of Tapley Park.
Tapley Park serves the area youth with multiple playgrounds, baseball, softball, and soccer leagues each year.
o Baseball - 300
o Softball - 190
o Soccer - 200
o Adult Co-ed - 50
Status report and highlights for Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport for the year 2019 and early 2020:
The airport was awarded a 90/10 FAA Capital Improvement Plan grant to rehabilitate the north-south runway. The engineering work is expected to cost $166,000; the FAA portion of the cost is $149,400 and the remaining 10% is expected to be funded by the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics (ADA).
The Arkansas Department of Aeronautics also awarded the airport a 90/10 grant in the amount of $150,000 to build a much-needed parking area on the north end of Taxiway B. The budgeted cost of the project is $166,666.67. The 10% match will come from funds generated at the airport from hangar and lot leases.
Phase I of the Taxiway B project is nearing completion. Completion of Phase II is expected by May 2020. The Taxiway B project was funded by two grants from the FAA. One grant is a 90/10 Airport Improvement Plan grant for up to $3,723,187. The second grant, which is being used to fund Phase II, is a 100% grant issued under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 for $1,098,529 and was awarded in September 2018. The airport was one of only a handful of small, rural General Aviation airports to receive funds for this shovel ready program under the Act.
The improvements will bring the taxiway into compliance with current FAA regulations and improve access to both runways and to hangars on the field.
The airport has approximately 18 businesses that employ 200-250 local residents.
Construction of the Rose-Wood Completions began in 2018 and was completed in early 2019, bringing 15 to 20 jobs to the field.
A few airport operators reported that their businesses have slowed over the winter months, but orders are picking up and operators expect the pace to continue upward.
Companies at the airport service several Army, Navy, and Air Force military contracts in addition to General Aviation aircraft, which helps to support good paying jobs with benefits for our area.
The airport is by-in-large self-supporting regarding day-to-day operating expenses and receives only a small sales tax disbursement from the state. A recent study commissioned by the ADA, shows the airport has a first-round economic impact of almost $30 million to the region and a second-round impact of just over $18 million for a total economic impact of almost $48 million.
A total of 118 incidents were logged by the Mena Fire Department last year compared to 125 in 2018. They responded to 53 fire related calls; 16 first responder and rescue calls; and 17 required stand-by assistance calls at the airport compared to 7 calls in 2018.
Fire Station No. 1 on DeQueen Street received a much-needed update. Two restrooms were completely remodeled, some windows replaced, and new furniture purchased for the day room.
In cooperation with Polk County and the Western Arkansas Fire & Rescue Association a turnout washer/extractor was purchased and installed to enhance the health and safety of our firefighters as well as all county firefighters.
Narcan Overdose Kits for the Police & Fire Departments were purchased with a $1,000 grant award from the Blue & You Foundation.
Two portable generators and a pressure washer were purchased with funds received from a $2,000 Wal-Mart grant.
20 business inspections were completed during the year
7 pre-fire plans were conducted
15 Fire Safety programs were presented to the community
9 smoke alarm installations
Certified pump testing and maintenance of the Fire Department fleet was completed
Training is a very important part of their job for the members on the Mena Fire Department. Completed last year included the following:
868 hours of certified training from the Arkansas Fire Academy, the Arkansas Forestry Commission, and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management
1,302 hours of in-house training
Our City parks are a great asset for Mena and are widely used by the entire community for such events as family reunions, birthday parties, weddings, Lum & Abner Festival, Relay for Life, and the Christmas Festival & Fireworks. Updates to the City Parks system in 2019 included:
Janssen Park ponds were drained and cleaned.
Several picnic tables and benches in Janssen Park and McMillan Park were painted and refurbished.
The Janssen Park Gazebo was reroofed.
Five new figurines were added to the Christmas light display and all trees now have LED lights
Janssen Park received a new basketball court and goals courtesy of a $10,000 grant from Arvest Bank.
The City entered into a lease agreement with the University of Arkansas at Rich Mountain for future development of baseball and softball fields at McMillan Park to include $2 million in upgrades.
Ben Vincent was hired as a new full-time employee.
Reservations for the year included:
Janssen Park Pavilion ----- 53
Janssen Park Gazebo ---- 6
Janssen Park Bridge ---- 2
Janssen Park Cabin ---- 3
McMillan Park Pavilion -- 56
Officers of the Mena Police Department completed 2,174 incident reports last year compared to 1,268 reports in 2018. They made 1,247 arrests in 2019 compared to 413 in 2018 and worked 260 accidents in 2019 compared to 308 accidents in 2018.
In January 2019 Tommy Stueart was appointed as Chief of Police.
Sergeant Tod Cannon was promoted to the position of Assistant Chief.
Officers Mike Wolf and Ronnie Richardson were promoted to Sergeant positions.
Three full-time officers were hired last year:
Eddie Price was recruited from the Grannis Police Department; Alan Walker was hired from the Mena Reserve Officer Program, and Jacob Cain was hired from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office.
Three new officers, Caleb Payton, Tyler Richardson, and Mike Underwood were included in the Reserve Program.
A new 2019 Dodge Charger was added to the police department fleet last year.
- Animal Control -
The City of Mena Animal Control Department answered 1,347 calls for service in 2019 and 200 animals were picked up.
98 City pet licenses were issued last year
78 dogs & cats were adopted out locally & 87 dogs transported to other areas
33 animals were returned to their owners
approximately 1,510 hours from community service workers were utilized in the Animal Control Department
6 additional kennel areas and runs were constructed last year
A new office/storage space was purchased for the Animal Control facility in 2019.
MENA REGIONAL HEALTH SYSTEM
Total Inpatient Days – 8,245
Births – 280
Emergency Department Visits – 9,069
Total Clinic Visits – 24,951
Total Number of Employees (full, part and PRN) – 342
Salaries, Wages, & Benefits Paid – 18.5 million
Net Revenue – 29.3 million
Growth and Accomplishments
• Designated as Licensed Rural Healthcare Clinic (RHC)
• Initiated Mountain View Clinic Merge, due to be complete
June 28, 2020
• Recruited (2) Physical Therapists, (1) Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant and (1) Physical Therapy Assistant to Ouachita Rehabilitation Center
• Celebrated 25th Anniversary of Mena Senior Behavioral Health
• Met requirements for certification under Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA)
• Opened Mena Specialty Clinic, currently housing dermatology, urology and cardiology
• Welcomed Dr. Patrick Fox and Kristen Mack, APRN to the family of health care providers at MMA
• Six Emergency Department Registered Nurses received an Award of Excellence from AR Saves for outstanding performance
• Nutritional Services implemented Take and Bake meals for employees and community
STREETS AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Improvement Projects completed by the Street Department during 2019 included:
Sprayed vegetation and undergrowth along Ward Creek and drainage ditches adjacent to Highway 71 and Morrow Street for mosquito control and flood prevention.
308 loads of debris were picked up during the Annual Spring Clean-Up which was a huge success last year due to the efforts of community volunteers resulting in the largest Spring Clean-Up ever.
75 loads of brush and limbs were hauled in the Annual Fall Clean-Up.
6 large culverts were installed on Industrial Park Road.
Various sections of sidewalks throughout the City were replaced or repaired and several ADA ramps installed at a cost of $50,000.
We were not able to carry out our overlay program last year due to illness of the contractor but should be back on schedule for this year.
Started a major makeover of North Reine Street in preparation for the 2020 overlay program
A 2019 John Deere 50 G Excavator, a 2019 John Deere 330 G Skid Steer, 2 dump trucks, and a brush cutter were purchased for the department last year.
Brad House was added as a new employee in April of 2019.
WATER AND SEWER
During 2019, Mena Water Utilities replaced 5 water hydrants; installed 19 new water services; and replaced or repaired 113 water services. Additionally, 25 repairs were made to sections of water lines. There were 4 new sewer services installed; 16 sewer services replaced or repaired; and 8 repairs to sewer lines.
The Arkansas Department of Health requires that lead and copper levels in the drinking water be tested in older homes once every 3 years. Levels were tested in 30 homes around Mena in 2019. Levels continued to be negligible.
I’m very proud of our City – we have a diversified economic base with lots of opportunity for expansion. We also have lots of friendly people who are willing to work together to move Mena forward.
Numerous accomplishments were made in our City during 2019 and I anticipate 2020 as being the same.
Thank you to all the citizens of Mena, to all elected officials, City employees and volunteer boards and commissions. Because of your hard work and dedication, Mena is the BEST place to live!
3-11-20 4:22 p.m. KAWX.ORG