In a unanimous vote, the Lonoke City Council approved the purchase and training for a new K-9 police team during its Monday meeting.
According to Police Chief Mike Wilson, several people, along with the school, have shown interest in the police department getting a k-9 police dog. He said he was also approached by Officer Doug Carter, who offered to take on the roll as a K-9 handler if the department decided to purchase a dog.
After speaking with Wilson, Carter began a door-to-door journey through the community. He raised over $7,900 in cash donations, only $50 shy of his $7,950 goal. He said this was excluding an additional $2,500 for purchase of the dog and equipment. According to Carter, the community and its businesses are very supportive of a K-9. He said Atwoods has donated a dog kennel, dog house and dog food for the remainder of the dogs life. Carter said the Lonoke Animal Hospital is willing to offer medical care labor for free and half off of medications for the dog. Pampered Pets has offered to donate their groomer services for the dog’s upkeep.
” I was amazed by how much the community stood behind the [police] department,” Carter said.
Carter and Wilson will be going to the Little Rock K-9 academy to choose a dog. According to Carter he will have the choice of five dual-purpose dogs, including one German Shepard and four Belgian Malinois ranging up to 22 months old. He said dual-purpose dogs are trained for search and rescue, fleeing, drug search and seizures.
Although Carter will be the dog handler and will keep the dog at his home, it will be owned by the city. Wilson said Carter understands that if he was to transfer to another department at any time, the dog would be paired with a new Lonoke officer. He said if the dog was paired with a new officer, both would be sent to the K-9 academy for training at an additional cost.
A typical career for a dual-purpose k-9 is 8-11 years, according to Carter.
“I think this is great,” alderman Janie Derning said. “I really do.”
After attending training, the new duo is expected to hit the streets March 15.
In other police department business, the council unanimously approved by ordinance, the purchase of three 2011 Ford Crown Victoria police vehicles for the amount of $16,000 each for a total of $48,000. Each vehicle has approximately 49,500 miles use on them.
The council also unanimously approved the department to spend up to $10,000 for equipment for the new cars.
Wilson said the department has an increase of about 20 calls compared to last year. He said this is due to an increase in shoplifting, vehicle break-ins and a few criminal arrests. Wilson said he received five calls since the last council meeting alone to Fifth Street Apartments. He said the resident causing the problems was evicted but has since relocated to Third Street Apartments. He said department has received three calls on the same individual since they moved into the apartment complex last Friday.
“The police department has better things to do than take care of one person,” Derning said.
During the month of January, the fire department received seven calls, including two structure fires, two fire alarm calls, one mutual aid and one ambulance assistance call. Fire Chief George Rich said the department also responded to a call of someone burning a mattress. He said its believed that a child was playing with a lighter, which caught the mattress on fire. The mattress was then removed from the home by the residents into the yard. According to Rich, the mattress fire was extinguished and smoke removed from the home.
Rich also said he has six firemen attending a first responders class. He said once the class is completed, there will be nine first responder certified firemen.
“If we can just save one life, from a baby to an elderly person, it will be worth it,” Rich said.
Baseball and softball registration is underway for the parks and recreation department. There will be a sign-up day open to the public on Saturday from 1 -4 p.m. in the courtroom. Parks Director Roy Don Lewis said high school baseball begins Feb. 19 and girls softball kicks off March 4. He said there are five wind strings and two temporary fences that need to be replaced before the season is in full swing. The council approved $1,438.73 to replace the wind string and temporary fence.
Lewis also said the department is in need of half a load of clay for mounds on Fields 1, 4 and 7. He said these special mounds were made 4-5 years ago, which he believes are the best mounds. He said although the parks department only needs a half a load of clay, only a full load can be delivered for the cost of $2,000. According to Lewis, the England Parks and Recreation is also in need of half a load and has agreed to split a load with Lonoke. The half of load is expected to last 4-5 years. The council unanimously approved the $1,000 purchase for half of a load of clay.
Prior to the council meeting, there was a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. to hear any comments regarding the city applying for an Arkansas Community and Economic Development Program grant on behalf of the Carver Alumni Association to construct a new multi-cultural center. During the meeting, by resolution, the council unanimously approved to authorize McGee to submit a grant application on behalf of the city and to expend grant funds for the purpose of construction a multi-cultural learning enrichment center.
The Lonoke Community Center will be receiving new equipment March 15. While the old equipment is being removed, Community Center Director Mike Brown asked that the council consider replacing the flooring in the gym area. He said the carpet has become worn and is in need of replacement. Brown presented the council with a piece of three inch recycled rubber flooring for the gym area. He said he said he took bids which ranged from $11,000-$27,000 for the new flooring. Although the lowest was $11,000 it did not include the cost of carpet glue removal from the floor. He said Central Arkansas Sports of Conway would do the turn key job for $11,650. Brown said there is a five-year warranty on the flooring. He said the new floor in the workout area and workout room will be green and black. The council unanimously approved a budget, not to exceed $13,000 to allow for the removal of the old flooring and glue, purchase and installation of the new flooding and any repairs which may need to be made to the sub-floor once the carpet is removed.
Members of the Community Center should be aware that the gym and walking track areas will be closed to the public for a minimum of five days beginning March 15.
The council also unanimously approved the purchase of a $1,200 eight gigabyte computer for the community center, the purchase of a $299 shredder and to have the shred it truck company come and removed old documents from the center.
With iron causing the discoloration in the city water, the health department has suggested the water department begin injecting a compound into the water pipes. According to Public Works Superintendent Brian Whitworth, by injecting the compound into the pipes past the filters, it will then bond to the pipes not allowing any iron build up to break-off into the water. He said by adding a sequestering agent to the water, the department will have more control of the iron levels in the water. Whitworth said this is on a trial basis to see how it works. The council unanimously approved the purchase and use of the compound for $0.37 per pound.
According to McGee and Whitworth, there are 46 manholes in need of repair. Some, but not all, of the manholes are located on Hicks, Plantation, Center, Front Street and West Pine. Since the council will have to adopt an emergency clause to spend over $20,000 for the repairs of the manholes, the council unanimously approved a budget up to $19,500 to begin making repairs to the manhole until the next meeting.
Also for the public works department, the council unanimously approved the purchase of a $18,535.84 new aerator for the ponds, the purchase of a Ford F250 4x4 four door extend-ended cab pick up in the amount of $22,054 and a bid from Danny Elmore Heating and Air Conditioning L.L.C for $4,700 to repair the the heat and air conditioning at the city shop.
While once a visual and structural nuisance, the property at 521 E. 8th Street, owned by Bank of America Loan Services has become much more visually appealing, according to McGee. McGee said the old fallen fence has now been replaced with a new privacy fence. He said not only did they replace the fence, but it is now back on the correct property and off of the neighbors land. He said there has also been a proper pool cover place over the in-ground pool.
“Everything we’ve asked them to do, is done,” said City Attorney Camille Bennett.
Bennett requested that the house be removed from the condemned property list so the bank can move forward with putting it on the market for purchase. The council voted unanimously to removed the property from the condemned list.
Lonoke resident Jeff Wolf, invited by alderman Pat Howell, came before the council to discuss issues with Fifth Street Apartments. According to Wolf, his property lies adjacent to the apartment complex. He described to the council several disturbing incidents including trash blowing onto his property, publicly intoxicated apartment residents walking the streets and even an incident involving a mother and daughter altercation where one of the females armed herself with a butcher knife. Wolf said he has made numerous phone calls to the police department on several occasions. Howell and McGee also tell the council of raw sewage running from behind the apartments onto the ground.
“It’s unbearable now,” McGee said. “There is no since in anyone living like that.”
The council unanimously voted to condemn 5th Street Apartment.
In other city business, the council unanimously voted to:
To allow 30 more days for the clean up of the condemned properties located at 519 Hamburg and 519 Reynolds.
To keep Third Street Apartments, the Mallard Point Golf Course and 302 Teresa Lane on the list of properties with issues for an additional 30 days.
To add 706 Hicks Street, 710 Hicks Street, 521 England Street, South Center/Plantation, and 513 Hicks Street to the list of properties to consider for condemnation. Adopt an ordinance for eligibility requirement for retirees from the city. Allow the city to sell select unused items owned by the city in auction . Pay all bills.
The next regular scheduled City Council meeting will be at 6 p.m. on March 11 in the court room at City Hall.