At the Monday night meeting of the Lonoke City Council, middle school students Weston Wicker and Kaleb Poe presented the council with information and suggested on how to improve safety for students walking in school zoned areas.
Wicker and Poe both attend Lonoke Middle School.
According to the students, an estimated 150 students at Lonoke walk home or to a parked car after school. Providing statistics from safekids.org the students said of 39,000 middle school and high school students observed in a school zone, 44 percent were on headphones, 31 percent were texting while walking, and unsafe street crossing behavior was observed in 80 percent of students. The duo also said, according to safekids.org, in 2015 284 students ages 12-19 were killed while walking.
Suggestions made by the students, were to install one way signs, paint the word school with reflectors on two roadways and to install solar powered LED stop signs. For the one way signs, it was suggested they be located at the intersection of College and West Holly Street and at the intersection of Locust and College street. They said reflectors and the painted word school, should be added to the road on West Palm Street between College and Jefferson Street, and on West Academy, between Lincoln and Washington Street. As for the LED signs, the students said the first priority would be to have two signs placed at the main four way intersection on West Palm and Lincoln street. Their second priority would be to have a stop sign placed at the intersection at Collect and West Academy Street. The final LED sign priority, would be to place a sign at the intersection of West Palm and College Street. The Solar Powered LED signs are estimated to cost $1,475-$1,750 each, depending on the brand purchased.
Concluding their presentation, the students listed three priorities for the council to consider. Those essential items were to install two LED solar powered stop signs at West Palm at the main four way intersection, paint school and add reflectors to the road on West Palm and West Academy Street and to update or clean the existing one way, school son and crosswalk signs in the school zone.
“Gentlemen, we appreciate y’all coming,”Mayor Wayne McGee said. “No one knows more than y’all, coming from school everyday.”
Later in the meeting, McGee announced that the city has received two grants for both side walks and a walking trail. He said there will be new sidewalks installed in parts of the school zone area metioned, which will also help with insuring the safety of the students walking. He said the city received a $159,000 80/20 grant for new sidewalks, which will be used to install sidewalks from Academy to South Center, from the Presbyterian church to Palm Street and then on College Street from U.S. Highway 70 to Palm Street.
The $65,000 grant received for the walking trail will be used to overlay the current trail and to finish the walking trail north behing Farm Bureau. By unaimous vote, the council authorize the mayor to move forward with both grants.
Also during the comments portion of the meeting, Leslie Bendar with TechStream internet provider spoke with the council about investing in the Lonoke Community. She said after attending a Lonoke Chamber meeting, she fell in love with the town and is now looking to relocate to Lonoke. Bendar said as a personal mission, she would like to offer the city free LTE service to one location, in exchange for the city allowing TechStream to place an antenna onto the water tower. While Bendar said the city could utilize the service at any location, she suggested using the service in a public area and offer free wifi to the citizens of Lonoke.
While no official motion was made, the council and mayor said they are interested in discussing the proposal further.
In other business, the council unanimously voted to approved the distribution of tax collections for 2016 and collected in 2017, as its. The millage will remain the same at .0054 mills. The majority, .0050 mills will be used toward the general millage fund and the remaining .0004 mills collected will go to the local firemen’s pension fund.
Also during the meeting, the council unanimously vote to:
- Authorize the K-13 insulation purchase for the Community Center for $15,306 from Oak Brothers, Inc. of Greenbrier.
- Approve the replacement of the Community Center’s pool chemical controller for $3,706.85 from Clarity Pools of Little Rock.
- By resolution, request the Democratic and Republican County Committee of Lonoke to conduct party primaries for the municipal offices up for the election in Lonoke, for the year 2018.
- By resolution, authorize Mayor Wayne McGee to submit a grant application for the renovation of the Lonoke Senior Citizen Center.
- Authorize the Police Department’s commissary price list as presented.
- Accept the third quarter financial numbers.
- Purchase a 75 hp John Deer tractor from Federal Surplus for $2,755 for the parks department.
- Table the purchase of storm windows for the depot until additional bids can be gathered.
- Approve the purchase of accidental death and dismemberment insurance from the Arkansas Municipal League for $1,860.
- Spend up to $1,200 for photography for the city’s magazine advertisement.
- Remove the property at 504 England Street from the watch list.
- Add the property at 104 Willow Loop to the watch list.
- Authorize the city to tear down the structure located at 509 Reynolds, with permission of the owner.
- Spend up to $10,000 for light repair at the interstate.
- Purchase six foot chain link fencing to put around the new pump station for $2,315 from B&S Fencing of Lonoke
- Authorize the city to put the replacement a foot sewer main out for bids
- Authorize the purchase and installation of a new pump panel, steel enclosure and four new floats for the water treatment plant, for $3,835 from Calibration and Controls Inc. of Benton
- Select three slogans for the city billboard sign, as part of the city’s branding and marketing campaign.
The next Lonoke City Council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Dec. 11 in the court room at city hall.