Solar-powered streetlights were among the topics on the table for the Ward City Council meeting Monday evening. Council members also heard that construction of the long-discussed traffic circle at the junction of Hickory Street with Arkansas Highways 367 and 319, and Griffin Street could begin in February.

Mayor Art Brooke and aldermen Bill Moon, Lee Schoonover, Jeff Shaver and Charles Gastineau attended the meeting. Don Howard and John Staley were absent.

Brooke announced that funding for the planned roundabout is nearly settled, and that Metroplan, which would be involved for the use of federal funds, "Is ready to go with [the roundabout]."

Brooke said that a combination of Local Urbanized Attributed (LUZA) funds and a loan from the infrastructure bank could meet the estimated $500,000 cost of the project.

LUZA funds are federal funds made available for local transportation projects.

Using LUZA funds available to Ward would leave a balance of about $375,000 that could be met with a loan from the infrastructure bank, which is made at a zero interest rate.

Projected local funds for Ward from the recently approved Highway Improvement Bond, would be able to meet the payments, Brooke said. The projected local funds, based on population, would be about $75,000, he said.

The council voted to approve continuing with the project.

City engineer Tim Lemons said the approval could lead to work on the roundabout beginning in late February.

An offer from a telecommunications firm to pay the city $175 a month to allow an antenna to be installed on the new million-gallon Stagecoach water tank was declined by the council. The decision was based on the recommendation of city utilities manager Mike Sipe.

Sipe said increased upkeep that the antenna would create outweighed the amount the city would be paid.

Past experience with damage caused by cables, and the corrosion caused by dissimilar metals discourages mounting an antenna to the tank, Sipe said.

In other discussions, Brooke said he is speaking with a representative of a company that produces solar-powered streetlights, about installing the lights in the Deerfield area. The battery packs for the lights are supposed to be good for 15 to 20 years, Brooke said.

Going to the solar-powered lights would save the city about $30,000 annually, Brooke said.

The talks are preliminary and there has not been a cost estimate yet, but the project could be covered by an energy efficiency grant, Brooke said.

Brooke remarked that this would be the last meeting for Staley as an alderman. Staley did not run for re-election; he was elected Lonoke County Sheriff.

Planning commission chairman Gary Meadows said there was no commission business to present, however he notified the council that he would be meeting with a commissioner to ask for the commissioner’s resignation.

Meadows said the commissioner, who he did not name pending the meeting, had not been attending the requisite number of meetings.

Gastineau asked if planning commission members had to be a resident of the city.

Meadows said there were provisions to allow a non-resident to be a commissioner, but would not be able to vote on all actions.

"It is just cleaner if they live in the city. So we just made it a practice that [commissioners] live in the city," Meadows said.