NASHVILLE – A tumultuous month made for an oddly short and quiet meeting of the Nashville city council Tuesday evening. Discussion of the continuing cleanup efforts after the tornado which struck the city two weeks ago dominated the meeting, but many of the attendees were reserved even in that discussion.
Mayor Billy Ray Jones reported to the council about his efforts to coordinate the cleanup, beginning with his decision to contact private logging contractors before the storm had even passed to have them out cutting downed trees alongside emergency crews. He reported also the decision to hastily offer and accept bids with contracting companies for the removal of debris. Additionally, he admitted that in some cases public crews and contractors working for the city had worked on private property, something that is barred under city policy and state law, but said that when it had happened, it was either accidental or done out of need to protect city drainage systems.
Jones further reported that he expected FEMA inspectors in the next few days to look over the city’s response to the disaster, who would then decide what, if any, reimbursement the federal government would make to the city for their efforts. He claimed that the cost to the city thusfar had topped $40,000, but did not pin down an exact figure.
In Jones’s report, he noted the large number of volunteers that helped in recovery efforts, citing specifically Ashdown, Dierks and Kirby schools, Home Depot, and several local volunteer fire departments. He also noted the efforts of those from De Queen, to which council members responded with questions about what the city of Nashville had been able to do to help after that town had their own damage from storms earlier this week. Jones reported that he had been unable to contact his counterpart in De Queen as of the time of the city council meeting.
Aside from the discussion of the recent storms and resultant damage, the meeting consisted mainly of reports from city department heads. City financial director Jimmy Dale reported that the city saw revenues above expenses, an expected outcome after multiple bills were paid early last month. Interim park director Wendy Harris reported on damage to the city park from the storm, as well as the quick return to normal operations. Public works director Larry Dunaway rounded out the group by reporting that the city’s old sewage treatment plant had been taken offline that day, signalling the effective completion of the multi-year project to update the city’s sewer system.