The council heard from city attorney Erin Hunter about contact the city had from Omega Rail Management, the group that operates the De Queen Eastern Railroad through the city. She reported that the group was demanding the city provide extensive documentation of required insurance, as well as things the city is not required to have, before releasing the right of way documents the city needs before replacing the sewage line running under the rail line.
She pointed out that the email contact was rather rudely worded, and that the city has already paid tens of thousands of dollars for the right of way, as well as previously providing the documents requested. Hunter stated that she would monitor contact between the city and Omega Rail Management, and would intervene if necessary.
The council also heard numerous complaints about the cleanup process after the laying of water lines, exacerbated by recent rains. Residents mentioned poor compaction of soil to cover the lines, as well as damage to culverts and other buried items.
A third item relating to the projects was the apparent placement of a culvert on the state right of way along a highway, which Mayor Danny Ruth reported. He stated that he had been contacted by the state about the requirement of a permit, and a refundable permit fee, for the placement of a culvert there.
The council spoke about the issue, and decided that as placing the culvert was something the contractor had done without consulting with the city, they would require the contractor to pay the fee for the permit rather than paying for it themselves.
Other items heard by the council included:
• A request to place a outdoor ashtray at the city hall to reduce littering, which was approved.
• A request to add solar lighting at the city park near the restrooms, which was deferred to the city’s park commission.
• A report that the city’s storm sirens were damaged by lightning in recent storms, and repairs would take approximately two weeks.
• A request by Ruth to replace a two-way radio at the cost of $488, which was approved.
• A request to repair hydraulic attachments on a tractor borrowed from the county, at a cost estimated around $700, which was approved.
• A report by Sheila Ruth, the city park director, about her investigation into avenues for improving the park, noting that grants were available but mostly for new construction, not repairs. She also reported that the park is seeing increased use from previous years.