CLINTON — The Clinton City Council reviewed and approved bids for the wireless water meter system at its regular meeting Thursday, May 14. The council also reviewed reopening plans, and the City Hall move onto the courthouse square, as well as hearing reports from department heads.

The Clinton Water and Sewer Department reports was presented by that department’s manager, Will Hinchey.

Hinchey provided figures initially presented at the Water Board meeting the previous Tuesday, which showed the department’s usages had gone up in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. In turn this reflected higher revenue for the department since its earlier rate change. To date the department had sold an additional 10 million gallons of water resulting in $140,000 increase in water revenue for 2020 compared to 2019. Sewer use also increased, adding $67,000 compared to 2019 revenue, Hinchey said.

The department is currently at a 36 percent water loss rate, Hinchey said.

Water Board head Mickey Parrish was not able to attend the council meeting and will present a full review at the council’s June meeting, City of Clinton Mayor Richard McCormac said.

Under new business, the council heard from CWB Engineers in Heber Springs regarding bids received for the planned move to the wireless water meter system. Bids included $135,842 for the construction project, that bid by M&E Construction which specializes in utility projects.

Water meters lowest bid was $829,470. The meters include a 5 year cell fee which assures 98.7 percent readability of all meters. Councilman Shon Hasting asked about cell readability issues. Community Water, serving Heber Springs, had the same system and having installed 7,000 meters was able to read all but 178, the council was told.

Three immediate capital improvement projects for the water department to meet its 10 year plan are the upgrade to the Pole Yard Pump Station, which the council was told was a “shovel ready” project, as well as backwash at the water treatment plant and to repairs required to the water tank located near Ozark Health.

The backwash project was dependent on bonds, which, Councilman Tim Barnes reminded was not a good market right now due to its higher-than-average interest rates.

Bond projects would await preferable rates, the council was told.

The initial reopening of city parks was discussed. Parks department head Charles Wilson said sanitizer was expected in that Friday, May 15, and would be used as appropriate. The council and Wilson discussed the need for sanitizing public spaces such as restrooms.

A final plan was to try to sanitize three times a day, morning, noon and evening, but to also have a sign up cautioning that spaces would be sanitized as time and resources permit. This would follow what was being done at Federal Park facilities, the council was told.

The Kiddie Park would remain closed pending the installation of signage as would the campgrounds, the latter with a target date of May 20 to allow camping. The basketball courts were also closed and the nets had been taken down, Wilson told the council.

Fishing would be permitted at the pond in Archey Park.

Archey Fest was being planned, but in a limited fashion. Wilson said the carnival, with its congregating, would not be in place this year. He told the council he had discussed the fishing derby with Game and Fish which amounted to allowing 75 families around the pond. Spaces for the families would be staked off in order to maintain appropriate separation, Wilson told the council.

City Hall was in a temporary location in the former Van Buren County Democrat building on the courthouse square, the council was told. A short-term lease was signed for that building pending the city’s ultimate move to the Tomlinson building, which required renovations to its heat and air, electricity and insulation, McCormac told the council.

The city was prepared to take bids for the work and prices would be presented at the June council meeting, McCormac said.

In other council matters:

Fire Department Chief D.L. Webb said the department had gloves and protective gear on hand, and had applied for a grant through Senator Boozeman’s office for additional equipment, including sanitizer spray-foggers. An additional request was made for equipment to sanitized masks and gowns. The department does have spay sanitizer for use in public areas such as the parks, Webb said.

Police Chief John Willoughby said his deparment had begun ramping up speed enforcement on Highway 65. “We’re slowing them down again,” Willoughby said.

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