Mayor Darrell Trahan administered the oath of office to three commissioners at Monday night’s Huntsville City Council meeting.
Brad Willis will serve his first term on the Huntsville Planning Commission, replacing Brianna Watkins, whose term expired in December. Willis is a graduate of Huntsville High School, returning to Huntsville after serving in the Army and working out of state.
Don Smith was re-appointed to the Huntsville Parks Commission, and Bill Mason was sworn in for another term on the Airport Commission.
Trahan told councilors that Economic Development Director Nancy Marsh resigned, and he appointed Brandi Holt to fill that position. She will be installed at the February meeting.
In other business, Steven Grady, an attorney from Harrison, spoke to the council on behalf of Terry Thomas, who has attended council meetings asking for building code changes that would allow him to put a mobile home on his city land.
Grady read from the Arkansas Code, and pointed out that it states that cities cannot impose regulations on manufactured homes that are not imposed on other single-family dwellings. A 2019 Arkansas Code annotation provides that cities cannot regulate building design elements. City ordinances must also be identical to federal standards and state standards.
The council passed the ordinance for amending the Zoning Code to its second reading next month, but City Attorney Rusty Cain advised councilors that it would most likely have to be amended.
Anita Deshotels addressed the council about a trash problem on Madison Street, near the high school.
“There are cars parking on the street and trash piled everywhere. I feel like I live in a ghetto. I’ve been there 32 years, and never seen it as trashy as it is now,” she told the council.
Police Chief Todd Thomas told her that he can ask people to move an inoperable vehicle if it is blocking traffic, and tow it if it is not moved, but he can’t move a vehicle if it is just parked and not obstructing traffic.
Ben Soto, winner of the Economic Commission logo design contest, offered to make changes or revise his logo if councilors think that would make it more usable. They made suggestions, and he said that he would work on it.
Thomas reported that his department had a “fairly eventful” 2019. There was a 20 percent increase in 911 calls, and 89 canine deployments that resulted in fourteen felony drug arrests.
He also told the group that the canine unit vehicle was totaled in a pursuit on Jan. 3, and the insurance reimbursement estimate is $13,000 to $16,000.
The Dodge Durango police package is the least expensive, at $30,838, leaving a difference of about $15,000, which he said he will request at next month’s meeting. The department is also advertising for a new officer to replace Olen Thompson, who is joining the Elkins police department.
Street Department Director Josh Murr told the group that he has put up “Slow For Children” street signs in the Rockwood Heights addition. The council told resident Robert White at the December meeting that they would do that for the safety of children.
Murr said that Black Hills Gas company will be replacing 48,000 feet of metal lines with plastic lines in the city, starting in late January or early February.
Water Department Director Larry Garrett reported that his crew spent the last three days repairing a water line at the airport that was hit by lightning Friday night. He said a great deal of damage was done to the line.
Fire Chief Kevin Shinn commended firefighter James House, who has been repairing Engine One and Engine Two with help from other members of the department. He said that the engines are again in service with much less expense to the department.
He applauded the local businesses that have installed Knox Boxes at their businesses to allow firefighters to enter in an emergency without destruction to the building. He encouraged other businesses to install them as well.
City Clerk Janice Smith reported that the city sales tax was more than $65,000 nine of 12 months in 2019, up from the year before.
Trahan commended Murr for replacing the old handrail at City Hall with a much sturdier one.