Smith to retire from city post

Janice Smith stands in city council chambers.

Huntsville City Clerk Janice Smith received a standing ovation in recognition of her 22-plus years to the city Monday after she announced to the Huntsville City Council that she will retire at the end of March.

Smith, 67, began working for the city in October of 1997. She announced her coming retirement after giving her departmental report to the council.

“I came to work for the city 22-and-a-half years ago,” Smith told the council. “It’s a decision I never regretted. It’s been my identity and my passion. While here I’ve worked under four mayors and set up the first computer. But now it’s time to hand the baton to someone else.”

Smith recommended that Katie Boyd succeed her as the city’s finance director, while Joetta Smith takes on the city clerk mantle. Janice Smith’s term as clerk – which Joetta Smith will finish – expires at the end of this year. The filing period for city offices will be this summer.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I felt like I would know when it’s time to go, and though I still have a great interest in what happens in the city, I feel like someone younger needs to take over,” Smith said after the meeting. “I had to work through the fact that being city clerk was being my identity for so many years. I felt like I was nobody if I was not in that position anymore. So I had to kind of work through that and be ready to say, ‘I’m good with that.’”

Boyd began working for the city about 3 years ago. She’ll carry on Smith’s day-to-day duties at City Hall.

“Janice has been a wonderful teacher, supervisor and friend,” Boyd said. “She has given her life to this job and will be missed greatly. She loves this city, and I know she will continue to be an asset to our community.”

Smith said she was confident in Boyd’s ability to carry the torch at the city headquarters.

“She’ll do great,” Smith said. “She’s very organized, she’s very thorough, she’s been with me long enough I think that she has a good understanding of everything that goes on. She’ll be great.”

Members of the council and Huntsville Mayor Darrell Trahan thanked her for her service to the city.

“Janice has been an absolute, tremendous asset,” Trahan said. “I promise you I would not be sitting in this chair if she were not sitting in that chair.”

In other business at Monday’s meeting:

• The council gave members of the Madison County Rodeo Board approval to move forward with plans for a street dance event during the week of the annual rodeo.

Leslie Harp with the rodeo board proposed the plans to host the event on Polk Square on Tuesday, July 21.

“I’m personally very excited about it,” Trahan said.

• Matt Gilliam approached the council to ask it to consider purchasing and maintaining the Oak Ridge Golf Course. Michelle Thomas, who co-owns the course, told The Record late last year that the family intended to move forward with selling the course as part of a land deal after no offers were made to purchase the course and the clubhouse that accompanies it.

“I’m doing this on my own accord, not as a representative of Oak Ridge,” Gilliam said. “I would hate for Huntsville to lose an attraction, an amenity, something that the school uses for its high school team, golf tournaments … as far as a family activity too, I’d hate for something to go away that, basically, we need in Huntsville.”

Gilliam proposed that the city consider purchasing the land and using it as a multi-purpose facility for the community, offering different amenities in addition to the golf course. One idea he proposed was the development of a bicycle track that connects to nearby Mitchusson Park and Huntsville Airport.

“We need attractions and activities,” Gilliam said.

The council took no action Monday regarding the matter.

• Jonathan Formanek with the See For Yourself Foundation approached the council in an attempt to gain support for his bid to sell the previous Walmart building, located on Lee Street, to the Huntsville School District.

Formanek had proposed in the past to sell the building to the district for its pending Career and Technical Education facilities, a sale he said would save the district money over building new. The district announced last month that it will move forward with building the facilities from the ground up.

“The school board has a budget of $2.7 million, and the Walmart space they require would be $1 million,” Formanek said, suggesting that the rest of the money be put toward renovating the building to fit other community needs. At Monday’s meeting, he suggested a museum, a library, and other amenities.

“It’s something I think Huntsville desperately needs: a place where everyone in Huntsville, young and old, can come together,” he said. “… Something to get rid of that vacant Walmart façade, and something to make us all proud of and say it’s a community center.”

The council did not discuss or vote on Formanek’s request.

• Trahan said in his report that the city has, over the last three years, attempted to install a crosswalk across Highway 74 near the Huntsville Middle School, but the Arkansas Department of Transportation has denied requests due to nearby intersection with Highway 412B and requirements restricting a crosswalk within a certain distance of such a turn. Trahan said the city is now hoping to install a crosswalk further down the highway, though the sidewalk will have to be made ADA-compliant.

• The council viewed logo options from artist Ben Soto.

• The council approved the reappointment of Guy Roden to the Huntsville Water Commission.

• The council heard the second reading of an ordinance amending Huntsville’s zoning code to comply with state regulations.

• The council approved a budget appropriation reflecting unanticipated costs in the purchase of two vehicles for the Huntsville Police Department, and a $560 donation made to the Huntsville Fire Department. The budget amendment results in $15,000 in expenditures to be funded by unappropriated general funds.

• The council approved a resolution declaring the city’s intent for the issuance of a water bond that will be paid from state funds to make improvements to the city’s water system, compliant with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act. The estimated cost of the project and expenses of issuing the bond is $1.2 million. The council also voted to authorize Trahan to apply for assistance from the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission for the water improvements.

•  The council approved the reappointment of Trahan, Police Chief Todd Thomas, Fire Chief Kevin Shinn, Councilor Niki Rowland, Councilor Debbie Shinn, Building Inspector Jason Polley, Street Superintendent Josh Murr, and Emergency Services Coordinator Shawn Ellis to the Huntsville Emergency Services Committee.

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