The uptick in state COVID cases has stopped the short-lived return to twice-monthly city council meetings in Newport.

According to information made available by the office of city clerk/treasurer Deborah Hembrey, the city council voted at its July 6 meeting to revert to monthly meetings. It had perviously voted at its June 1 meeting to resume twice-monthly meetings on the first and third Mondays of the month, starting in July.

It also voted to spend $34,347 to repair the traffic light at Third and Walnut Street. Newport Mayor David Stewart told the council he had received several calls requesting the light be repaired. The vote followed an observation by Stewart that the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) advised him in February that the light was not needed. He added ARDOT had more recently told him that it would not oppose repair of the light. He added, however, that ARDOT would not provide funds for the repair.

The council enacted an ordinance to waive competitive bidding to authorize the purchase of 5,012 feet of 8-inch SDR35 PVC pipe at a total cost of $35,646.60 from Core and Main. The vote came after Mayor Stewart informed the board that Wastewater Treatment Superintendent Martin Steward had learned in May that the pipe would increase in price by 25 percent in the very near future. Steward had thereupon acted on his own initiative to buy the pipe; the council therefore adopted the ordinance with an emergency clause, giving it immediate effect. The pipe is to be used for the rehabilitation of pipe installed in 1908 in the oldest part of town.

And because section 14-42-107 of the Arkansas Code, Annotated requires an ordinance to allow any alderman, council member, official or municipal employee to furnish supplies, equipment or services to the city, the council enacted three such ordinances. The ordinances permit airport commissioners Mark Ellis and Andrew Jones, and Hembrey’s husband Rickey Hembrey, to conduct such business.

The council also heard that the city’s Advertising and Promotion Commission has approved projects including new bleachers and a new score board at George Kell Park, downtown events, and Joe and Helen Harris Foundation projects using the funds from the city’s A&P Tax.

The council voted to add June 19 – Juneteenth – to its list of observed holidays in its Policies and Procedures manual. The move followed an observation by Mayor Stewart that President Biden signed into law on June 17 the new Juneteenth federal holiday.

The holiday commemorates the day of the week in June 1865 during which federal officials announced the end of slavery in the Confederate states.

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