The Walnut Ridge City Council repealed an outdated ordinance and approved a new ordinance regarding the use of firearms and airguns in the city limits at its meeting on Monday night.
According to Mayor Charles Snapp, some questions about the existing ordinance led to a review that showed the ordinance, which was implemented in 1949, to be out of date, especially regarding fine amounts of $1 to $5 for offenses.
Council members voted to repeal the old ordinance and replace it with a new one that restricts the discharge of firearms and airguns within the city limits. New penalties were set at fine of not less than $100 and not more than $950 and up to 10 days in jail at the discretion of the court.
Two exceptions to the law were considered, one being for the Walnut Ridge High School shooting sports program and one being for pest control.
WRHS Principal Jacob Kersey said the school would like to develop a shooting range near the new baseball and softball complex if an exception could be granted for school-related activities.
In addition, resident Taylor Harbin spoke about the use of airguns for pest control, specifically in relation to protecting purple martins from being attacked by other birds.
In speaking with the council, Harbin noted that permit system might be the best way to allow the use for pest control.
Mayor Snapp seemed to agree noting that simply making an exception in the ordinance might leave it too open.
“When you consider legislation, it’s for everyone,” he said.
The council voted to adopt the ordinance that allowed an exemption for Walnut Ridge High School shooting sports, but not for pest control. Council Member Whit Watson voted against the ordinance.
Council members Watson, Jon Walter and Ty Callahan agreed to work with Harbin and Chief of Police Jordan Cooksey to look into the possibility of offering permits for pest control and bring the information back to the council.
Also on Monday, the council voted to authorize Snapp to move forward with the Walnut Ridge Airport Commission on the potential sale of a building and acreage to CF-Steele of North Carolina.
The industry would lease the building while work is being done to complete the sale. The property, located at the end of Fulbright Avenue has to be released by the FAA in order to be sold.
Snapp said the process of getting the property released could take approximately two years. If CF-Steele is able to purchase the building and 3.82 acres, the company is also interested in another 2.5 acres that adjoins the property that has already been released by the FAA.
Snapp noted that the development of Highway 412 by the Arkansas Department of Transportation was a key factor in Walnut Ridge being considered as a location for the new industry.
In other business:
The council heard an update on asphalt bids and planned work on street overlays. Asphalt Producers, Inc. was the low bid, and Snapp said the work scheduled should come in at or below the $350,000 earmarked.
Council members approved a resolution for a conservation easement for the airport to be able to apply for a grant for WWII Hanger 29.
City Attorney Ethan Weeks reported that he has been in communication with the attorney for J.R. and Michelle Rogers regarding money owed to the city for demolition and cleanup of their building on Abbey Road. Weeks said by next month’s meeting the council should have a settlement to consider or discovery for a trial should be underway.
Snapp gave an update on progress on work at Stewart Park, and Council Member Bryan Butts announced that the fishing derby would be held this year with the date set for June 5.