The Walnut Ridge City Council discussed several projects that could be funded through American Recovery Plan funds, including broadband internet and drainage improvements.
Mayor Charles Snapp explained that over the next few months, the council will be considering different things that could be done if they qualify under the ARP funding requirements.
“We are putting together a wish list to see if ARP funds could be used for this,” Snapp said.
The first thing the council voted to put on the list is a fiber-optic internet system, which would be a collaboration between the city and Craighead Electric’s Empower.
“The governor has been pushing to get the speed of broadband internet up,” Snapp said.
The council voted to have Snapp consult with Stephens, Inc. and Friday Law Firm on what would need to be done to complete the project through a bond issue.
The total cost of the project would be approximately $3.2 million, and the city’s debt would be determined by how much, if any, of the ARP funds could be used toward completion of the infrastructure.
If the project is completed, the city would own the system, and Empower would provide the service, maintain the system, do the billing and pay the city a fee for using the system.
“This would put us in line to be one of the first, if not the first, in the state to be a 10G city,” Snapp said.
The council also voted to look at several drainage projects as potential ARP projects to reduce flooding on West Main Street near the Lawrence County Courthouse and Lawrence Memorial Hospital, as well as near Walnut Ridge School.
Among the proposals are improving stormwater diversion from West Main near Colonial Drive, adding underground drainage from Southeast Third Street down Free Street and adding underground drainage from West Main, under West Walnut to Village Creek.
They also discussed the possibility of widening Colonial Drive and adding a stormwater retention area for runoff along North Memorial.
All of these plans were added to the list of potential projects if they qualify for ARP funding. Snapp noted that if they qualify the projects will be developed by an engineer.
In other business:
the council approved a resolution accepting the dedication of all streets, water utilities, utilities and public improvements in the Dove Heights Addition, located on Midway Road, into the City of Walnut Ridge.
it was reported that all asphalt work and the new sanitation truck have been paid for, along with most expenses from the cleanup following the windstorm.
an update from City Attorney Ethan Weeks was read regarding the city’s lawsuit regarding the Abbey Road cleanup. Weeks reported that he had been in contact with J.R. Rogers’ attorney, and is working to set a time for depositions. If necessary, he will have the court order the depositions times be set.