Any yard damage caused by city projects will be fixed and replaced as before, says Magnolia mayorby J.D. Bailey on 01/26/21
If your yard has morphed into a muddy mess during ongoing municipal water and sidewalk projects -- don’t worry says Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann, the damage will be fixed in due time.
“We’re going to put them back how we found them,” the mayor said on Monday when speaking of potential yard damage. “I want to assure the public that we’ll put you back like we found you -- if not better; just bear with us.”
Any yard damage comes as the city conducts multiple municipal ongoing infrastructure projects during the cold, rainy, wet season that is not at all ideal for preserving soft grassy areas and yards. Currently, A.L. Franks Engineering of Texarkana is overseeing a major water line main replacement project throughout much of the central and western portions of Magnolia. The project, which began work last year, will retrofit much of the city with new, non-corrosive water pipes, thus eliminating any discoloration issues in the water system that were first reported in 2019.
The $2.3 million water project, which was approved by the Magnolia City Council last summer, is expected to complete work by the end of 2021, according to Andy Franks, owner of A.L. Franks Engineering. The primary areas of focus include the vicinity of Lawton Circle, Highland Circle, Hazel, Joy, Partee, Monzingo, Calhoun, West Main, Kelso, North Height, Virginia, Ross, Doris, Clay, Pecan, and parts of South Madison, South Washington, and South Jefferson.
To add to current work, a sidewalk project on Columbia Street is also ongoing, which could also damage residents’ yards.
“Wintertime is not the best time to dig into the ground, but it is what it is,” said Franks while updating the city council Monday on local projects. “Winter is not ideal. You usually tear up more than you can fix [at the time]. Before spring, what’s torn up now will be fixed and mowed.”
Any complaints about yard damage should be reported to forwarded to the engineering company, according to Franks.
“Let us know,” he said. “We will address them as they come in.”
The mayor wished that infrastructure projects could be completed without any conveniences to local citizens, but that simply isn’t the case in all scenarios.
“We love infrastructure, but we hate the pains that come with it,” said Vann.
Aside from the water line project, Franks is also overseeing a water well project on behalf of the city. On Monday, he introduced a bid for the replacement of the city’s Well 12, which is currently out of use.
The sole bidder for the project was Pender Water Wells of Texarkana. The bid, which was ultimately approved unanimously on Monday by the city council, came in at $207,800.
The well project will be mostly funded through a $200,000 Arkansas Economic Development Council municipal water grant.
The well has not been up-and-running for “several” years, according to Vann. Upon the new construction of Well 12, the city will be able to operate a total of four wells sourced by the Sparta Sand Aquifer. The plan going forward, according to the mayor, will include shutting down the city’s water wells during the cooler months and use Lake Columbia as the primary water source for Magnolia and surrounding communities during that time.
“We’re on lake water right now,” said Vann. “They’re making really good water. We’re going along with the [Arkansas] Health Department. It’s going good.”
In other City Council News:
Pete Parks of Parks & Company PLC was unanimously approved as the new water and wastewater auditor for Magnolia Utilities. The El Dorado-based CPA was one of three bidders to submit a proposal to the city. Parks’ bid at $17,000 annually was the lowest bid, according to City Treasurer Kim Newell. The new contract is for three years. The other bidders were accounting firms based in El Dorado and Texarkana. Parks will replace Robert Edstrom, a Magnolia-based CPA as the city’s water auditor. Edstrom had performed the audit duties for a number of years, including for the most recent audit of Magnolia Utilities. He notified the city last year that he no longer wished to perform the audit duties, according to Newell.
Neca Pharr was unanimously approved as a new member of the Magnolia Planning Commission. Pharr will replace Leslie Kent on the panel responsible for hearing local zoning issues. Current commissioners Zachary Talley and Mary Iverson were also re-appointed Monday to the city board.
The city council unanimously approved the 2021 personnel policy for city workers. There are no changes to the policy, according to Vann.
The city renewed its contract with the Magnolia-based Sponsors Non-Profit Inc. to handle local community service duties. The approval vote was unanimous among the Magnolia City Council. The local nonprofit is headed by current Magnolia Alderman James Jefferson. The organization’s duties include trash pickup around the city.
Shakamree Roy, the new acting Magnolia City Clerk, was introduced by Mayor Parnell Vann in what was her first Magnolia City Council meeting on Monday. The young Southern Arkansas University student is the first elected city clerk since Rachel Waller, the former clerk, vacated the position after she was elected Columbia County Tax Collector in 2018. The position was formerly held by a series of unelected interims. The city clerk is responsible for city record-keeping, calling the roll for present city council members and tallying any potential votes, as well as other city duties. She also publicly recites the text for any city resolutions during council meetings. Roy is the daughter of Shamekia Roy, according to Vann.