City council supports bid for veterans home

Pine Bluff’s City Council on Monday night expressed its support for a city effort to bring the new Arkansas Veterans Home to the city.

Mayor Debe Hollingsworth had noted that should the veterans facility be located in Pine Bluff, the city’s economy would be pumped with an investment of up to $25 million and the creation of up to 300 “higher-paying” jobs.

Alderman Charles Boyd, who co-sponsored the support resolution, was absent, but the remaining council members — co-sponsor Alderman Steven Mays, Aldermen Glen Brown, Bill Brumett, Wayne Easterly, Lloyd Holcomb Jr. and George Stepps and Alderwoman Thelma Walker — were on hand to give the measure a unanimous nod.

The resolution pledges “the cooperation of the city government” in the endeavor.

Stepps told Hollingsworth that he would like to see the entire body sign the legislation as co-sponsors. His counterparts agreed.

In other business, the council unanimously endorsed two ordinances and a second resolution.

The ordinances:

• Amended previous law regarding payment by labor of fines assessed for misdemeanor convictions and/or code violations; and

• Waived competitive bidding and authorized the mayor to contract with Reynolds Construction Company of White Hall on improvements to the roof of the historic Saenger Theatre, for a consideration of approximately $35,950 ($23,967 from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, $3,994 from Old Town Theater Centre and $7,989 in city matching funds).

The remaining resolution declared certain houses, buildings and/or structures as nuisances and ordered their abatement.

Five proposed ordinances received second readings. They call for:

• Amending current ordinances regarding the annual sum paid by grantees of permits to operate community antenna televisions within the city;

• Prohibiting unlawful discarding and dumping of solid waste while promoting increased surveillance of known dump sites;

• Prescribing penalties for landlords who rent or lease substandard dwelling units;

• Amending current law to clarify the authority of the city council regarding cost of living increases for the local firemen’s pension fund; and

• Providing for the rezoning of 2.93 acres of property east of South Olive Street and north of Ridgway Road as B-3 commercial.