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Choir Happening A Success

One hundred and thirty students from the White Hall High School Choir program took the stage Saturday night at the Pine Bouff Convention Center to present the 2014 Choir Happening: “Heroes and Villains.”

Taylor SOTM

G.R. Taylor Elementary School's students of the month of January include (front row, from left) Brady Peyton, Rodney Butler, Rylie Frieri, Nate Boyce, (second row, from left) Taryn South, Jonathan Qualls, Laurel Henderson, Jarred Ballew, Ashley Pennington, (third row, from left) Lauren Casada, Paige Wyatt, Kate McAlister, Josh Bridges, Ramiro Corpulis, Timber Hendricks, (top row, from left) Erin Jones, Kennedy Canada and Heaven Davis.

Drainage work gets OK

Drainage work performed in a White Hall residential subdivision under a state grant passed its final inspection last Wednesday, said Wanda Madera, planner for the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District. The work was designed to limit flooding damage in the Whitefield Subdivision at the city's northeast edge. Some property sustained damage from flooding in 2008, Mayor Noel Foster said during a public hearing before the Jan. 22 White Hall City Council meeting. Aldermen approved a proposed ordinance to retire two existing utility revenue bonds issues totaling $2.54 million with proceeds from a new bond issue with a lower interest rate at the council meeting. Foster said the refunding issue should save the municipality $129,000 over the next 15 years because of lower interest rates for tax-exempt municipal securities. The 2013 water and sewer bond issue will be retired over the same time period as the 1999 issue with an interest rate of 3.25 percent and 2007 issue with an interest rate of 4.28 percent. However, the interest on the refunding issue, which will be purchased by Crews and Associates Inc. of Little Rock, is 2.6 percent. Foster said the new issue will close March 5. In other business, aldermen approved amendments to the 2012 municipal budget. The 2013 budget was adopted last month. Foster delivered his third State of the City address and presented Jay Tucker a proclamation citing his 20 years' service on the White Hall Planning Commission. Tucker has been named to the municipal Finance Committee. The council also approved membership of four standing committees: Finance; Street, Water and Sewer; Fire, Police, Park, Ordinance and Personnel; and Museum.

Redfield council meets to discuss options on school

REDFIELD — Three members of the Redfield City Council called a special council meeting Tuesday evening to examine the city's role in keeping Redfield Middle School open, including the use of municipal funds for any legal action. Glen Flemmons, freshman Ward 1 alderman, said he initiated the call for the meeting. "I feel like we are running out of time," he explained. He was joined by a second freshman alderman, Larry O'Briant, Ward 2 representative, and Darrell Hedden in the call, which requires three of the six council members to initiate the action. Representatives of the Keep Redfield Middle School Task Force asked Redfield residents Jan. 17 for support and direction on keeping the school open. The White Hall School Board voted 4-2 Jan. 8 to close the Redfield school at the end of the current school year. Todd Dobbins, chairman of the task force, and others detailed the options available to Redfield patrons during the Jan. 17 meeting at the American Legion Post 343. Flemmons and Hedden indicated they are not sure if the municipality has a "legal standing" in the school board's decision. O'Briant was not immediately available for comment. "The task force has done a great job and didn't know what to do," Flemmons added. Hedden said he was disappointed the task force did not hire an attorney early in the quest to keep the middle school open. A plan of action is also a requirement and emotions can't overrule legal and political action, he said. Hedden said he agreed to sign the call for the meeting because "I want to see what options the city has" before Redfield students are bused to White Hall Middle School. He told the Redfield council Jan. 15 that if the middle school is closed, the community expects the White Hall district to turn the building over to the municipality for use by local residents "with no strings attached." If the White Hall board fails to comply, Hedden added, he would ask the council to adopt an ordinance declaring the structure a nuisance and order the district to demolish the structure, constructed in 1939. The options studied by the task force include establishing an open-enrollment charter school; home schooling; and seeking state authorization for the former Redfield School District to withdraw from the 1950 merger with the White Hall district. Opening a charter school and seeking a court order to reverse the closure of the Redfield school would prove costly and time-consuming, Dobbins has warned residents at a public meeting. "The White Hall School Board will put up a fight," Dobbins added. Facts were misrepresented to both White Hall and Redfield school patrons in recent years in an orchestrated plan to close the middle school and eventually Hardin Elementary School in Redfield, Dobbins contends. The annual potential savings on personnel and operating costs by closing Redfield Middle School range from $382,000 to $412,000, White Hall School District Superintendent Larry Smith has estimated. The district faces a number of economic issues, so the projected savings have increased in importance, he said. The White Hall district has lost more than $1 million in state funding in the past six years because of declining enrollment, part of the basis for Smith's recommendation.