Hope City Board

The Hope City Board met Tuesday via Zoom. The board’s first item of business was choosing a construction company for the city’s Class IV landfill. The low bid was$190,450 from Marsau Enterprises of Enid, Oklahoma. The board accepted that bid. Because it the bid was so good the city will not have to borrow any funds for the project.

The board considered a waive-bid ordinance on some work for the city’s rail spur. The spur has had some serious problems recently on a portion of the spur which recently was the site of a derailment. This portion saw minor work as part of a recent rehab project to the spur. The board has received an estimated price of approximately $68,000 to fix and stabilize this portion of the spur. This problem is in a curve near the Georgia Pacific facility in the industrial park at Oakhaven. The funding will come from the per railcar fees collected from the industries that use it. The board approved this waive-bid ordinance.

The board looked at a life insurance issue for city employees. Full-time city employees have a life insurance policy equal to the their annual salary. An employee who recently passed away had a policy which would pay $35,000; however, the employee made $56,538 annually. This was apparently the city’s fault. City Manager Catherine Cook asked the board to make up the $21,538 difference. Discussion ensued on how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The board voted to make up the difference on the insurance payment.

Under the City Manager’s Report, Catherine Cook gave an update on projects and how the city employees are continuing to follow state COVID-19 guidelines. She said the state doesn’t think the ball fields should be opened but that the rodeo arena might be opened soon. She also said a larger event at the swine barn set for mid May probably won’t meet state guidelines. She also said she had heard of a possible COVID-19 exposure at the courthouse but this did not impact city staff. Board member Trevor Coffee said he had understood the governor approved ball practice but not games. Board member Mark Ross asked about the operation of the city pool. Cook said she didn’t think the pool would be able to to be opened this year and if pools are opened they will be under severe restrictions. Ross asked if pool operator Robin Lee needed some certification and Cook said she didn’t think he lacked any certification. Cook also noted she expects the city will need to trim city expenses with the state saying tax receipts could be down 30 to 40%. She said she expects the city would probably want to consider not spending a budgeted $10,000 for repairs and the estimated $50,000 operation cost on the pool. Cook says she doesn’t expect any city employees such as fire and police to have to be furloughed. Dr. Linda Clark asked Cook to check on if pool and lifeguard certifications are up to date. Board member Kiffenea Talley asked about restaurant tax revenue. Cook noted they were down about 20% for March. Talley asked if all restaurants were permitted to collect the city’s prepared food and lodging tax and if new food trucks had their permits. Cook noted a number of the trucks are associated with existing restaurants. Board member Trevor Coffee asked about the Atwood’s property and Cook noted they had closed on it. Vice-Mayor Don Still noted the Clinton Birthplace work on the property could take a year to start. In the meantime Still asked if the city could start some clean up and Cook said they could. Mark Ross asked for updates the 2nd Street and 6th Street project and Cook noted problems contacting the utility companies. Vice-Mayor Still also noted the Klipsch Foundation hopes to work on a sidewalk project around their facility in the old Talbot Feild house. Board member Reginald Easter asked Police Chief J.R. Wilson to step up more patrols on Hickory due to people “hanging out and shooting”. Chief Wilson said he was aware of the problem and will beef up patrols. The meeting then adjourned.