Southwest Arkansas Daily
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Around Town

by De Queen Mayor Billy Ray McKelvy 

 

 

 

 

June 20, 2018

 

The 2017 annual drinking water quality report for the De Queen water system is now available.

The Arkansas Department of Health issues a Consumer Confidence Report for every water system that it regulates. The report is designed to inform water customers about the quality of water and services being delivered. The 2017 report is available at the City of De Queen web site at www.cityofdequeen.com. It is also available by searching on the Health Department web site: www.healthyarkansas.com

The water source for the City of De Queen is the Cossatot River, which is has a low susceptibly to contamination. Water quality is tested daily at the water plant and monthly reports are submitted to the Health Department.

Water is tested for turbidity (cloudiness), inorganic contaminants, total organic carbon, regulated disinfectants and disinfection by-products. De Queen’s water system had no violations of limits in 2017.

Once every two years, the Health Department does a major inspection of the water system called the sanitary survey. The last survey was in 2017 and the De Queen water system received good reports on the overall system and water quality protection measures.

The De Queen Water system produced 719 million gallons of water last year, for an average of almost 2 million gallons per day.

 

 

 

June 13, 2018

 

The De Queen Fire Department has a new supply of smoke alarms that are available to the public at no cost.


Smoke alarms are inexpensive and offer an added layer of protection in case of a fire. Smoke alarms were purchased with donations made by supporters of the fire department.


These alarms are free to residents of the City of De Queen. A member of the fire department will also deliver and install the alarms, if needed. If you do not have a smoke alarm, call 584-7224 and make a request.


If you have smoke alarms already, remember to check the batteries. Some people check these each time daylight saving time changes.


This summer the code enforcement office is covering the town to check for 911 addresses. City Ordinance 1035 requires every building inside the city to display its house number as assigned by the 911 system.


Homeowners can mark their address with adhesive-backed numbers which are available locally. If anyone is unable to post their numbers, the code enforcement will make a metal sign with reflective numbers at no cost.


So far almost 100 homes have been tagged for no address. Displaying the house number will make it easier for emergency personnel or delivery people to locate the address.

 

 

June 6, 2018

People who completed a recent community assessment survey will find out the results at a series of public meetings which get started this week.

Almost 1,000 people completed the online survey. In four public meetings, the public will have a chance to analyze the results in order to develop a set of specific community goals.

The first meeting was held Tuesday evening and was conducted in Spanish.


The schedule for other meetings is:

June 5, Horatio High School practice gym

June 7, De Queen High School cafeteria

June 11, Lockesburg Gym conference room

All forums are at 6 p.m.

You are welcome at all four forums, but please attend at least one. Participation is important to make the process work.
Please share the schedule with your friends and neighbors. It will take commitment to a shared vision to make the project a success.

 

May 23, 2018

De Queen and Sevier County residents are being encouraged to attend a series of forums as part of the community development process.


Over 900 people completed online surveys which collected information about how people feel about their community and their goals for the future. Lisa Taylor, the county’s economic development officer, will have the results of those surveys. The forums will allow the public to analyze responses and develop a set of specific goals.


The schedule for forums is:
June 4, De Queen High School cafeteria. This meeting will be in Spanish.
June 5, Horatio High School practice gym
June 7, De Queen High School cafeteria
June 11, Lockesburg Gym conference room


All forums are at 6 p.m.


You are welcome at all four forums, but please attend at least one. Participation is important to make the process work.


Please share the schedule with your friends and neighbors. It will take commitment to a shared vision to make the project a success.
 

 

May 16, 2018

The Code Enforcement office is currently undertaking a project to make sure 911 addresses are displayed on all buildings in the city.

Last summer, the City Council passed Ordinance 1035 which requires every building to display its house numbers, as assigned by the 911 emergency system. The ordinance requires numbers to be placed so that they are plainly visible from the street, preferably around the front door. If the number is not easily visible from the street, it should be placed near the walk, driveway or common entrance, or on the mailbox.

While it is permissible to have numbers painted or stenciled on the curb or mailbox, it does not satisfy the requirements of the ordinance.

Numbers should be at least three inches high for residences and a minimum of six inches high for non-residential buildings. Peel-and-stick letters which are commonly available at local stores will be satisfactory for the ordinance.

If the residents are unable to post the house number, the fire department has materials to make a metal sign which can be provided at no cost to city residents.

City employees are canvassing the city according to alderman wards. They will make an attempt to talk to the resident, but if no one is at home, they will leave a notice to inform residents of the ordinance.

Purpose of the program is to make it easier for emergency services and delivery people to locate addresses in the city. Although Sevier County has the 911 emergency system, emergency personnel can’t help if they can’t find the address.

The ordinance provides for a fine of $50 to $150 for non-compliance, although that is not the purpose.

 

May 9, 2018

Anyone interested in building a home or developing real estate in the City of De Queen should begin with a visit to the code enforcement office, located in the fire station.


The city’s Land Use and Development book will provide the answers to what is allowable in most of the city’s zoning areas.
A copy of the city’s zoning map, as well as the Land Use and Development book are available on the city web site at www.cityofdequeen.com, under the community tab.


The city has six types of zoning districts. R-1 residential is the most restrictive zone and includes quiet residential neighborhoods with single-family homes on large lots. Also permitted in R-1 are churches, schools, parks and playgrounds, farms, hospitals and day cares.


R-2 zone is more permissive and can include multi-family residences and manufactured homes.


The C-2 highway commercial zone is located along the major highways in town and allows retail, manufacturing, automotive shops, car lots and mobile home parks.


Other zones include C-1 – central business district; C-3 - neighborhood commercial and I-1 industrial.


The Land Use and Development book was adopted by ordinance in December 2001. The zoning map is amended from time to time. Rezoning property requires a hearing by the Planning Commission and approval, plus an ordinance by the city council to amend the zoning map.


 

May 2, 2018

 

 

De Queen Police Department officers have been training for the new mobile computer platform that will soon be part of all city patrol vehicles.


With the help of a $49,000 state grant, De Queen Police Department has been able to purchase rugged laptop computers that will link each vehicle to the Internet, making it easier to run a license check or write a ticket.


The project is part of the Arkansas Traffic Records Modernization Project which debuted with the Arkansas State Police and is now being distributed to other police jurisdictions.


Each officer can use the computer to run a license check rather than contacting the dispatcher by radio. Vehicles are equipped with a mobile hot spot to connect to the Internet via a cellular phone link. The mobile computers are equipped with a scanner so that a driver’s license can be swiped for a real-time report on the owner and driving history.


Writing accident reports and diagramming the scene by hand is tedious, but the eCrash program allows officers to scan driver information into the system rather than transcribing with pen and paper. Officers can create accident diagrams by dragging images on the screen.


Information is collected in a central location so officers will be aware of any recent driving activity. Statistical reports can be generated easily with the new system.


De Queen officers have received two days of training on using the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC) system. After the hardware is installed in vehicles, the system will be in service soon.

 

 

April 25, 2018

 

The mayor of Houston, Texas has launched an “adopt-a-drain” program in an effort to help prevent flooding and keep neighborhoods clean.


After a disastrous flood last year, Houston is addressing its flooding problems on many levels. Adopt-a-drain recognizes that all city residents can individually contribute to reduce street flooding by keeping trash and leaves out of drains.


Houstonians are asked to clean a storm drain four times per year, especially before a rain. The city spends $13 million per year on drain maintenance.


Although De Queen is much smaller than Houston, Texas, our city also has a network of drains and ditches that carry rain water away and prevent flooding. When it rains, the street department checks the usual trouble spots to make sure the water keeps flowing.


Drains should not be used as trash dumps. When someone throws leaves or limbs in a ditch, they are not carried away like a toilet. Debris will wash down to the next culvert or street where water can back up and flood. Please do not throw brush and leaves in the ditches or along curbs.


Here are a couple of reminders:

April 18, 2018

 

Your help is needed for a new program for community development that is about to get underway.


Lisa Taylor, the economic development coordinator for Sevier County, has announced that the county will be participating in Project ACCESS, a development program offered by the Arkansas Economic Development Institute. AEDI is part of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.


While there have been local development initiatives before, ACCESS is a grass-roots program designed to bring people together to build economically vibrant communities. ACCESS helps communities develop sustainable and innovative approaches for economic growth and a better quality of life.


ACCESS will rely on local leaders, volunteers and institutions to formulate a local plan for growth. The program is a four-phase process. The steps are:


1. Laying the groundwork with community leaders,
2. Analyzing results of community surveys,
3. Using survey analysis to conduct a SWOT assessment and create achievable goals
4. Putting the plan to work.


ACCESS is funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and there is no cost to participate. But it will require time and effort from the community. The online survey will be available April 23 and will remain open for about two weeks. Everyone is encouraged to participate. Just log on and take the survey. A paper survey will be available if you prefer. Participation in the process is the key to success.


Watch for the release of the survey on the UA-Cossatot web site, www.cccua.edu and the City of De Queen web site at www.cityofdequeen.com.

 

April 11, 2018

Sevier County and the City of De Queen have joined CodeRED, a national notification system that can deliver messages to county residents.

There is no cost for CodeRED, but it an opt-in program, meaning you must sign up to receive messages. You can get to the enrollment page by going to the Sevier County web site (www.seviercountyar.com), or De Queen site (www.cityofdequeen.com). Click on the CodeRED link and then enter your contact information.

Citizens can choose the type of notices they would like to receive and how they want to be notified, including phone call, e-mail, text or TTY. Up to four phones can be registered for each address. An app is available for smartphones.

Authorized city and county personnel have access to the CodeRED launcher and can create messages in a timely manner. Severe weather warnings are delivered automatically by the National Weather Service. This system will have a greater reach than the weather sirens.

Messages are delivered to a specific geographic area. Administrators can draw on a map to define the area that will receive the message. Last Friday, the National Weather Service issued two warnings for an area that included part of southeast Oklahoma and part of southwest Arkansas. Those messages were delivered to 169 phones and 22 e-mail addresses in the Sevier County CodeRED audience.

As users become more familiar with the CodeRED system, new uses may be developed.
For more information, contact the Sevier County Judge’s office or De Queen City Hall.

 

April 4, 2018

Spring cleaning continues next week with the annual Spring Clean-up week in the City of De Queen.

During the week of April 9-13, City of De Queen crews will be picking up brush and big items such as furniture and appliances. Please have these items ready for curbside pickup when you call to get on the pickup list.

Old electronics will be collected at the fire station during clean-up week. These are transported to the Federal Correctional Institute in Texarkana where they are salvaged for usable materials.

Unused paint will also be collected at the first station during clean-up week. Residents are asked not to put paint cans in with household waste as these can come open in the truck and spill paint on the streets.

E-waste and old paint are accepted at the fire station only during clean-up week.

The City had a successful spring cleaning in March when 88 bags of litter were removed from city streets. During Spring Clean-up week, please make an effort to patrol the litter in your area. Check the streets around your home or business and make an effort to remove any litter that may be present.

It will take everyone in De Queen doing their part to make a difference in the appearance of the city.

 

March 21, 2018

The City of De Queen is trying to organize a major spring cleaning while students are out for spring break.

The City is asking for all citizens to get involved with cleaning their part of town during the week of March 19-23. Several clubs have already signed up. City employees have been enlisted and they will spend some time on clean-up this week.

Volunteers may contact the park office in Herman Dierks Park to pick an area to clean and also get bags and safety vests.
The Code Enforcement office is also helping. Two code officers are covering sections of town and issuing clean-up notices.

 Residents receive a warning or a written notice left on the door giving them seven days to clean up or correct the issue. So far over 100 warnings have been issued. Compliance has been good and a few citations have been issued.

There will be another chance to clean up April 9-13. Spring clean-up week is always held the second week in April. During that week, the sanitation department will pick up brush and big items like appliances. Old electronics and unused paint are collected at the fire station.

Remember, if you have big items or brush, you must call City Hall at 584-3445 to get on the list.

If we want to live in a clean community, everyone will have to do their part. Pick up in front of your home or business and down the street. That means we have to pick up some trash even though someone else may have put it there.

 

March 14, 2018

Spring cleaning is coming early this year.

As in past years, the City of De Queen will hold a spring clean-up week during the second week in April. But in order to make a difference in the town’s appearance, clubs, groups and churches are being asked to help with a special clean-up campaign March 19-23, which coincides with spring break from school.

Any group interested in a community service project may contact the Parks and Recreation Office and sign up for an area to pick up litter. The event has been registered with Keep Arkansas Beautiful, which has supplied safety vests and bags for the event.

City of De Queen employees are also joining in the effort. City staff has been asked to pick an area to clean during the week.
Trash bags and safety vests are available from the park office. Pick-up tools are available for loan but these need to be returned.
Bags of trash are being collected at the city shop for a photo to document the volume of waste on city streets.

Litter control is not just someone else’s responsibility. If we want to live in a clean community, it will take everyone doing their part to clean up and keep it clean.

Volunteers are needed for the special clean-up week March 19-23.

 

March 7, 2018

Litter and clean-up issues are the most frequent complaints at De Queen City Hall. This year the city would like to enlist the help of all citizens in an effort to beautify the city of De Queen.

Spring clean-up is normally the second week in April. This year it will begin the week of March 19-23, which coincides with spring break from schools. One local church has contacted the city about cleaning up litter as a public service project. This is a good opportunity for clubs and civic groups to get involved in cleaning up the city.

Litter is usually packaging, foam cups and soda bottles. It’s impossible to find the person responsible for it and issue a citation. If we want to live in a clean community, it will require some effort from all of us. Someone is going to have to pick up trash which they did not throw out.

Code enforcement officers are joining the effort. In the last three weeks, the department has tagged more than 70 houses for clean-up. A few citations have been written for non-compliance.

In addition, City of De Queen employees will be asked to pick up some city streets during the week of spring break.

For any groups that are willing to help, the City of De Queen will assist by providing trash bags and safety vests. Pickup tools are available for loan but need to be returned. Bags of litter will be collected at the city shop to measure the volume of trash removed.

If your organization would like to make a difference in the city’s appearance, please contact the Parks Office at 870-642-4140 or e-mail: parks@cityofdequeen.com

 

February 21, 2018

Here is another end-of-year report from City of De Queen departments.

The Street Department completed its first round of the State Aid for City Streets program last year. The Arkansas Department of Transportation provided $250,000 worth of paving on city streets. The total project cost of paving was about $319,000, with all over the $250,000 level coming from city funds.

The De Queen City Council has passed a resolution asking ArDOT to use federal bridge replacement funds to build a bridge on Cross Trails road and replace eight metal culverts. The culverts are in poor condition and a bridge will allow more water to flow through without clogging up. The City of De Queen will be responsible for only 20 percent of the estimated $600,000 cost. The initial payment for design work has been sent to the state. Because federal aid projects go slowly, construction of the bridge could take one or two years.

One department manager supervises both the street department and sanitation department. Last year, sanitation crews were switched to a five-day schedule. Trash is collected four days per week with Wednesday reserved for big item pickup and special projects.

Written work orders are used for big item and brush pickup. It is important that anyone needing service must call city hall to request service and a work order will be generated.

When a holiday occurs during a week, special pickups may be delayed until the following week.

 

February 14, 2018

Here’s another year-end department report from the City of De Queen. This week offers a look at the De Queen Police Department.

De Queen Police Department officers responded to 5,389 calls in 2017, up from 4,613 the year before. The figure includes warnings, citations and tickets. The breakdown is as follows: 1,308 citations, 253 misdemeanor arrests, 95 felony arrests, 17 DWI arrest and 2,036 warnings. Police made 5,084 security checks, up from 4,300 the previous year. Officers recovered $9,596 worth of stolen property.

All officers received 26 hours of training and qualified with their firearms four times during the year. Some of the training included active shooter class, criminal interdiction and basic police service dog handlers. One De Queen officer completed the field training officer program. Officers also offered a 56-hour jailer school and a 110-hour auxiliary police officer class.

The animal control officer has continued to pick up loose dogs. He made an effort to locate homes for impounded dogs using social media. Some animals have been given to other shelters which would accept them.

De Queen police are monitoring 11 registered sex offenders and all are currently up to date on registration. Three offenders are incarcerated.

The police department is the largest department in the city. Scott Simmons is the police chief. The city has 14 sworn officers and three non-certified employees.


 

 

February 7, 2018

In January, each city department submits an annual report that will be part of the State of the City address. Here are a few facts from the water department that might be of interest.

Water production ticked up slightly in 2017 with 719.3 million gallons of water produced (1.97 million gallons per day). That is an increase over the previous year when production was 710.2 million gallons. The record was 2005 when production was 983.8 million gallons.

Early last year, a contractor replaced the filter media in the four filters at the water plant. The filters are topped with a layer of fine anthracite coal. Below that are layers of sand and gravel. The new filter media is producing better results on finished water and longer run times between backwash cycles.

Water department employees have been cleaning and repainting fire hydrants. That project will resume when weather improves. The fire department tests fire hydrants for flow each year.

The biggest water project in 2018 was installation of an automatic meter reading system. Total cost of the Neptune brand meter system was $700,000, which was financed from city reserve funds without a rate increase. Reading meters used to be a tedious job that took four people at least a week. With the new drive-by system, one person can read every meter in less than half a day, regardless of weather.

Progress continues to be made on energy efficiency. Lights at the water treatment plant were upgraded to LED last year. Another variable frequency drive (VFD) will be installed on a second river intake pump next year. With the VFD, pump speed can be varied to deliver the volume needed, thus saving energy.

 

January 31, 2018

It seems like winter is still with us, but a few sunny days have led local residents to venture outside with the idea of cleaning the yard before spring arrives.

Here are a few reminders about spring cleaning.

Be careful with fire. Some folks like to burn leaves and dead grass, but wind can spread flames to buildings or a neighbor’s property. Avoid burning leaves, if possible, as smoke is a real problem for people with respiratory problems.

Call for brush pickup. If you have trees and brush to dispose of, remember you must call city hall (584-34450) to get on the pickup list. Crews work from a work order list and they do not patrol the city looking for brush. A phone call will result in faster pickup.

Electronics disposal. You don’t have to wait for clean-up week to dispose of that old computer. There is an electronic waste collection trailer at the waste station at the Sevier County airport. You may dispose of your e-waste on Tuesday morning, Thursday afternoon and all-day Saturday.

Pickup your pickup. Litter is one of the most common public complaints. Judging by the roadside trash collected, the most common items are fast food containers and soda bottles. If you toss these items in the back of a pickup truck, they may blow out at highway speeds.

Get rid of old vehicles. Code enforcement officers have been tagging non-running vehicles which are parked on the city streets. If a vehicle has expired tags and is obviously not running, it may be tagged for removal. After seven days, vehicles can be towed.
 

 

January 24, 2018

The City of De Queen has received an Arkansas Department of Transportation grant to build a sidewalk along Coulter Drive.

The grant application was submitted last year. De Queen was approved for $222,000 in Federal funding for the project. In addition to the grant, the city will be responsible for 20 percent in matching funds, design work, surveys and fees.

The Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) uses federal funds for non-vehicle projects such as pedestrian and bicycle paths, recreational trails, safe routes to school and historic preservation.

A. F. Franks Engineering of Texarkana did the preliminary design work and submitted the grant application. The project includes improving the drainage ditch on the south side of Coulter Drive at the De Queen High School campus. The drain will be diverted into an underground pipe with the new sidewalk on top.

The city’s original application was for $456,000, enough for a sidewalk all the way to the school administration building. A connector sidewalk would provide a way for students to walk from one campus to the other, as well as an off-street path for walkers and runners.

As approved, the grant should be enough to build a sidewalk from the high school campus to the corner of Ninth Street and Coulter Drive. The city can apply again for the Ninth Street portion.

The design work and navigating the grant process is likely to take most of this year. Construction may not begin until next year.

 

January 17, 2018

Each January, the City of De Queen reviews its disaster recovery procedures as part of a continuity of operations plan.


The Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit started requiring cities to have a continuity plan several years ago. Computers and electronic data are a big part of any city’s business. Financial records, including payroll and payments to suppliers, are used daily and great efforts are made to protect these from loss.

State auditors require a continuity plan because in the event of a disaster, the ability to pay employees and suppliers will be an essential part of the recovery.

Computer records are backed up on site at city hall. They are also backed up each evening to an Internet-based storage system. In case of a complete loss of the local computer system, records can be recovered from cloud storage while a new computer system is installed.


Legislative Audit requires cities to test their disaster plan two times per year. The City of De Queen schedules one test for the first of a new year. Another test is usually scheduled prior to the arrival of state auditors. Tests usually include a review of the back-up system and download of selected test files to make sure they can be retrieved. The test also involves a review of policies on access to the city’s system.

Moving large amounts of data requires reliable Internet access. Last year, the City of De Queen switched to a fiber optic line that provides 50 Megabit speed for both upload and download. Changes to the phone system have not been finalized yet.

In addition to city records, police cameras generate large data files that must be uploaded to online storage each day.

 

January 10, 2018

A growing number of city utility customers are automating their bill paying by having their monthly water utility bills paid by bank draft.

Presently, 455 water customers are paying by bank draft. That almost 20 percent of all customers.

You can sign up for bank draft payment by completing a simple form at City Hall and supplying a copy of a voided check.

Utility bills are mailed on the 20th of the month and are due on the 10th of the following month. Bank draft payments are sent to the bank as an electronic file and payments are taken out on the 10th day, or the previous day if the 10th falls on a holiday.
After the 10th, a 10 percent penalty is applied to the bill. If the bill is not paid by the 15th of the month, service is disconnected and a $25 reconnect fee is applied.

Paying by bank draft means there will never be a penalty for late payment.

If you have had problems with the postcard bills getting lost in the mail, bills can be delivered by e-mail. This is convenient for companies who pay the bill from another office, or customers who pay a water bill for someone else. About 50 utility customers receive bills by e-mail. You may sign up for e-mail delivery at city hall.
 

 

January 4, 2018

This week the City of De Queen begins a new year this week and that means a new city budget.

 

The budget, which was adopted by the City Council in December, is a spending plan for the year ahead.

 

The 2018 street department budget is less than previous years, but it includes several projects which will be accomplished with state and federal funds. Last year, the city spent approximately $319,000 on street paving. The Arkansas Department of Transportation provided $250,000 of that amount through the State Aid for City Streets Program.

 

The Department of Transportation has approved the use of federal bridge replacement funds to replace the culverts on Cross Trails Road with a new concrete bridge. The estimated cost is $600,000. The city’s share will be 20 percent, or $120,000. The city will pay $12,000 this year, which is 20 percent of the anticipated engineering cost to get the project started. The project could take up to two years to complete, but a bridge will be a better solution than replacing the eight culverts, which are in poor condition.

 

De Queen can reapply for the State Aid for City Streets program this year and get back in line for another $250,000 worth of paving. Approval is automatic as funds are available.

 

The State Aid program is funded by a temporary one-half percent sales tax which voters approved for highways in 2012. The tax will expire in 10 years, unless it is renewed. Meanwhile, it has helped many small cities with street needs.

 


 

Water Department Staff

Jeff Brown Manager

Tim Conatser, water plant

Gary Anderson, water plant

Jody McRae, water plant

Darren Higgins, field foreman

Bobby Souther, distribution

Chet Stubbs, distribution

Kendall Johnson, distribution

Lewis Newberry, distribution

 

 

City of De Queen, AR
221 N. 2nd St
P. O. Box 730
De Queen, AR  71832
870-584-3445
Fax: 870-642-3117
bmckelvy@dequeen-ar.us