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Around Town

by De Queen Mayor Billy Ray McKelvy 

 

 

March 29, 2017

 

The annual Spring Clean-up Week has been scheduled for April 10-14 in the City of De Queen.
Two times each year, the city sets clean-up weeks to encourage residents to clean their property at the beginning and end of the growing season.


The City of De Queen staff will assist by picking up big items and brush for disposal. If you have items for pick-up, please call De Queen City Hall to be put on the pick-up list. The city staff is using a work order system and preference will be given to residents who call for service.


Old electronics such as computers and televisions will be collected at the De Queen Fire Station. These items will only be accepted during clean-up week. Electronics items are transported to the Federal Correctional Institute in Texarkana where they are scrapped and recycled.


A trailer for e-waste is available each week at the Sevier County Solid Waste Transfer Station at the airport. Collection hours are Tuesday, 7 a.m. to noon; Thursday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Unused paint will also be accepted at the fire station during clean-up week. Please do not dispose of paint in household trash as these cans can spill paint on city streets.


If you have junk cars that need to be disposed of, please call Baker Sales and Service.


I am calling on every citizen to do their part to ensure we can live in a clean community. Police the litter around your home of business. It takes everyone to keep our community clean.
 

 

March 22, 2017

 

The Arkansas Department of Health held a one-day session at Rich Mountain last week to provide area officials with information about the Zika virus.

Zika is a relatively new disease in the Western hemisphere. It is spread primarily through mosquito bites and there is no vaccine or treatment to prevent it.

The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red, itchy eyes. But four out of five people with Zika will not show any symptoms. It poses the greatest risk to babies born to mothers with the virus.

Although the virus can be spread by mosquitoes, the cases in Arkansas have been in people traveling to areas where Zika is present. Arkansas has the types of mosquitoes that carry Zika so they can be infected. So far, Arkansas has no locally-acquired cases of Zika.

The Center for Disease Control is warning women traveling to central or South America to take precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. Women who are pregnant are urged to postpone their trip.

In Arkansas, the Health Department is urging residents to take steps to prevent mosquito bites:

· Use insect repellant containing DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

· Wear long sleeved shirts and pants.

· Use air conditioning and window screen to keep mosquitoes outside.

· Control mosquitoes by emptying standing water in flowerpots and buckets. Mosquitoes can lay eggs in as little amount of water as a bottle cap.

 

 

 

March 15, 2017


With the arrival of spring, some people may be thinking of outdoor building projects that might require a building permit.

Any new structure such as a house, carport or storage building would require a building permit. A new commercial sign or a fence also needs a permit.

One of the most common questions is whether a permit is required for a roofing job. A permit is required only if the roof structure is going to be modified and the roofline changed. No permit is needed to remove old roofing materials and apply a new roof.

Most builders are familiar with the building permit process. However, property owners may not know whether a permit is required.

For projects up to $1,000 in value, the permit fee is $15. There is a $5 fee for each additional $1,000 of value, up to $50,000. From $50,000 to $100,000, there is an additional $4 per thousand and over $100,000 is $3 per thousand. As an example, a building permit for a $100,000 home would be $460.

The State of Arkansas charges an additional 50 cents per $1,000 for non-residential structures.

There is a $25 fee to move an accessory building into the city. The fee for moving a house or manufactured home into the city is $100.

In the case of new construction, inspections are required for electrical, plumbing and HVAC work. These inspections should be made before the walls are closed up.

If a house has been unoccupied and the power has been disconnected, an electrical inspection is required before the power is reconnected.

Anyone considering a building project who needs more information should contact the code enforcement officer at the De Queen Fire Department.

 

February 28, 2016

Most clean-up issues in the City of De Queen are covered by Ordinances 725 and 732, which were adopted 25 years ago. A new proposed ordinance will update some of the terms, but the ordinance is unchanged.

The city’s clean-up ordinances closely follow state law on the subject of clean-up. There are four sections to the ordinance. Here are the issues addressed:

1. Prohibits overgrown weeds and trees, garbage, tires and inoperative motor vehicles, as well as standing water and sewer leaks on property in the city.

2. Prohibits dumping trash or refuse on city streets, alleys and publicly owned property.

3. Requires occupants of the property to keep the gutters clear to allow the free flow of water.

4. Allows the city council to declare dilapidated buildings as a nuisance and require the owner to abate the problem. It establishes a process for the city to remove the building if the owner refuses.

The ordinance sets a fine of up to $500 for violations. In the case of dilapidated buildings, the only remedy is to demolish the building. There is no way to repair such property and put it back into service. If a building is razed, there is a process for filing a lien against the property, which can be enforced in court or added to the property taxes. Collection is not guaranteed.

The city has had some success on clean-up, but it is a continuous process. For clean-up issues, you may contact the Code Enforcement office at the fire station.

 

 

February 15, 2017

The City of De Queen and Sevier County were recognized by members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart at the monthly quorum Court meeting on Monday.

Both the De Queen City Council and the Quorum Court have adopted resolutions to join the Purple Heart trail. There are 32 Purple Heart cities and eight Public Heart Counties in Arkansas.

Victor Rojas Jr. organized the program locally. Three representatives of the Military Order of the Purple Heart presented the city and county with certificates and a lapel pins designated a Purple Heart supporter.

Highway signs will be posted at entrances to the city and county indicating that they are part of the Purple Heart trail.

The Purple Heart is the nation’s oldest military medal and was established on August 7, 1782 by General George Washington. It is presented to members of the Armed Services who have been wounded or paid the ultimate sacrifice in combat with a declared enemy of the United States.

The award was all but forgotten until World War I. It was reinstated on February 22, 1932, the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth, with an order signed by General Douglas MacArthur.

Joining the Purple Heart trail allows De Queen and Sevier County to show support for those who put their lives at risk in service of their country.


 

 

Feb 8, 2017

The De Queen Police Department receives calls each week about phone or Internet scams.

Most recently, the scheme has been someone calling to say they are the winner of a multi-million dollar prize or a car in a publisher’s sweepstakes. But anyone who talks very long will be asked to send money for a processing fee.

Police say if you don’t remember signing up for something, it’s not likely that you won.

One victim recently brought in a $1,500 check received in the mail and asked if it was safe to cash it. The scheme usually asks the victim to return part of the money from the check. When the check turns out to be no good, the schemers are long gone.
A quick check of the Arkansas Attorney General’s web site reveals scams that pretend to represent the Game and Fish Commission, the Attorney General’s Office and even the Internal Revenue Service.

The Attorney General’s Office offers these tips:

• Be cautious about doing financial transactions by e-mail.

• Never open e-mail attachments if you are not sure of the source.

• Use malware and virus protection on your computer and keep it up to date.

• For online purchases, look for “https” in the URL to indicate a secure server.

• Utilize strong, complex passwords and change them frequently.

If you have a question, you may always contact the De Queen Police Department for help. In some cases a quick response has prevented financial loss.

 

Feb. 1, 2017

The City of De Queen has implemented a work order system to organize and track service requests, while improving communications. Persons needing service from the city are asked to call City Hall first so their request can be routed to the right department.

In case of water or sewer leaks, missed sanitation stops or requests for brush pickup, call 870-584-3445. Work orders will be created so that they can be worked in the most efficient manner.

Brush pickup has been moved to Wednesdays, although the schedule may be adjusted depending on weather and work load. Persons with brush must call City Hall and request service. Crews will work from a list of work orders but they do not run collection routes.

Please do not call the city shop to request service. Employees are usually working around town and may not be available to answer the phone. City Hall has radio communication with crews and can relay information quickly, if needed.

In case of water or sewer emergencies after working hours, the city has two duty phones that are answered at all times. For water emergencies, call 870-784-7891. For the sewer department, call 870-784-7892.

A work order system will create a written document that can be tracked and does not rely on memory or verbal instructions.

Please remember to call City Hall at 584-3445 if you need service.

 

January 18, 2017

Here’s is a review of some other department statistics from 2016.

The De Queen Police Department responded to 4,613 calls in 2016, including citations and warnings.

Officers issued 2,458 citations last year. There were 1,038 misdemeanor arrests and 68 felony arrests.

Arrests included 123 drug-related cases and 41 shoplifting cases. Police performed 4,300 security checks and had 1,010 calls for assistance.

Police investigated one homicide and assisted the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office in a homicide investigation in another city.

All officers had 23 hours of annual training last year. All officers had training on domestic violence cases and racial profiling. Officers qualified with firearms two times last year.

The animal control officers has been using social media to post pictures of animals that have been picked up. Animals that are not claimed have been offered for adoption.

The De Queen Police Department had a change in leadership in 2016. Chief Richard McKinley retired July 1. Scott Simmons was named as the new police chief. The police department has a total of 14 sworn officers, at full strength.

The department has 12 registered sex offenders who are being monitored. Three others are incarcerated.

 

January 4, 2017


The start of a new year is a time to make plans for the future. Many of those plans will be about financial matters, including starting a business or improving an existing business.

While grants to start a business are rare, technical help is available. The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center for the State of Arkansas has a network of seven offices around the state. The program is a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Sevier County is in the territory served by the center at Henderson State University. The Henderson center is funded through an SBA partnership with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Henderson State University.

The ASBTDC has announced training events for the month of January on the following topics: Big Impact Marketing Techniques for Small Businesses, 10 Tips for Starting a Business, Small Business Startup Summit, Website in a Day, and Put Your Business on the Map with Google.

These workshops are held throughout the 10-county HSU service area and some of them are offered in online webinars.

For those who already have a business idea, the center can also assist with one-on-one consulting, business training and market research.

For more information, you may call 870-230-5184 or go online at http://www.hsu.edu/asbtdc/.
 

December 28, 2016

 

When electric power was interrupted Monday afternoon, it was reminiscent of another power outage 16 years ago when it was much worse.

Back in 2000, freezing rain started on Christmas Day. By the next day, falling trees had knocked out all the electric power to all of Sevier County and much of southwest Arkansas. Recovery took anywhere from a couple of days up to several weeks. By using some emergency engineering, the city used a fire truck to pump water into the elevated storage tank on West Maple Ave. and keep the water system going.

Lessons learned from that ice storm caused many people and businesses to buy generators to be better prepared in case of another storm.

Monday’s power outage lasted only a few hours, but the city’s water system was ready for the test. Since the 2000 ice storm, generators have been added at strategic locations in the system. There is a generator at the water intake structure at the Cossatot River. Another generator at the water treatment plant powers the water plant, including the new SCADA system. A third generator at the high lift station on Stilwell Avenue pumps water into the elevated storage tank, which keeps the system pressurized.

All three generators came on automatically Monday to keep the water system in operation during the outage. They also shut down automatically when the power was restored.

Keeping the generators in a constant of readiness requires maintenance. Each of the generators is on a timer that starts and operates it for 15 minutes one day per week. The water department has a contract with a company that performs an annual maintenance check one time per year. Diesel fuel tanks are kept topped off.

Monday’s power outage was an inconvenience but the city’s water system was up to the challenge.

 

December 21, 2016


The approach of Christmas means a festive ending to the year, but it also means changes to regular schedules since Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on the weekend.

The City of De Queen will be closed Friday, Dec. 23, and Monday, Dec. 26, in observance of the Christmas holiday. Thursday and Friday trash schedules will be picked up one day early this week.

Thursday’s trash route will be picked up on Wednesday and Friday’s route will be picked up on Thursday.

Next week, Monday’s trash route will be picked up on Tuesday and Tuesday’s route will be collected on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday routes will not be changed the week after Christmas.

The Sevier County Landfill will be closed Friday, Dec. 23, and Monday, Dec. 26, as well.

The City of De Queen Sanitation Department will be running an extra truck on the week after Christmas to keep up with expected demand.

The City of De Queen will be closed Monday, Jan. 2, in observance of New Year’s Day. Monday’s trash route will be picked up on Tuesday. Tuesday’s route will be picked up on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday routes are not changed.

 

December 14, 2016


Street sweeping may be in the city’s future, depending on the outcome of a trial last weekend.

A sweeping contractor from Paris, Texas cleaned downtown city streets early Monday morning, following Saturday’s annual Christmas parade. The contractor swept the downtown area, De Queen Avenue and Fourth Street, collecting a considerable volume of leaves, dirt, gravel and litter which accumulated along the curbs. A city park employee got out on Sunday to blow debris off the sidewalks into the street where the sweeper could reach it.

Street sweepers are specialized and expensive machines. It such cases it makes more sense to use a contractor rather than buying a machine. If the trial run proves satisfactory, the street department has money in the budget for more sweeping in 2017.

The holiday season is here and sanitation schedules will be changed for the next two weeks due to holiday closings.

The City of De Queen will be closed Friday, Dec. 23, and Monday, Dec. 26, in observance of Christmas. Next week, Dec. 19-23, Thursday and Friday routes will be one day early. Thursday’s trash route will be picked up on Wednesday and Friday’s route will be picked up on Thursday. Monday and Tuesday’s routes are not changed.

The week after Christmas, Dec. 26-30, Monday and Tuesday routes will be one day late. Monday’s route will be picked up on Tuesday. Tuesday’s route will be picked up on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday routes will not be changed.

The City of De Queen will be closed Monday, Jan. 2, for New Year ’s Day. Monday’s route will be picked up on Tuesday. Tuesday’s route will be picked up on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday routes will not be changed.

 

December 7, 2016

A major improvement to the city’s water system was completed recently with the addition of new pumps and drives at the high lift station on Stilwell Ave.

There are three pumps at the location. The water department alternates between two smaller 100-horsepower pumps and one larger 200-horsepower pump. The dual set-up gives the system redundancy in ease of a pump failure.

When the first pump was replaced last year, it was determined it was more than 50 years old. It soon became obvious that the other pumps, and their electrical control systems were also obsolete.

The new parts were bigger than the old equipment, which created the need for a larger building.

Old electrical controls were upgraded to variable frequency drives (VFD’s) which control the speed of the pump motors by varying voltage and frequency. The largest pump, which is the everyday workhorse, is now pumping all of the water needed for the city at about 63 percent of maximum load. Motor speeds can be adjusted with the turn of a switch, to fine tune the needs of the system. This should translate into savings on power usage.

The final pump was installed last month and all drive systems were connected. Upgrades included a new flow meter and check valves.

Total cost of the improvements will be about $250,000. With a new raw water line and improvements at the water treatment plant, the city’s water system should be in good shape for the future.

 

 

November 30, 2016

The Christmas shopping season is here and local businesses are hoping you will remember them when you are filling your Christmas wish list.

The De Queen-Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is again coordinating the Shop at Home campaign, which includes weekly drawings and a grand prize drawing for a gift basket with over $1,000 worth of certificates and prizes.

Participation is easy. For each $10 spent with a local merchant, shoppers will receive a ticket which can be entered in the prize drawing. A stamp or roll of address labels can make signing up quick and easy.

Weekly winners will be announced each Friday morning on KDQN-FM radio. The grand prize drawing will be on Dec. 23.

Competition for business is fierce and shoppers have many options, including online shopping. But local businesses are trying hard to build the community where they are located. Local businesses are the ones who support school projects, baseball teams and volunteer fire departments. They also collect sales taxes that help fund vital public services.

Please support these local businesses during the holiday season. Entries in last year’s contest represented almost $1 million in local shopping.

Don’t forget the annual Christmas parades which will be Saturday, Dec. 3, in Lockesburg, Horatio and De Queen. Many of these businesses will be open during the parade time.



 

 

November 22, 2016

This week Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving, an event that is as old as the nation.

The first Thanksgiving was in the fall of 1621 when the Pilgrims who settled Plymouth Colony held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. The Wampanoag Indians played a key role in the event.

President Abraham Lincoln declared the event a national holiday in 1863 and set the date as the last Thursday of November. President Franklin Roosevelt refined the date as the fourth Thursday in November, in order to encourage holiday shopping.

Here are a few interesting facts from the U.S. Census Bureau regarding Thanksgiving:

1. There are 118.3 million occupied housing units in the U.S., all potential stops for Thanksgiving dinner

2. There are 24 million U.S. residents of English ancestry as of 2014, possible descendants of the Plymouth colonists.

3. As of 2010, there were 6,500 members of the Wampanoag American Indian tribe, half of which reside in Massachusetts.

4. The U.S. will produce 243 million turkeys this year -- up 4 percent from the year before -- and 841 million pounds of cranberries. Wisconsin is the number one cranberry producing state, with Massachusetts in second place.

The Arkansas Farm Bureau estimates that the cost of a typical Thanksgiving feast will be down for the second year in a row, due largely to declines in the cost of frozen turkey and a gallon of milk.

According to the Farm Bureau’s 31st annual survey, the cost of a Thanksgiving feast for a family of 10 people is $44.84, or $4.48 per person. That’s down from $45.24 the year before.

AFB President Randy Veach said the fact that consumers enjoy a holiday meal for less than $5 per person is the result of efficiency of food production and lower fuel and transportation cost.

 

November 16, 2016

The City of De Queen has 291 fire hydrants that stand ready to supply water in case of a fire. These hydrants are checked yearly to ensure they operate and are ready for service.

The American Water Works Association has a detailed procedure for inspecting and servicing fire hydrants to be sure they are ready when needed.

In the City of De Queen, hydrants are inspected annually. The flow or volume of water and the static pressure is tested and recorded for comparison with previous yearly tests.

Recently, the water department has been cleaning and painting some of the fire hydrants to improve their appearance. A crew of water employees uses air tools to remove the old paint. To finish, a new layer of spray paint is applied.

You can see fire plugs that have been repainted at several locations around De Queen: Seventh Street and De Queen Avenue, Johnson Bridge Road at Craig Lane and Third and Stilwell downtown. The new paint job makes a dramatic difference in the appearance of the hydrant.

The water department recently installed two new fire hydrants on U.S. 71 north at the De Queen Business Park.

Plans are underway to continue the painting program in 2017. The fire hydrants will also be color coded so firefighters will know how much volume and pressure to expect from each hydrant.
 

 

November 9, 2016

Customers can automate the payment of city utility bills to ensure service is never interrupted because someone forgot to pay the bill.


Bank drafts also save the cost of postage and there is never a late penalty.


About 20 percent of the city’s water, sewer and sanitation customers have their bill paid automatically by bank draft. The drafts are presented to the bank around the first of each month and the payments are processed electronically.


Water meters are read in the first week of the month and new bills are mailed on the 20th day of the month. Customers have until the 10th of the following month to pay the bill, about three weeks. After the 10th day of the month, a 10 percent penalty is applied. If the bill is not paid by the 15th, water service is disconnected. There is a $25 reconnect fee if service is disconnected for non-payment.


Sometimes customers say they did not receive the postcard utility bill in the mail. If mail delivery is not reliable, the city can send copies of the utility bill by e-mail. About three dozen customers take advantage of that delivery option, which was added last year.


Credit card payments and e-payments are not an option at present. Those payment options would involve an additional “convenience fee” for the processing of the payment. There are also security issues that have to be resolved.


If you are interested in paying by bank draft, contact De Queen City Hall at 870-584-3445.


De Queen City Hall will be closed Friday, Nov. 11, for Veteran’s Day. Because of the holiday, Thursday and Friday trash routes will be run one day early this week. Thursday’s route will be picked up on Wednesday. Friday’s route will be picked up on Thursday.

 

 

October 24, 2016


The City of De Queen is reminding all city residents that a 2008 city ordinance prohibits keeping pit bull dogs inside the City of De Queen.

Ordinance 949 makes it unlawful to keep in the city any dogs of the following breeds: American Pit Bull terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and American Bull Dog. Also prohibited are dogs whose owner admits or identifies the dogs as being of the above breeds, dogs substantially conforming to the specified breeds and those animals commonly recognizable and identifiable as such.

Owners convicted of violating the ordinance can be fined up to $500. Any owner who fails to remove a dog from the city limits can be fined up to $500 per day. If an owner reclaims a dog and then fails to remove it from the city limits, the animal can be seized and humanely destroyed.


 

 

October 19, 2016

A treasure of statistical and census information is available from the Institute for Economic Advancement, a division of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
While the U.S. conducts a full census every 10 years, more reports are available during the interim as data is analyzed. Updated census reports are available for as recently as 2015.
A visit to the IEA site last week indicates that Sevier County and Miller County continue to buck the trend in southwest Arkansas by showing increases in population. In the 2010 census, Sevier County had a population of 17,058, but population grew by 232 to 17,290 in 2015. Miller County grew from 43,462 in 2010 to 43,908 last year, an increase of 446.
Population for the City of De Queen increased by 113 to 6,707 in 2015.
Population estimates are determined by adding births, subtracting deaths and then calculating net migration.
As for ethnicity, Sevier County’s had 5,709 residents, or 32.2 percent, claiming to be of Hispanic origin in 2015. In other racial and ethnic groups, the county had 926 African American residents, 812 American Indians, 150 Asians, 84 native Hawaiian and 10,434 white. Because some people identified as being of more than one race or ethnic group, total numbers are more than the population.
You can find this and much more census information at the website: http://iea.ualr.edu.
 

Here’s a reminder: the City of De Queen and the Chamber of Commerce are asking youngsters to observe Halloween on Monday, Oct. 31 this year. The observance is moved only when it falls on Sunday.
 

 

Oct. 12, 2016

Here are a few notes on a variety of things going on around town this week.
This is fall clean-up week. Please take advantage of the opportunity to clean up around your property. You may call City Hall for big item pick-up. Electronics and old paint are accepted at the fire station this week only.
This is also National Fire Prevention Week, an event which is celebrated around the time of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. That fire took 250 lives and destroyed 17,400 buildings. You may have heard the legend that the fire started when Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern. It’s a good story, but the legend has since been debunked.
This year’s Fire Prevention Campaign emphasizes the importance of smoke detectors and the fact that these need to be replaced every 10 years. Smoke detectors are inexpensive protection and De Queen Fire Department has a limited number of alarms that are free to city residents.
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has awarded the bid for construction of the Burke Creek and Cossatot Relief bridges and approaches. The job was awarded to James Construction Group, LLC from Baton Rouge, La. At a cost of $9,477,046.87. Work should begin in the next four to eight weeks and be completed late next year. Efforts to replace the narrow, curved bridge started several years ago.
Finally, work has been stalled on the sewer extension project on U.S. 70-71 east of De Queen, but should get restarted this week. Completion is expected in early November.
 

 

October 05, 2016

Next week, Oct. 10-14 is fall clean-up week in the City of De Queen.


The city conducts clean-up campaigns twice each year to encourage residents to clean their property at the beginning and end of the growing season. City employees assist by picking up furniture, appliances and other large items which are placed at the curb.


Electronics recycling is offered during clean-up week. These items are collected at the De Queen Fire Station and transported to the Federal Correctional Institute in Texarkana where they are taken apart and the materials recycled. The items are accepted at the fire station only during clean-up weeks, but Sevier County has an e-waste recycling trailer available at the Sevier County Airport. It is open Tuesday morning, Thursday afternoon and all day Saturday.


Unused paint is also accepted at the fire station during clean-up week. Paint should not be put in household trash because cans can come open in the truck and spill paint along the city streets.


Unkempt property is one of the most common complaints received at City Hall. Homes or businesses surrounded by junk present a poor image of our town. If we want to live in a town that is attractive, it requires all city residents to contribute to the effort. It’s not enough to maintain your own property. Nor can we expect city employees to do all the work.


This fall, I am calling on all city residents to clean their own property, then look beyond and see help keep the public spaces clean. Police your neighborhood and streets.


Next week is clean-up week. Please do your part, then do some more.

 

September 28, 2016

The City’s street department is finishing up on its 2016 street program and the biggest part of that was an overhaul of the two curves on north Ninth Street.

The Ninth Street project added another two feet to each side of the roadway. Earlier in the year, street employees cleared brush to improve visibility in the area. After the new asphalt surface cures for a few days, a paint crew will put paint new lines on the center and edges. Some other main streets will be repainted at the same time.

The cost of asphalt work on north Ninth Street was about $37,000.

De Queen qualified for the State Aid for City street program this year, but after three bid openings, the Arkansas Highway Department was still unable to award a contract. It’s too late in the season to try again. The money is still set aside for the City of De Queen and the project will be offered for bids again next year.

The project to replace the Burke Slough Bridge at the U.S. 70-71 intersection east of De Queen is also delayed. The bid to replace the two narrow bridges was over budget and it was rejected.

On another subject, the fall clean-up campaign has been scheduled for Oct. 10-14 in the City of De Queen. The city encourages owners to clean their property by offering clean-up weeks at the beginning and end of the growing season. The city will assist with pickup of large items. Old electronics and unused paint will be collected at the fire station.

You may call City Hall at 584-3445 to get on the pickup list.


 

 

Sept. 21 , 2016

The City’s street department is finishing up on its 2016 street program and the biggest part of that was an overhaul of the two curves on north Ninth Street.

The Ninth Street project added another two feet to each side of the roadway. Earlier in the year, street employees cleared brush to improve visibility in the area. After the new asphalt surface cures for a few days, a paint crew will put paint new lines on the center and edges. Some other main streets will be repainted at the same time.

The cost of asphalt work on north Ninth Street was about $37,000.

De Queen qualified for the State Aid for City street program this year, but after three bid openings, the Arkansas Highway Department was still unable to award a contract. It’s too late in the season to try again. The money is still set aside for the City of De Queen and the project will be offered for bids again next year.

The project to replace the Burke Slough Bridge at the U.S. 70-71 intersection east of De Queen is also delayed. The bid to replace the two narrow bridges was over budget and it was rejected.

On another subject, the fall clean-up campaign has been scheduled for Oct. 10-14 in the City of De Queen. The city encourages owners to clean their property by offering clean-up weeks at the beginning and end of the growing season. The city will assist with pickup of large items. Old electronics and unused paint will be collected at the fire station.

You may call City Hall at 584-3445 to get on the pickup list.

 

 

 

Wednesday, August 31 , 2016


Monday, Sept. 5, is Labor Day, the unofficial end of the summer season and a time for seasonal celebrations. It’s also time for the annual law enforcement campaign against drunk driving.

State and local law enforcement officers will be out in force as part of the effort which is called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” The effort began Aug. 19 and continues through Labor Day.

In addition to increased police presence on the highways, sobriety checkpoints may be set up along roads. When it comes to driving under the influence, the standing police policy is “zero tolerance.”

In addition to injuries or fatalities from a crash, drunk drivers run the risk of jail time, loss of driver’s license, and court-ordered community service. The financial impact can include higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs and lost time at work.

The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is a partnership between the Arkansas State Police and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to stop drunk drivers and save lives. According to the NHTSA, during the 2014 Labor Day weekend, 40 percent of crash fatalities involved drivers or motorcycle operators who were legally impaired with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher.

The Arkansas State Police recommends planning ahead whenever you expect to consume alcohol and designate a sober driver to keep the keys.

 

08/24/16

The City of De Queen Planning Commission met last week to hear a zone change request and decide on remodeling a non-conforming structure.

The Planning Commission is a seven-member volunteer board which meets as needed, usually three or four times per year. The last few meetings have dealt with issues where building projects were undertaken without the property owner getting a building permit.

In one case, a property owner added a new porch onto a house without a permit. The new porch was larger than the old one and as a result, the house no longer met the setback requirements.

In another situation, a vacant, non-conforming property was being remodeled. The rules require such structures be brought into compliance if they have been vacant more than six months.

Another frequent code enforcement issue is the construction of fences. Frequently, homeowners build a fence without knowing their property boundaries. The result can be a fence that encroaches on a neighbor’s property or city right-of-way.

For anyone planning a construction project, it’s a good idea to check with the code enforcement office at the De Queen Fire Station before building begins. A building permit is required for new construction, additions such as a porch or building which changes the roofline of a house.

A remodeling permit is required if interior walls will be changed.

The cost of permits is nominal and the process can sometimes head off problems.


 

08/16/2016

The third time was not the charm for the City of De Queen’s State Aid for City Street paving program.
After two offerings which generated no bidders, the Arkansas Highway Department received two bids for De Queen’s project on Aug. 10. But the low bid was $410,000 for work which the highway department had estimated at $307,000. After committee review, the Highway Department decided the price was too high and will not award the bid.
De Queen was awarded $250,000 as part of the State Aid for Streets program earlier this year. The program is funded by a special one-half percent sales tax which will expire after 10 years.
De Queen is still eligible to receive the state aid money, but it will be too late for the 2016 paving season. The project will be offered again in early 2017.

 

 

08/10/2016

A web site operated by an Arkansas utility is providing information about available industrial properties around the state.

Entergy, which supplies electrical power for much of Arkansas, operates the site at www.arkansassiteselection.com.  The Arkansas Economic Development Commission coordinates the program with Entergy.

To be included on the site, properties must be at least 10 acres in size or buildings must be a minimum of 10,000 square feet. A sales or lease price must be listed.

Industrial prospects looking to expand can visit the web site and search according to several criteria. There is also an interactive map with pin drops where available buildings are located.

Sevier County has two properties currently listed on the site.

Local listings are managed by City of De Queen staff. The availability of sites must be verified monthly in order for listings to remain on the site.

There is a wide variety of statistical information available on the site. Census information is available for each of Arkansas 75 counties, as well as information about each county’s workforce.

Many factors go into economic development and it takes the right combination to be successful. The site selection map is a useful tool in that process.

 

 

08/03/2016

Now that baseball season is finished, the city parks department is undertaking some maintenance on the fields at the Hwy. 70 West Sportsplex.

On field four, the park staff releveled the field by removing a foot or more of soil that had built up after years of use. Sod was cut from the fields and saved for re-use. After the sod was replaced, more grass was planted and the area mulched. Fields are being irrigated this summer to keep the sod alive.

Renovation is continuing on field one where the old chain link backstop is being replaced by a new net system. Construction on the block work is about 75 percent complete at present. After that, it will be a matter of setting poles and hanging nets. That project is a $34,000 item in the 2016 city budget.

Summer activities are winding down as youngsters get ready to return to school on Monday, August 15.

Saturday, August 14, is the last day for public swim at the city’s swimming pool. The pool has had a good year with participation good for public swim, swimming lessons and parties.
 

 

07/27/2016

Last week, while the street department was repaving a street cut on Altena Ave., the water department was two blocks away cutting the pavement to repair a water leak.


Time and traffic are not the only enemies of streets. Frequently, crews have to cut streets to repair utility lines. Although cuts are no bigger than necessary, a patch is never as good as the original street.


The street department is experimenting with a new type of repair to prevent street cuts. On Heritage Place, an old metal culvert is rusted out and in need of replacement. Digging up the culvert would involve cutting a good street, and without an alternate route, residents would be blocked in until the job is finished.


Instead of digging, a new, smaller plastic pipe was pushed inside the old culvert. The 50-foot pipe was shipped in two pieces and snapped together on the job site. Workers will create a bulkhead to seal the gap at the ends of the two pipes, the pour grout to fill the void between the new and old pipes. When it dries, the pipes are capped and the job is complete.


Even though the new pipe is smaller, the manufacturer says the smooth pipe will allow more water to flow then the old pipe, which was corrugated..


Several other Arkansas counties are using the product as a “no-dig” solution to replace old rusted out metal culverts. If the results are satisfactory, there are several other locations in the city where the technology can be used.
 

 

07/20/2016


One of the headaches that local businesses have to deal with is unauthorized use of city dumpsters. City Hall regularly receives calls from customers who pay for use of a dumpster, but find it is being used by others who are not associated with their business.

Dumpster abuse is especially a problem after long weekends when businesses are closed. Those that are easily accessible are frequently overflowing with trash. Violators are not concerned about the items they place in dumpsters. Fish remains, oil or cooking grease make a foul smell and leave a mess when the dumpster is emptied. Metal or wood can damage the truck when it is compacted.

Problem dumpsters will soon be getting a bright yellow warning sign advising they are not for public use. Violators can be given a citation for theft of services, which carries a maximum fine of $1,345. Anyone who witnesses free riders is welcome to call De Queen Police and report a license plate number. Photo surveillance with game cameras will be employed in trouble spots.

De Queen residents are provided weekly home pick-up for $8.25 a month. City residents are asked to hold their trash for weekly curbside pickup rather than taking it to dumpsters. Residents outside the city may take their solid waste to the transfer stations maintained by Sevier County. One of the closest is at the Sevier County Airport. It’s open three days per week and there is a trailer for old electronics.

Please respect that the dumpsters are not for public use. It takes the cooperation of everyone to keep our city clean.

 

 

07/13/2016

City Hall has recently received calls from people who were concerned about door-to-door solicitors. Ordinance 927 regulates how these sales people can do business within the city limits.

The ordinance requires anyone doing business as a door-to-door salesman is required to register at city hall and obtain a permit from the city clerk. There is a $100 application fee for individuals and a $250 fee for companies with more than one representative.

The process allows a background investigation of the applicant and their employer. Vendors are required to show their permit, if requested. Permits are good for one year, but can be revoked for violation of city or state law.

Vendors cannot call on any residence after 8 p.m. or before 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday calls are prohibited. It is also prohibited to call at residences where “No Soliciting” signs are posted.

The ordinance does not apply to state residents selling fruits, vegetables or farm products produced within the state. Nor does it apply to charitable, educational or religious organizations which are not for profit.

Anyone who violates the ordinance is subject to a fine up to $500. Any city resident who has a problem with solicitors should call the De Queen Police Department.

 

06/29/2016

This weekend many Americans will be celebrating Independence Day, the national holiday which commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

In 1776, the second Continental Congress, unable to work out differences with England, asked Thomas Jefferson to write the first draft of a declaration of independence. After several changes, the vote was taken late in the afternoon on July 4. The vote was nine colonies in favor, two voting no, one undecided and one abstain.

Although signing was not completed until later in August, July 4 has been accepted as the anniversary of U.S. independence.

By the early 1800’s, parades, picnics and fireworks were established as the traditional way to celebrate America’s birthday. Independence Day has been a national holiday since 1870.

The City of De Queen will hold its annual Fourth of July celebration on Saturday, July 2, at the Hwy. 70 West Sportsplex in De Queen. The program begins at 6 p.m. with entertainment and then concludes with a fireworks show at dark.

Parking is available at the Sportsplex, the UA Cossatot campus and First Assembly of God. Remember, parking is not allowed on U.S. Hwy. 70.

This weekend, bring your lawn chairs or blankets and help continue the tradition of celebrating American independence.

De Queen City Hall will be closed Monday, July 4 and Monday and Tuesday trash routes will be one day late.

 

 

June 22, 2016

Summer officially arrived this week and events of the season are coming up.

 
The City of De Queen will host its annual Fourth of July celebration on Saturday, July 2, at the UA Cossatot amphitheater on U.S. Hwy. 70 West. Entertainment begins at 6 p.m. This year music will be provided by the Midnight Hurricanes, a popular local band. A talent hour will be available for anyone who would like to perform during intermission. Performers should contact the park office to be put on the schedule.


The celebration will conclude with a fireworks show at dark. The fireworks are provided by a Little Rock company.


Several organizations will be selling food items to raise funds. They will be located near the concession stand.


Anyone attending the show should bring a lawn chair or blanket if they want a place to sit.
Remember, no parking along U.S. Hwy. 70. Parking is available at the UA Cossatot campus and at First Assembly of God.


Another sign of summer is the Farmer’s Market now underway in Herman Dierks Park Shelter House. Local growers gather each Wednesday and Saturday at 7:30 a.m. to share the bounty of the garden. Tomatoes are now available at the market. Shop early as sell-outs are common.
 

 

June 14, 2016

After a brief rain delay, work to improve the curve on north Ninth Street will continue in a few weeks.


City street department workers have cut back the shoulders on the road and build a new, wider shoulder with a gravel base to support asphalt. Early on, traffic kept wandering off on the new shoulder and kicking up gravel onto the roadway. Excess gravel was swept off the street, then the shoulders were sprinkled and rolled to firm up.


The second curve will get a similar treatment, but it will be closer to the time when the street will actually be paved.


Bids were opened on asphalt paving for the 2016 city street program last Friday and the low bid was $94.90 per ton. Paving on north 9th Street should begin around the second week of July.


Brush along a fence row was cut to improve visibility around the curve. That work will continue as weather permits.


Because of the double curves, it is a very difficult place to work. Police have been helping by flagging traffic on each end of the project while workers are on the street. Please drive with caution in that area when work is being done.
 

 

 June 8, 2016

Last year the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department approved De Queen for its State Aid for City Street Program, however, approval was the easy part. De Queen’s street project has been advertised twice but so far has attracted no bidders.

A few years ago Arkansas voters approved a temporary one-half percent sales tax for highways. With that revenue, the highway department funded a State Aid for City Streets program. Any Arkansas city can apply for the state aid program and approval is easy, as long as streets qualify.

De Queen applied for the program in late 2014 and last year received approval for $250,000 worth of asphalt paving.

De Queen’s street program was combined with two other western Arkansas cities in a single project. Bids were opened in March and again in May, but there were no bidders.

Bids on De Queen’s street paving will be advertised again for an August bid opening. If there are no bidders, the project will be rolled into 2017 and the highway department may negotiate with contractors to get the project going.

The City had planned to spend $85,000 of city funds in addition to the state aid. That local money will be used to improve north 9th Street in the area of Robinson Road and from U.S. 70 to Maple Ave. That work is underway now.

City streets included in the State Aid for Cities program are south 9th Street, Gilson, Wallace and Driver, along with two blocks of Stilwell.

 

06/01/2016

The City of De Queen’s swimming pool opened the 2016 summer season with a free swim day on Monday, May 30.


The pool schedule is much the same as it has been in previous years. Public swim sessions are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $3. Reservations for pool parties are now being accepted. Cost will depend on the length of the party. Call the park office at 870-642-4140 for party reservations.


Swimming lessons begin next week. Three week-long day classes will be held from June 6 through June 24. Evening classes will be held weekly from June 27 through July 15. Cost is $35 for each class.
The kiddie pool is back in operation this year. Repairs have been made to the diving board and the door to the pool area.


There are also sessions for specialized groups. Endurance swimmers training for marathon events can train from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Wednesday. Senior swim is available from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. each day.
Season passes are available for $50 for individuals. A family pass is available and will be no more than $200, regardless of the number in the family.


Call the park office for more information.
 

 

 


 

State of the City Address

Mayor Billy Ray McKelvy

February 3, 2015

To the honorable members of the De Queen City Council, all city employees and my fellow citizens, I am pleased to report to you on the State of the City of De Queen, Ark. A more detailed report from each department is included with this address.

Last year was a good year for the City of De Queen. The biggest accomplishment was construction of a new raw water supply line to the Cossatot River. The project cost $2.5 million and marked the completion of a project planned for almost 30 years. Water was pumped through the new line for the first time on September 26, 2014. The new line is delivering 50 percent more water than the old line. I have notified the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department that the new line is complete and the old water supply line has been abandoned, clearing the way to widen U.S. 70-71 east of De Queen.

The city’s portion of the new one-half percent sales tax dedicated to highways has allowed the Street Department to continue its asphalt street program and upgrade equipment. This new revenue totaled $122,060 in 2014. A new Kubota trackhoe was added to the street department last year and it has been a great addition for cleaning ditches, loading brush and digging. The street department purchased a Freightliner dump truck which replaced the old brush truck as a tow vehicle. Another good street program is budgeted for 2015 and a new skid steer loader is in the budget this year. The Highway Department will replace the traffic light at Lakeside and Stilwell in 2015.

The Police Department has 14 sworn officers after adding one officer in 2014. Two officers have retired recently and the two new hires will go to the law enforcement academy this year. De Queen Police added personal cameras for officers two years ago. Due to recent police tragedies, the rest of the country is now catching up on the use of cameras. The phone line for City Hall and the Police Department was upgraded to accommodate the upload of data from cameras and server back-ups.

The Fire Department had 212 calls last year, almost double the previous year. The department has excellent equipment and personnel. The firefighters, and some city staff, have started a fitness program using donated equipment at the fire station. A half dozen people have signed up for rural fire memberships at $50 per year and there seems to be a demand for this service.

Water, sewer and sanitation continue to provide quality services at reasonable rates. The city’s only debt is a pair of loans for the new sewer plant built in 2008. Early payments totaling $600,000 reduced the debt and will allow for easy refinancing in 2017 when bonds are 10 years old. Water rates were increased mid-year with 10-cent increases scheduled for each of the next four years. Sewer and sanitation rates were increased in 2013 but need to be reviewed. Sanitation rates are so low they are unrealistic, considering the demand for the brush pickup keeps growing.

The city is in good financial condition and now in a position to make a decision on how to use its cash reserves. The city has about $2.5 million in sales tax money, accumulated over the years in anticipation of the water line project. With a $6 million budget, I recommend we keep $1 million to prevent cash flow problems and serve as a “rainy day” fund. The remainder can be applied toward capital needs, set aside for an economic development project or other purposes. I urge the council to proceed cautiously and make it count. If we blow it, we will be broke and living from payday to payday. Over the next few months, I plan to have the head of each department make a presentation on their long-term needs. From that “wish list,” I hope the council will be able to set priorities on how to use scarce resources for the greatest benefit of the city and its residents.

We are blessed to live in a unique, diverse community with good people, good schools and a college that is part of the University of Arkansas system.

It is an honor to serve as your mayor and be entrusted with the affairs of the city. I am honored to serve with the City Council.

May God bless America, and the City of De Queen.

 

Waste Water Department

Plant: The year started with very strong influent coming from Pilgrims, the DO (dissolved oxygen) stayed low even with three blowers on. At the end of February, Pilgrims repaired a line that was not going through the pre-treatment plant, after this the influent was better but still strong. Peroxide was used to help put oxygen back in system and in May Pilgrims completed a reworking of the offal area.

Major repairs in 2014; Hoist Trolley in blower room, #1 Wall pump, #2 Blower motor #2 Rotor motor replaced, HMI, #3 Blower check valve replaced, 8” RAS pump & suction piping, Bar Screen, #4 Blower motor, #1,2  Screw pumps grease pumps replaced

Enclosed a portion of the influent/effluent flow meter building for bisulfite storage and treatment

Preventive Maintenance work orders  (367 )

Total Wastewater treated ( 745,605,000 gallons)

Sludge wasted to pond ( 19,516,000 gallons)

Chlorine (7,354 lbs) Bisulfite (1,529 gal)Polymer (22,412 lbs)Sodium Aluminate (114,042 lbs) Peroxide (66,000 lbs) Nitrfiers (295 lbs)

Pond water back to plant (19,510,000 gal)

Rainfall (52.83 in)

KWH (2,323,335)

COLLECTION Lines :  Major manhole replacement and repair by KCS Railroad at Pilgrims plant, replaced 70 ft of 6” main 4th street, installed 406 ft of 8” line and 3 manholes Industrial Park, installed 224 ft of 6” line DeQuincy & 9th.

Main Line Flushes  ( 80 )

Preventive Maintenance work orders ( 230 )

6” line repair ( 5 ) line replace (105 ft) new lines ( 224 ft )

8” line repair ( 2 ) new lines ( 406 ft )

New taps (5 )

Manhole repairs ( 6 ) Manhole clean (2 )

Lift Station repairs ( 7 ) Lift Station pump replacement  (6 )

One Call line locates  ( 392 )

 

Plans for 2015

Plant -- Install new Sodium Aluminate tanks for phosphorus control, Fill cannibal reactor through the weekdays and decant back on weekends when lower strength influent is seen, keep pond level lower to offset rainfall events, finish cement floor in chlorine contact chamber.

Collection – Install new lines and pump stations unsewered sections, replace line 6th St. and Oak Dr. line, clean trunk lines

Staff: Mike Sims, Sewer Department head; Terry Hare, plant operator; Craig Grubbs, plant tech; Leslie Cox, collection foreman; Edmund Lambeth, field tech; one vacant position

Water Department

The biggest project of the year in 2014 was completion of a new raw water line to the Cossatot River. The new line is 24-inch ductile iron. It replaces an old 16-inch asbestos concrete line which was installed on the right-of-way of U.S. 70-71 highway. The new line is 29,000 feet long. S&J Construction of Jacksonville was the contractor and the bid price was about $2.5 million. The project was paid for with revenues from the water department and city sales tax reserves.

The line was put into service Sept. 26, 2014 and is delivering about 50 percent more water than the old line. The water plant produced 717 million gallons of water in 2014 (see chart).

Water Plant – Two new air valves were installed in the old clarifier at the plant. A new drain line was installed in the side of the clarifier to make it easier to clean and the clear tracks were repaired. The backwash pond was pumped out at a cost of $4,000. New finish turbidometers were installed at the plant.

Distribution system – A six-inch water main on North 9th St. was replaced in an area that has blown out two times during the year. The distribution team replaced four old fire hydrants.

Long-range plan

The water department has several long-term needs. The biggest is incorporating new technology to automate the meter-reading process. Currently, it takes four people five days to read meters during the first week of each month. It takes longer if weather is bad. This is about the equivalent of one full-time person.

We need a SCADA system at the plant that will enable the staff to monitor the plant via Internet or smart phone. This could save some overtime.

Other projects include:

·        Replacing filter media

·         Replace old fire hydrants

·         Replace problem main lines on Treating Plant Road and Bennett Street

  

 


 

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