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Marion aprroves mutual fire aid agreement with West Memphis

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Council signs off on deal to provide, receive support in emergency situations

news@theeveningtimes.com

The Marion City Council voted 4-2 during its November meeting to approve a mutual fire aid agreement between the City of Marion and the City of West Memphis.

Under the agreement, each city will be required to have a minimum of one engine company available with two safety equipped firefighters to respond on the scene in the event they are needed at a fire emergency.

Fire Chief Woody Wheeless said the agreement was something the two cities have been talking about for ten years to help one another and will benefit both communities by increasing their ISO rating, which helps lower homeowner insurance permiums.

“This would be for emergencies in the industrial areas,” Wheeless said. “It will not put any burden on us and it will not leave Marion defenseless.”

Marion Mayor Frank Fogleman added that either city can leave the agreement with 30 days notice.

“The chief has been over it and is comfortable with the agreement,” Fogleman said.

“And this piece of paper helps both our ISO ratings.”

It was a busy agenda for the council ahead of the holidays. In other business: • The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will soon be stocking the lake at the Marion Sports Complex with fish as part of new agreement between the City and the state agency.

Marion City Council approved joining the Family and Community Fishing Stocked Ponds Program at its November meeting.

Parks and Recreation Director Andy Rawls said Game and Fish will stock the lake with trout, largemouth bass and catfi sh. West Memphis has a similar agreement with Game and Fish at Tilden Roger Park.

“It doesn’t cost us anything,” Rawls said.

“What they would do is they will stock our lake at the complex with trout November through February. They are currently stocking it two times a year.”

Rawls said the only difference will be that anglers will have to abide by state fishing limits and have a fishing licence, including a trout stamp.

“It’s not just free fishing,” Rawls said. “The only thing it changes is if they catch largemouth bass they will have to throw them back. And anybody 16 and over will need to have a license for trout.”

The lake would also be open to fishing with a rod and pole only. The daily limit on trout is five and three for catfish. “One thing we do have a problem with and catch people all the time is they have those nets that they throw out there,” Rawls said. “They claim they are only trying to catch bait fish. I’ve informed Game and Fish and that will not be allowed out there.”

• The City Council unanimously passed a resolution from Arkansas Municipal League asking cities and counties to support extending a half cent sales tax permanently for highways. The tax was approved by voters in 2012 but is set to expire in 2023. Arkansas is home to the nation’s 12th largest highway system and has identified $478 million in additional road repair needs. The tax has generated $1.055 billion for ARDOT and will be on the ballot in the 2020 election.

Mayor Fogleman said the city receives about $400,000 annually from the state in street aid.

“We get 15 percent as does the county,” Fogleman said. “We have seen the benefits of those for the last six years. If it goes away we would have a drop off in our street aid and hurt us.”

• The Council voted not to hold its regularly scheduled meeting in December, but could instead meet in a special session if necessary.

• City Treasurer David Rikard reported that sale tax collections for October were down three percent, but November’s collections were better than budget by 14.8 percent and up by 5.7 percent overall. Year-todate, revenue is worse than budget by $44,000, while expenses were about $18,000 better than budget.

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