Jonesboro City Council approves panic button, accepts council member resignation

by Michael Wilkey ([email protected]) 198 views 

City employees will have a new way to protect themselves in case of an emergency, while a council member announced his resignation Tuesday. Council Member Tim McCall, who serves in Ward 6, Position 1, announced at the end of the meeting his resignation.

McCall, who has served on the council since 1999, is moving out of his ward. City officials thanked McCall for his years on the council and his work on the city’s barbecue contest. The contest began as part of the 150th anniversary of the founding of Jonesboro. Since then, the contest has become part of the Kansas City Barbecue Society.

McCall’s term expires in January 2019. City Clerk Donna Jackson said state law allows the vacancy to be filled by appointment or special election. However, there is a consensus among council members that the appointment route may be taken, Jackson said. The appointment would be handled by the council’s Nominations and Rules Committee, then sent to the full council for approval.

If the special election route is taken, a stand-alone election would be held later this year.

BUTTON APPROVED

The Public Safety Committee and the council approved a plan to add a panic button system for city hall. Police Chief Rick Elliott said the system, similar to one used in schools around the state, is an app related system that allows an employee to push a button for help. The system, approved by the legislature in the 2015 session, can be set up on cell phones and iPhones, notifies police within seconds if an emergency happens.

The system will be used at the Jonesboro Municipal Center and will be the first city in the state to use the system, Elliott said. The new system will not cost the city anything, Elliott said, noting Rave Mobile Safety is working to place the system in a city.

NEW RIDE FOR MAYOR
The council also approved an ordinance, waiving competitive bidding and purchasing for a 2016 GMC Yukon XL from Cavenaugh Auto Group in Jonesboro for $64,893.79. The vehicle will be used by Mayor Harold Perrin. Under the deal, a 2013 Chevrolet Suburban worth $45,393.79 will be traded in by the city.

Perrin said the Suburban, which has about 50,000 miles on it, is used to travel on city business. The SUV can hold up to six people and Perrin said the vehicle can carry multiple city employees.

“It saves on not having to send another vehicle,” Perrin said.

However, a man who attended the meeting questioned the expenditure.

“What’s the hurry?” Phillip Cook asked Perrin and the council.

Perrin responded the purchase was needed and that the purchase will take effect in 30 days.

A copy of the agenda for the meeting also included an emergency clause, which would have made the purchase effective immediately. However, the council agreed not to consider the emergency clause.

In other action, the council voted to amend the city’s 2016 budget to include funding for several departments. The amended ordinance included $24,000 for a second pickup truck for the animal control department; $33,787 for an office manager in the city clerk’s office, $600 for Adobe software, $735 for Legistar; and adding $6,000 to purchase a sports utility vehicle for the city’s 911 system.

Perrin also presented a proclamation to members of the Arkansas State University women’s volleyball team. The team won the Sun Belt conference tournament and regular season championship, as well as went to the NCAA volleyball tournament. The team was also honored with its own week from Jan. 18-23.

The council voted to allow former grants administrator Heather Clark to conduct business with the city. Perrin said the ordinance was housekeeping in scope due to Clark serving on two city boards.