PRAIRIE GROVE — The Oct. 17 meeting of the Prairie Grove City Council was busier than usual, with those in attendance visiting the parking lot twice, once to inspect the city’s new fire truck and another time to see retired police officer Tyler Franks receiving his last radio call.
A dozen citizens, along with council members, watched as Police Chief Chris Workman presented Franks with a plaque, a folded black flag and the service weapon he used while working for the department.
Franks, who officially retired from the police department in mid-June, was shot three times while responding to domestic disturbances on May 4, 2021, and lost part of his left leg. He returned to work for a short time, but then decided to retire from the department.
Franks’ family was present, along with several police officers, for Workman’s presentation at the meeting. Then people moved outside to watch Franks, seated in the driver’s seat of a patrol car, receive a final radio dispatch that included words of thanks for his service.
In another action, the council unanimously approved a resolution to increase the sewage treatment rate for Washington County Homeowners’ Improvement District No. 5 from $6.48 to $7.13. per 1,000 gallons, an increase of approximately 10%, effective January 1.
Subdivisions currently served in the district include Valley View Estates, Meadowsweet, Walnut Grove Acres and Saddle Brook, according to the resolution document. The processing plant is located northwest of Prairie Grove.
After the new Prairie Grove fire truck was shown in the parking lot, Fire Chief JC Dobbs reported that it was almost ready for use. Dobbs said he’s still working on a few additions and a software update. He said there were enough bond funds left over from the purchase to include a battery-powered mining tool, among other items.
City Council authorized the purchase of a new fire truck in May 2021 for up to $750,000 using bond funds.
In a text message, Dobbs said these trucks are custom built bumper-to-bumper, based on a fire department’s needs and uses for the device.
The company began building the new Prairie Grove fire truck in June in Wisconsin. It was delivered to Conway in September for further work, then delivered to Prairie Grove.
Fire trucks are generally expected to give 30 years of service, Dobbs said.
Dobbs also reported an “extremely busy” month and a continued increase in call volume, with more receptions inside the city limits than outside, a roughly 60/40 split, said he declared.
The council unanimously approved payment of an additional $24,525 to the Washington County Regional Ambulance Authority, bringing the city’s total payment for 2022 to $64,760.
Mayor Sonny Hudson said ambulance calls have increased “across the city” and no reason seems obvious for the increase.
Workman reported that the police department received a $39,200 Selective Traffic Enforcement Projects (STEP) grant, $35,000 of which will be used to pay officers for overtime during Click it or Ticket, a campaign to raise awareness about speed, distracted drivers and education DWI projects.
He also reported that the Prairie Grove Lions Club donated $500 to Trunk or Treat, and he said many businesses and entities have signed up to participate, including some from Fayetteville.
The board unanimously approved a resolution to transfer no more than $750,000 of reserve funds from the general fund into a one-year CD with Grand Savings Bank at an interest rate of 3.49 %.
The council had previously approved a CD purchase with Edward James Investments, but city administrative assistant Larry Oelrich said the company is not listed with state-licensed institutions.
According to the resolution, Hudson, Oelrich, City Clerk Christine Kelly and Assistant Clerk Melissa Dodson are authorized to make withdrawals, and two signatures will be required. Effective Jan. 1, Mayor-elect David Faulk will replace Hudson on the list of signatories.
Brea Gragg, board member and chair of the seniors’ committee, announced a $235,000 grant from the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District to improve the entrance to the seniors’ center and l buying a walk-in freezer. City attorney Steve Parker said a signing for the grant “will be coming soon.”
Chuck Wiley, director of public works, said the land was laid for a Casey’s along US 62. He said the builder told him it would be finished in 120 days.
Gragg asked if shade was provided for the outdoor activity area of the library, and there was general agreement on the need for shade. Gragg asked about planting trees, and triangular shade cloths were mentioned as a possibility.