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City of Ava Honors Local Purple Heart Recipients; Finalizes Plans for Town & Country Bank Building

By Sue Curry Jones

It was an inspiring and uplifting start to the regular monthly meeting of the Ava Board of Aldermen Tuesday evening when Mayor Eddie Maggard, Ava aldermen, City Clerk Suzanne Welsh, city employees and invited guests paid tribute to the Purple Heart recipients of Douglas County.

At the onset of council meeting, Mayor Eddie Maggard signed a proclamation declaring the City of Ava a Purple Heart community –– a designation that honors veterans wounded or killed by an enemy during war, in the line of duty.

Attending the meeting Tuesday evening were two Douglas County Purple Heart recipients – Bill Henry, who served during the Vietnam War, and Adrian Owen, who served in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II.

Two members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) in Springfield, were present for the event, and they were John Dismer, Adjutant MOPH, Army combat veteran, and Paul E. Weeks, Commander, U. S. Marine Corps, 1963-1967. MOPH is a service organization comprised entirely of combat wounded veterans,

According to information from MOPH, the Purple Heart is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who are wounded by “an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy.” The medal is also awarded to those killed in action, or those who die from wounds received in action. The original heart-shaped “Badge for Military Merit” was first ordered by General George Washington in 1782; but today, after the medal was redesigned in 1931 at the request of General Douglas MacArthur, the Badge for Military Merit is now called the “Purple Heart”.

With this new designation for the City of Ava, city officials are now in the process of compiling a complete list of Purple Heart Recipients for Douglas County, and currently, the list notes the following esteemed veterans:

World War I: Jack Alsup, Monroe W. Collins, Lewis W. Heatherly, Virgil M. McMurtrey, Roy W. Tooley, Ephram Davis, Charlie Ball, James M. Brown, Willie Cornett, Zeek Hurst, John A. Moore, William O. Woodford, Earl Foster, Frank Ball, Delbert Burk, Curtis K. Denny, Willie Leroy, Burl Phillips, William E. Kester, Floyd Breckner, Claude F. Wallace, James C. Chadwell, Edgar L. Elliott, Sherman E. Jenkins, Lester R. Sutherland, Willie Freeman, Darrell Phillips, John F. Wallace, Otho Hopenwell.

World War II: Earl E. Williams, Fred Harris, Herbert M. Evans, Virgil W. Wilson, Frank Cudworth, Earl N. McIntosh, Merle Melton, Cecil Huffman, Ferdinand Gauer, Forrest O. McHolland, Lowell R. Turner, Jack Breedlove, Calvin F. Huff, Leonard Rowe, Glen V. Brown, James E. Aday, Sammy C. Cantrell, Dan Cunningham, John L. Freeman, Fred L. Lathrop, Bob L. Pettit, Lowell I. Quick, Cletis Applegate, John B. Clayton, Clarence E. Dobbs, Everett A. Hampton, Richard W. McDonald, Charles O. Pamperien, Jimmie H. Rhynes, Frank Pigg, Alva A. Cook, George F. Gettys, Lawrence V. Huffman, Jack B. McVay, Gene R. Phillips, Harley L. Stubbs, Billie Bartlett, Ova C. Cook, John F. Gott, Clifford E. Hutchison, Otis W. Nall, Lawrence E. Privett, Gene A. Wheeler, Gordon B. Shanks, Joseph Earl Bacorn, Oscar Delbert Moore, George L. (Adrain) Owen, Robert Franklin Amison, Leslie F. Everett, Walter David Glover, Norman Rippee, Charles Leon Souder, Raymond F. Sander, Benjamin M. Zirkle, Marvin J. Welch, Gene Crites, Bill Allen Roberts, David E. Knight.

Korean War: Earnest P. Bartlett, Herbert L. Gideon, Walter Ross Coble, Fred M. Ellis, James Willard Page, Charles L. Wilson.

Vietnam War: George Lakey, Lester C. McGinnis, Charles R. Rich, Henry Longston, Dale Posey, Bill Henry.

Operation Desert Storm: Craig Carter.

Anyone with information about a local Purple Heart recipient not listed above, please call city hall at 683-5516 and share the information with Suzanne Welsh, city clerk.

During closed session, aldermen voted to sell the city-owned rock building. The small office building is located at the intersection of NE 3rd Street and East Washington Avenue, on the northwest corner of the intersection. The building is now vacant, but was previously used as an office for the code enforcer, and in prior years, as an office for the Chamber of Commerce.

In another real estate transaction, the aldermen voted to amend the purchase/sale agreement with Town & Country Bank, and set the real estate closing for Monday, June 30.

The City of Ava is purchasing the Town & Country Bank building on South Jefferson Street, and has plans to relocate city offices at the site. However, in the agreement approved by council on Tuesday, the bank will have flexibility to remain in the building 45 days after the closing date.

The City is buying the building under a lease / purchase agreement with Town & Country Bank, and plans to finance $150,000 of the $200,000 purchase price. According to Administrative Director Peggy Porter, the city placed $10,000 in escrow at the initial signing of the real estate agreement, and $40,000 will be paid at closing on June 30. The remaining $150,000 will be financed in a three-year agreement with the bank, with an interest rate of 4.375%.

Motions to accept the closing date and amended contract were posed by aldermen Burrely Loftin and Keith Jones, with a 3-0 vote of approval. Aldermen David Norman and Keith Jones tendered motions authorizing the Mayor to finalize and sign the real estate closing documents. The vote was 3-0.

Council also approved a transfer for city employee Russell Fratti, who had requested a move from the maintenance department to a job opening in the wastewater treatment plant facility.

Administrative Director Peggy Porter said the public hearing for the proposed FY 2015 city budget is set for Wednesday, June 18, 10 a.m. at City Hall. At that time the budget is available and open for residents to review and question.

The budget will be recommended for approval during the June 24 council meeting. City expenditures on the proposed budget summary total $10,607,081.

Director of Development Janice Lorrain informed councilmen the City recently applied for park and recreation funds through the American Water Charitable Grant Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created by American Water, a water and wastewater utility company. Under the Building Better Communities nature-based playground grant program, Lorrain applied for a grant of $150,000.

If awarded, Lorrain said no match would be required.

Lorrain also reported Jeff Bartley, with Waters Edge Aquatic Design, had recently reviewed maintenance issues at the Ava Water Park, and upon completion of the assessment, he will issue a letter of recommen­dation for repairs. Lorrain said the maintenance needs did not appear to be too extensive.

Lorrain advised the planning and zoning commission would be recommending several changes to the city’s present portable building code, and the revisions will include where sales will be allowed. She noted the commission plans to recommend a conditional use permit option, which will allow sales in areas zoned B-3, B-4 and I-1.

Noting costs associated with the April 28 storm damage, Lorrain said the City of Ava has received a bill from Nixa for $5,650.58; a bill from Springfield for $35,501.44; and overtime for City of Ava employees cost $10,076.67. To-date, storm expenses total $51,228.69.

During the meeting, Ava Police Chief Reggie Johnson introduced Officer Dewayne Butterworth as the department’s most recent employee. Officer Butterworth, who has just completed the probationary period with the City, was officially hired Tuesday evening in a 3-0 vote.

Motions to approve were given by aldermen Keith Jones and David Norman.

After discussing a questionable culvert site near NE 5th Street and 11th Avenue, council members asked for more information and additional solutions for repairing the problem.

According to evaluations of the concrete and drainage tunnel, the original culvert has been displaced by erosion.

However, Councilman Burrely Loftin noted the walls of the culvert appear solid and strong, and for that reason, he requested the city pursue the cost and likelihood of pouring a concrete base that would support the walls on the north and south, and stabilize the base. Loftin said adding the floor would eliminate erosion, and be less costly to implement.

In 2002 the City replaced a culvert at NE 3rd for a total cost of $35,690; replacement costs for the NE 5th location are estimated to run around $45,000 – $50,000.

Prior to making a final decision, council wanted to make certain other less expensive venues were not overlooked. It was noted that funds have not been budgeted to cover the expense.

Councilmen present were Burrely Loftin, Keith Jones and David Norman. Bill Long was absent.

The council reconvenes Tuesday, June 24, at 5 p.m. at Ava City Hall.