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Airport Improvements, Street Renaming Project to Begin Soon; Council Hires New Police Officer

By Sue Curry Jones

Mayor David Norman provided several project updates during the Ava Board of Alderman meeting on Tuesday, April 25.

With the renaming of city streets, and the airport expansion project, two big projects now in the works for the City of Ava, Norman says both projects are moving forward and the work will start very soon.

Airport construction is scheduled to begin mid-May, with the runway expansion work set for completion within a 30-60 day period. Currently, the city is waiting for contracts to be returned from state agencies.

Norman said proposed changes to street names and addresses have been finalized with the Ava Post Office, and even though there is more work to be done, a better timeline will be announced once the Kansas City office has certified the street maps. When the final steps are completed, it is estimated June 1 will be the official start of the project which will be implemented in stages.

Ava Fire Chief Tom Woods pro-vided city officials with an update on the City of Ava’s fire rating and his intentions to strive for a lower ISO rating (Insurance Services Offices).  At present, the city has an ISO rating of seven, and Woods noted in past years the City rated a six, and he would like to regain that status or better, as the ISO not only impacts the city’s insurance rates, but also the insurance rates for resident owners.

According to Woods, several factors determine an ISO rating, and those items include fire alarm and communication systems, such as telephone systems, telephone lines, and dispatching; standards placed on fire equipment, staffing, training, and geographic distribution of fire com-panies; adequate water-supply, including condition and maintenance of fire hydrants; and passing an evaluation to determine the amount of available water needed to suppress fires.

Woods noted department pumper trucks are aging, with one truck 40-years-old. He said a new truck and equipment would have a positive impact on the ISO rating, however, he was not asking for a new truck, but suggesting the idea for consideration.  Today, a brand new Class A pumper truck costs around $230,000; a used Class A truck, $200,000, and new air packs, $6,000 each.

The Pierce pumper truck presently in use, Woods said, is non-compliant due to jump seats in the back of the vehicle, which by regulation, cannot be used because they are not enclos-ed.  The truck is a 1989 model.

The mayor and council advised Woods to present a list of items that need changing.   Councilman Burrely Loftin asked if making changes will in fact guarantee a better rating for the district.  Councilman Keith Jones asked for more information about the rating process, and if records from 1999, when the rating changed from a six to seven, could be accessed to provide insight as to the reasons.

At present, the fire department has a roster of 15 volunteers, including Woods.  In his comments, Woods advised that the effort could drop insurance rates by 8-12%.

In closed session, council voted to hire Justin Brumble, of Hartville, as a police officer for the City of Ava.  According to City Clerk Suzanne Welsh, Police Chief Reggie Johnson presented several applicants and Brumble was the most qualified candidate.  Councilmen Keith Jones and Burrely Loftin tendered motions to hire, and the vote was 4-0 in favor.

Council also discussed a litigation issue, and two real estate offers, but no actions were taken.

Mayor Norman advised the city was recently notified that the lower playground area at the city park poses an insurance problem, as the pea gravel at the play station is no longer approved and must be replaced.  He said South Central Ozark Council of Governments (SCOCOG) is working on a grant for tire mulch, and if the award comes through, it would be timely to enlarge the area to create one large play space rather than two divided areas.

Norman said he is also looking at the Healthy Schools Healthy Com-munity grant to assist with buying updated playground equipment.

Three bids for landscaping City Hall were again presented to council, with Norman stating he would contact the contractors next week to verify amounts are still valid.   Three bids had been discussed last year in September, and at that time bid esti-mates were:  Zach Uhing, $8,800; Wickman Gardens, $34,571.91, and Spirit of Nature Landscaping of Mansfield, $20,645.  Norman asked councilmen to review the drawings, as he would like to make a decision next month.

At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Norman honored Peggy Porter, administrative director for the City of Ava, by presenting her with a gift acknowledging her 32-years with the City.  On behalf of council, he thanked her for her service.

Norman said incorrect comments are being circulated about the city’s electricity rates and services; con-sequently, he has provided an update to local real estate agents, in a letter, citing facts about City of Ava electric rates and amenities.  The letter reads as follows:

“This letter is to inform you of things inside the City of Ava.  We must remember that our county only has one town and the more we do for the town, the better the whole county becomes.

“First of all, our electrical rates are now being stated in the same manner as White River Electric and others around us that sell electricity.  The City of Ava electrical rate for residential home is: $22.00 customer fee and a kilowatt rate of 0.0945 to 0.100.  White River rates are now:  $31.00 administration fee plus a kilowatt rate of 0.10256.  As you can see, the city’s electrical rates are less than the rural electric rates.  Once a customer is on White River Electric they cannot be changed to City of Ava nor can the City of Ava be changed to White River Electric.

“Secondly, the city of Ava does not have a property tax.  People inside the city limits only pay a Douglas County property tax as do the county residents.

“Third, the City of Ava provides police and fire protection, street maintenance, and brush and rubbish removal free of charge.  Our trash service is less in the city than for those outside the city.

“We are working diligently to make things better for the City of Ava and Douglas County.  If anyone has questions regarding our city, please come into City Hall or please call.           Sincerely, David Norman”

The Ava Board of Aldermen will reconvene on Tuesday, May 9, at 5:00 p.m. in the meeting room at City Hall. Meetings are open to the public.

Meeting video may be viewed on the Douglas County Herald website.