Police & Fire

New traffic signal on Pine gets green light

By Joe May
The Southern Standard

In a brief session Tuesday evening, the Arkadelphia Board of Directors approved another traffic light on West Pine Street.

City Manager Gary Brinkley told the board that plans call for a traffic light to be added at Professional Park Drive once that street is extended out to meet Pine Street when the bypass is constructed. The agreement calls for the city to provide maintenance and electricity for the light as well as existing lights at 10th and Caddo streets and at 10th and Henderson streets. The latter two lights will be replaced or modified as part of the highway project.

In other business related to the Pine Street project, Brinkley recommended the board approve a $443,000 engineering contract with Crist Engineers for work along Pine Street relating to the water and sewer relocation in preparation for the widening of that roadway. At the motion of Ward 3 Director Keith Crews and Ward 1 Director Taylor Chaney, the motion carried.

Arkadelphia Schools to get additional school resource officer

Directors then turned their attention to a request for a third school resource officer to go between Perritt and Peake elementary schools.

Due to supply issues, Brinkley noted that Police Chief Jason “Shorty” Jackson has money in his budget for the SRO position until the end of the year. Half the amount, $24,000, will be paid for by the city while the school district will pay the remaining $24,000 to match the officer’s salary.

In response to a question from Assistant Mayor Roland Gosey, Jackson said the primary duties of an SRO are to mentor students, de-escalate situations, provide security and instruct teachers in school safety issues. He noted that in light of recent school safety concerns nationwide, the officers have specialized training for school security.

In addition, the chief said an officer’s presence helps students to learn to feel comfortable with law enforcement officials. To that end, he told the board that he has plans to implement a policy in which each four-man shift will do a daily walk-through of the school. Not only will this allow officers to be familiar with each campus, it will help them to develop a rapport with students.

“This is noting but a positive for us,” Ward 5 Director Jason Jones said.

Mayor Scott Byrd agreed, noting that having officers routinely visiting school campuses allows students to become familiar with policemen in a “non-threatening way.” In a voice vote, the measure passed.

In other business, Brinkley told directors that the city has received a $300,000 grant from the state to complete the drainage project on Haddock Street. The total cost of the project will be $669,500 before the grant is applied, he said.

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