City & County

Fitz Hill hopeful US Bank to sponsor MLK park

By Joe May | The Southern Standard

Retiring Code Enforcement Officer Thomas Free was congratulated upon his Aug. 31 retirement at Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Arkadelphia Board of Directors.

Police Chief Jason “Shorty” Jackson presented a resolution allowing Free to keep his badge and service pistol, a Glock 19, the first officer to request it since the city began issuing weapons three years ago. At the motion of directors Chris Porter and Taylor Chaney, the motion carried.

Directors praised Free’s 12 years of service to the city, with Vice-Mayor Roland Gosey saying, “I hope your replacement is just like you.” Director Jason Jones thanked Free for “always being responsive to my phone calls and texts. I have admired the way you handled yourself with the public.”

Porter echoed that statement, noting that “people think of you as kind.”

“It’s a thankless job,” Chaney added, “and you did it very well.”

Free worked for 37 years in law enforcement.

Fitz Hill, co-chair of the MLK Park committee, told the board he is hoping to bring US Bank on as a cornerstone sponsor. Hill said he has spoken with market president Mike Richardson about donating the bank’s former downtown headquarters to the city, which could then be sold after two years and the money applied to the park. The $1.1 million building would be used as collateral for a loan to begin construction on the park.

In addition, Hill said he is looking at grants and he is challenging all AHS classes from 1970-2022 to donate $10,000 each. Thus far, two classes have reached the goal, he said.

Fitz Hill is part of the committee responsible for making the MLK Memorial Park a reality for Arkadelphia residents. | The Arkadelphian/Joel Phelps

Other business
• Directors approved a $563,637 agreement with Crist Engineers for utility design on Pine Street, with the state paying 72% of the costs.

• A $563,112.64 agreement with Crist was approved for utility design for the Arkadelphia Bypass project.

• City Manager Gary Brinkley said utility relocation on Pine Street will begin on March 24, 2023.

• A master service agreement was approved allowing B&F Engineers to conduct drainage system work.

• Directors approved an ordinance updating the city’s flood plain plans.

• Ward 1 Director Taylor Chaney said residents of Ouachita Hills want a 15 mph speed limit enacted to prevent speeding.

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