City & County

City directors talk Feaster Trail work, finance fire truck, talk tornado sirens

The Arkadelphia Board of Directors listens to City Manager Gary Brinkley, right, during a meeting Tuesday, April 4. Pictured, from left, are City Clerk Samantha Roybal, Ward 1 Director Taylor Chaney, Ward 3 Director Keith Crews, Mayor Scott Byrd, Assistant Mayor Roland Gosey, and Ward 4 Director Reo Cummings. Present but not pictured is Ward 5 Director Jason Jones. | Joel Phelps/The Arkadelphian

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

The Arkadelphia Board of Directors met Tuesday with a full agenda, with many questions about the items brought before them. Ward 2 Director Chris Porter was absent, leaving a quorum of six members.

Arkadelphia Arts Center lease renewed

Directors agreed to renew the city’s annual contract with the Clark County Arts & Humanities Council. The organization leases, at no cost, the old Royal Theater at 625 Main St. in downtown Arkadelphia.

Directors questioned Claudia Beach, who represented the council, about potential uses for the facility in addition to art exhibits and receptions. Beach, a retired theatre director at Henderson State University who is  involved with Arkadelphia Little Theatre, said she and her peers have dreams of using the former cinema as a performance space, but there is electric work needed among other projects before it’s possible.

Ward 3 Director Keith Crews opened the discussion when he said a similar old theatre in Grapevine, Texas, is a downtown attraction during the holidays as it is used to show Christmas movies. City Manager Gary Brinkley agreed that theatre performances would add to the city’s quality of life.

Unfinished Feaster Trail work to resume

A portion of Feaster Trail that was part of a rehabilitation project to replace existing asphalt with concrete will be finished by a contractor other than the original company.

Barry Walker’s All-Pro Contracting Inc. finished all but 600 feet of the project before Walker’s 2022 arrest for raping multiple adolescent females. 

The city terminated its contract with All-Pro. The good news for the city is that the project wound up $107,460 shy of reaching its budget. A new contractor, the Arkadelphia-based Mar-Von Corp., submitted the lone bid of $40,000 to pick up where All-Pro halted work, leaving $67,000 to spend on that project.

Directors voted to apply $50,000 of the remaining leftover funds to an existing ArDOT grant to be used for a second phase of trail work between 15th and 26th streets.

READ MORE: Directors to consider widening Feaster Trail (May 2022)

Fire truck financing

The board voiced unanimous approval to finance slightly more than half the cost of a custom-built $957,272 fire truck. The city received two bids, from Citizens Bank and Southern Bancorp, with the latter institution offering a lower interest rate and winning the bid.

The city is paying $457,272 up front from three years of savings of Move Arkadelphia Forward tax revenue.

Crews inquired whether the city had the funds available for the length of the five-year loan; Brinkley said it did. Mayor Scott Byrd applauded the city treasurer for financing half the cost of the truck.

On Tuesday evening the fire engine was en route to Conway for a final inspection before its arrival at Arkadelphia Fire Department Station 1. The department will conduct employee training on the vehicle before it is deployed for official use.

READ MORE: City to consider purchase of new fire truck (January 2022)

MLK Memorial Park update

Assistant Mayor Roland Gosey, who chairs the committee behind the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, at the site of the old Clark County Memorial Hospital, provided an update on the park following a recent meeting of the committee.

Park supporters are hoping to raise $2.5 million to build the park. With $325,000 now available, Gosey reported the committee agreed to hold off on beginning work and instead “go full throttle” once full funding is available.

The committee, he said, also wished to “reaffirm the commitment” of head fundraisers Fitz Hill and Mitch Bettis. The committee “remains optimistic” about the park, and Gosey urged fellow supporters to remain patient, prayerful and persistent. To donate, visit

READ MORE: MLK Park panel talks funding, future (March 2023)

Accounting software purchase gets nod

Directors also resumed previously tabled discussion about an accounting software package that administration proposed to purchase. The Tyler Technology package comes with a startup cost of $130,000, with an annual fee thereafter of $53,000.

The Texas-based company boasts 40,000 installations in 13,000 locations, including 35 in Arkansas.

A representative of the company fielded multiple questions about efficiency, licensing, current hardware capability, employee training and security. The package is promised to simplify accounting practices and unify the software currently used by each city department, including water utilities. 

Funding for the first year will come from $88,000 budgeted and $42,000 from undesignated surplus.

Byrd asked if the city would be able to afford to renew the subscription annually if the 1-cent Move Arkadelphia Forward sales tax fails. Brinkley was blunt in his response, saying it would potentially mean the layoff of a city employee or discontinuing a program. However, he cautioned, “in hard times [the city] needs to be as efficient as we can.” There was also discussion of whether franchise fees could be used to continue the contract after the initial purchase.

Director Crews seemed hesitant about proceeding with the purchase, inquiring about the urgency of acting on the software contract. It was at Crews’ behest that the board had tabled discussion during its previous meeting. Brinkley said it would behoove the board to move forward with the purchase as the treasurer is currently doing most of her work using spreadsheets.

The board ultimately voted 6-0 in favor of the purchase.

Tornado sirens/Safe Room talk/Tax sunset

In other business, directors:

• Heard Brinkley report that easements continue to be acquired for the Arkadelphia Bypass and widening of Pine Street

• Heard Gosey inquire about concerns of residents being unable to hear tornado sirens; Brinkley said his ultimate goal is to move away from sirens in favor of ClarkArk Alerts, a cell phone emergency notification system

• Learned that the Community Safe Room is opened once an Arkadelphia policeman is instructed to unlock the facility when severe weather is imminent

• Were unable to provide NAACP president Bruce Bell an answer regarding when the Move Arkadelphia Forward tax sunsets. The tax sunsets on Dec. 31, 2025.