Seven new police officers were sworn in at Monday night’s Van Buren City Council meeting.
The seven will serve as school resource officers in the Van Buren School District, giving VBSD an SRO in all 11 schools in the district.
Officers are John Neal, Micheel Stephenson, Jonathan Arredondo, Kole Horne, Michael Comstock, Brent Farley, Dylan Lairamore and Branden Blount.
Council members Alan Swaim, Darral Sparkman, Mike Kneeland, Jim Petty and David Moore voted to fund the training and equipment for the new SROs, which Mayor Bob Freeman predicted would cost the city about $100,000. Council member Tyler Wood was absent.
The school district will pay the salaries of the SROs, Freeman said.
Police Chief Jamie Hammond said the new officers have completed the first week of training with 12 more weeks to go. He said the new officers will be in their schools in March.
The VBPD provides SROs for the 10 district schools in the city limits of Van Buren. The Crawford County Sheriffs Department provides the resource officer for Tate Elementary School.
Also at Monday’s meeting, Dillon Marr was recognized for his act of heroism in helping evacuate residents from the Colonial Apartment fire earlier this month.
An Aug. 9 fire damaged 10 units of the apartment complex at 321 Jefferson St. Fire Marshal Stanley Clark said one of the tenants in the apartment where the fire started was treated for smoke inhalation at Sparks Medical Center - Van Buren hospital and released.
Freeman said Marr was on his way to work when he noticed the early morning fire, notified authorities and began knocking on doors to wake up the apartment residents.
“Dillon is a fine example of taking care of others and watching out for others,” Freeman said.
One woman was on oxygen and Marr helped her from her apartment, the mayor said.
The fire started in a unit on the second floor. Although, the official cause of the fire will be determined by investigators and insurance adjusters, Clark speculated it was possibly a cooking fire.
The council also:
• Approved changes to the city’s comprehensive pay incentive program.
• Rezoned property at 610 Baldridge Lane and 2320 Fayetteville Road from Commercial 2 to Residential 3.
• Approved the final payment of $716,392.84 to Crawford Construction Co. and other contractors for Veterans Memorial Park.
• Set a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at the city council room of the Municipal Complex for a public hearing on a request by David Benham to abandon a public alleyway in the Bouren Addition in the vicinity of Harrison Street. The planning commission will consider the request at its Sept. 5 meeting.
• Reappointed Carole Williamson to the Municipal Auditorium Commission.
• Approved the removal of certain fixed assets from the police department inventory, including two Ford Crown Victoria sedans, two radar units and two video systems.