Joe Hurst’s first city council meeting as mayor of Van Buren was a busy one, with the council passing one resolution and three ordinances while giving the go ahead for street closings and swearing in three new police officers.
The Monday night meeting began with an opening prayer by Van Buren dentist Dr. Mark Hurst, who is a deacon at Van Buren First Baptist Church and the brother of the city’s new mayor.
After swearing in new Van Buren Police Department officers Jacob DeWeese, Kyle Walter and Andy Shepherd, the council turned to the first order of business: a resolution regarding fixed asset removal.
The items on the removal list were two Exmark zero turn mowers from the Parks and Recreation Department listed at $5,280.97 and $6,000.00, respectively.
“These are 19 years old and essentially there is no value left in these, so it’s just time to get rid of them,” the mayor said. “They’ve served their purpose well.”
The resolution, which passed with a unanimous vote, authorizes the mayor and City Clerk Phyllis Thomas to remove the items from the city’s fixed asset inventory list and to dispose of them “by sealed bid, auction or other such methods authorized under the law.”
The council then moved on to the three ordinances. Each time the ordinance was read one time through before the council voted to suspend the rules and read second and third times by title only. Each ordinance also had an emergency clause attached.
The first ordinance established five ordinance posting locations and did away with the city’s responsibility of posting ordinances in the Van Buren Press Argus-Courier.
The council then approved the second ordinance, the purchase of a 2019 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab truck at the price of $21,394 from Superior Fleet and Commercial Sales of Siloam Springs.
“As you know we’re about to roll out our new SRO (School Resource Officer) positions and we bought six patrol cars for them,” said Van Buren Chief of Police Jamie Hammond. “This will just be a supplement to our SRO program. It’s mainly for the ease of moving equipment that the school resource officers use. It will make it more efficient and easier for this program and other uses within the department.”
The ordinance also waived the requirement of competitive bidding.
The ordinance passed on a unanimous vote along with the emergency clause, which was added to facilitate the purchase before the quote expired.
The final ordinance authorized a new organization be allowed to take over supervision of the Van Buren Farmers Market at Van Buren’s Freedom Park.
The move was necessitated by the fact the Farmers Market Growers Association Supervisory Committee decided to discontinue operating in the city.
As a result, Van Buren’s Main Street Market stepped in to offer supervision of the Farmers Market.
The ordinance passed on a unanimous vote. Even though the Farmers Market’s first day isn’t scheduled until April 13, the council deemed it necessary to pass an accompanying emergency clause.
The final order of business was to authorize street closings for events scheduled in the upcoming year by The Old Town Merchants Association as well as for the Crawford County’s Sheriff’s Office’s Pioneer Day Parade on Saturday, May 25.
Before adjourning, Hurst took a moment to address the council members.
“I just wanted to again say ‘Thank you,’” he said. “I look forward to working with this council and continuing to progress the city. We’ve had a lot of really good discussions since I began on Jan. 2, a lot of good things, a lot of thoughts coming from different groups, whether it’s been from the chamber or civic groups, a lot of ideas coming through. I hope we’ll see a lot of good things happen this coming year.”
Councilman Darral Sparkman, speaking to the mayor and new councilman Matt Dodson, interjected, “Do you realize how young ya’ll are? That’s good. That’s very good.”
Councilman Alan Swaim said, “I want to say how much I appreciate you and the younger aldermen that took the bull by the horns and went out and cleaned up the tornado damage. That was awesome the way you guys got that done.”
Hurst replied, “We have a great city. We have a city that cares about each other. We need to incorporate that spirit into what we do here and continue moving us forward.”
Before bringing the gavel down on his inaugural meeting the mayor said his State of the City address is scheduled for the February city council meeting.