Mayor Address to the City of Turrell
January 5, 2021
FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE
In these last few months, we have faced uncertainty and loss. I want to thank the entire city for their dedication and resilience. Each one of you has adjusted to an ever-changing environment with grace. But this is far from over, and I am confident that you all will stay the course. Moving forward and getting through these times TOGETHER is the end goal. In this address, I would like to highlight some of the most significant accomplishments of the past two years —accomplishments that were possible because of the hard work and dedication of a Council that I am proud to say I have worked with for ten years, 8 years as a council member and then the last two years as mayor.
Through the generosity of several organizations who have partnered with this city, including the federal government’s CARES Act and Senator Keith Ingram of District 24, the Hope Foundation, Mr. Gary Tobar and his organization, and our council members, the city has avoided layoffs within its current workforce and provided 3,000 food boxes to its citizens between May 30, 2020, and October 30, 2020.
City of Turrell Website - January 2020, the City of Turrell launched its website, www.cityofturrell.com
Call Em ALL - An automated calling system, Call-Em-All voice and texting service, was purchased. This system sends messages to citizens who sign up to receive notifications of school closures, job openings, church services, trash pickup, and emergencies. Our goal is to reach at least one family member in each household by the end of 2021.
Nexbillpay - Nexbillpay is an online payment and notification platform designed to address the unique business needs of rural utilities while at the same time offering security, flexibility, and value. As of January 2020, citizens can go to the city website and pay their water bills online.
Outdoor Warning Sirens - The outdoor warning sirens, known to most people as weather sirens or tornado sirens are among the most effective ways to inform the public of dangerous weather conditions and other emergencies. The outdated system is now working after replacing the old base station, controller board, and batteries, and purchasing a handheld radio receiver that will activate the alarm system anywhere within the community.
Council Salary - In February 2020, the city increased the council members’ salaries.
Virtual Justice – The city purchased the Virtual Justice program in 2019 because of the police department's revenue loss. Traffic citation can be paid online by visiting our Website at www.cityofturrell.com. Court Solutions utilizes an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Certificate. SSL provides you with the most secure encrypted protection which protects the data on the website. Keeping your data safe is our top priority.
City Handbook- The city implemented the new City of Turrell handbook in 2019.
Personnel File – The city implemented the new personnel file in 2019.
Water Meter – In July 2019, the city began installing the city of Turrell’s new water meters, which was one of several requirements by the ADEQ.
The City budget was perhaps the biggest challenge of 2019. This Council and I inherited what is arguably the most challenging budget in our city's history, and the Council and Staff responded with one of the most sweeping and productive changes in our city's history. We managed to tremendously increase the General Fund balance…
General Fund – The General Fund department’s net income for the past two years is as follows:
December 2018 $4,590.00
January 1, 2019-December 31, 2020 $25,742.00
December 31, 2020 Balance $40,861.00
The city also funded several significant enhancements, while increasing its general fund balance. They include providing funding to several departments by writing community facilities grants—in particular, the Fire Department, which has been inactive for several years. I wrote a Community Grant of $27,404.00 for new firefighter equipment for ten volunteer firefighters. Beginning in January 2021, the fire department will become active.
The CenterPoint Fund Accounting and Payroll Software program was purchased in 2020. This allows us to be more efficient and keep track of expenditures and revenue. We will implement this program in January 2021. This program will also enable the city to complete its payroll in-house rather than outsourcing it.
The Police Department – I wrote a community grant to purchase a SkyCop camera to be utilized throughout the City of Turrell in January 2021. The city was approved for a grant of $12,350.00.
Water Department - I have been working on a grant with the Arkansas Natural Resource Commission since I took office in January 2019. This grant can be used to repair the breach wastewater pond that has been breached since 2017. The last administration did not meet several requirements. I immediately started working on the list of requirements set forth by the Arkansas Natural Resource Commission as follows:
- Installed 200 new water meters
- purchased a new water utility program (CSA Software Solution),
- deposited monthly payments in the deprecation fund
- submitted a monthly water budget and a profit and lost water department monthly report
- Installed a master meter at the water pump station
The city had to request more funds because it did not have enough to meet the initial requirements. After meeting the conditions, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Commission Approved additional financial assistance in the form of a grant in an amount up to $114,040.00 on November 18, 2020. The total approved for the water, sewer, and solid waste is $459,090.00. We also have $90,000 to replace the Chlorine Injector Station. The work on the projects will begin on March 1, 2021.
Other Grants/Donations obtained in 2020 include:
- Donation to Police - $500.00 (Police Officer Supplies)
- CARES ACT Grant - $24,364.91 (Federal CARES Act Funding)
- Black Hall of Fame Foundation Grant - $500.00 (Masks for the Community)
TOTAL GRANT AND OTHER APPROVALS FOR 2020: $614,208.91
TOWN HALL MEETING - July 2, 2019, First Townhall meeting @ Williams R. Golden Community Center, Speaker: Monte Hodge, State Representative
NATIONAL NIGHT OUT - August 6, 2020, Library, 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Census Committee – A committee was organized in August 2020 to inform the community about the importance of the census to an organization.
Jericho Meeting – On November 25, 2019, I met with the mayor of Jericho to discuss a grant related to the sewer contract agreement and how we can continue to meet their needs.
East Arkansas Family Health Center, Inc. - In January 2021, the Delta Health Mobile Med will bring health care to rural communities. They will be coming to Turrell to provide various medical, dental, and pharmaceutical services.
The city will be taking action to clean up abandoned and dilapidated properties through the community to attract new businesses that offer critical services to our city. The city has identified thirty or more homeowners that are in violation. A task force will be appointed, and this task force will be responsible for beautifying our community. The tasks include:
- Cleaning up the City
- Clearing Vacant Lots
- Holding Landowners Responsible for ownership
- Encouraging local businesses to support the City of Turrell
- Creating a safe and livable community
I am working with Ms. Brenda Williams on getting a community grocery store. To this end, the council and I would be grateful if you could continue to support the Pop-Up Markets because we are trying to determine our community's needs based upon the use of the Pop-Up Markets.
We, as a city, have accomplished much. The City intends to maintain the essential services you depend on; since becoming mayor, my administration has been focused and will continue to maintain a Police Department that will protect and serve, and a Fire Department that will be 100% active and equipped to protect the community.
What we do now will define the City of Turrell for the next several years. We are moving forward into that future, and we're moving forward together. The city still has many challenges ahead. One of the challenges we face is ensuring that our city is functional – a city that is up to the task of meeting its obligations. Our city is full of possibilities…possibilities that you helped shape. And, as your mayor, I have full faith that we are up to the task. I have endeavored to take my mayoral responsibilities seriously— to set the tone and provide the leadership to ensure that the City Council works together for the city's good. I remain grateful and humbled to be your mayor. I am proud of this Council. We are genuinely working together and considering all views on the challenging issues. The result has been a governing body that has emerged as a tremendous problem-solving body that provides our city with thoughtful, quality governance. We have successfully tackled several challenging problems, and we have made remarkable progress in the past two years.
May God bless you, and May God bless the City of Turrell.