By Anita Tucker

Democrat Editor

The Clinton City Council held a special meeting Monday night to finish up some business from its June 14 meeting.

The council voted to spend up to $70,000 to move the water line off of the bridge on Highway 65 and run it under the river. The money will come from the Water Department’s infrastructure fund. The money would pay for running a 24-inch encasement for a 10-inch pipeline under Archey Fork, as well as hiring a crew to help and paying for renting some equipment. The vote was 4-0. Absent from the meeting were Councilmen Dickey Hink and Randy Churches.

The $70,000 "is a bargain," Mayor Roger Rorie said.

Water Department Manager Isaac "Zeke" Keeling said the project should begin next week. The main worry about the project is that if rain comes to the drought-stricken area, it could wash out the work in progress.

Before the motion was passed, there was some talk of what would happen if the council delayed or took no action on moving the line. Rorie said the state Highway Department would bypass Clinton on its road widening project on Highway 65 for the time being. The state, he said, would widen Highway 65 to a four-lane road all the way to the Missouri border and come back for the county when the other work was done. Work on the project is set to begin in 2013.

At the council’s regular meeting last week, Keeling reported the department’s water loss for April 11-May 10 at 16.5 percent for Clinton and 54 percent for Burnt Ridge. Keeling said water in Greers Ferry Lake is stagnant and more chlorine is being used for safety reasons.

Hink asked Keeling the status of four non-working fire hydrants. The council unanimously approved hiring someone to fix the hydrants and paying them out of the infrastructure account. All councilors were present for the regular meeting.

The council also unanimously approved paying off its part of a grant for lighting on the new ballfields. Paying it off by 2013 will cost the city $20,000 less than extending it over five years.

City Recorder/Treasurer Merl Eoff, who was record-keeping at her last regular City Council meeting, advised the council to consider appointing a budget committee. Eoff said she has "tried to save enough money to run the city for the next year," but she noted that the council has spent a quarter of a million dollars on unbudgeted projects.

"Revenues are down," Eoff said. "We don’t have the money to do like we’ve done in the past."

Rorie said he agreed that a budget committee should be considered.

In other news at the meeting, the Van Buren County Economic Development director Pete Giovannini said a company is looking at the old Volex building as a possible site. The Quorum Court voted last month to purchase the building for hospital offices, but Giovannini said the county would hold off on the purchase for a time.

Giovannini said the other building in the county that could hold a factory-type operation, the idled chicken plant, has been appraised at $2.4 million. He and Rorie both said they thought that was a bit high.

Giovannani said Gov. Mike Beebe is talking again with plant owner JBS. Giovannini said he suspects the company is holding onto the facility that has been closed since October 2008 long enough to "gut the building like they did in El Dorado."

The City Council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for July 12. All City Council meetings are open to the public.