Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

TOP STORY >>Williams reflects on job so far

Leader staff writer

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams ate potluck at the Cabot Senior Citizen Center with about 50 AARP members Monday night and gave them an update on his first six months in office — what he has accomplished and what he’s still working on.

By tweaking the timing of the lights and adding lanes, traffic is better than it was and he’s working to make it better still, Williams said. Construction of the new railroad overpass should start this summer. And he has the promise of $1 million in federal money from Cong. Marion Berry (D.-Ark) for preliminary work on a north interchange.

Cabot is in line for an $8 million National Guard readiness center if the city can find land to donate, he said, and he’s trying to get a second post office. Since the city isn’t making any major purchases this year; the budget is finally under control.
And though it has not progressed past the talking stage, Williams says he believes it’s time Cabot, Austin and Ward started thinking regionally when it comes to parks and industry.

A starting place for a regional park would be the old city landfill at the end of Willie Ray Drive. Williams is making arrangements to bring in state prisoners this summer to build a walking track there. Williams told the AARP members that what’s good for the area is good for Cabot. Industry doesn’t have to be inside the city limits for Cabot to benefit from it. Since half the population in Lonoke County lives in Cabot, Austin and Ward, they should be working together for the good of everyone.

“Isolation doesn’t work for anyone,” he said. A $250,000 voluntary payment from Cabot WaterWorks in January got the city through William’s first month in office but since then, he has managed to tuck away about $50,000 a month that doesn’t have to be used to pay bills.

“I think we’ve turned the corner on the budget,” he said, adding, “We still don’t have even a month’s overhead in the bank.”
Williams received a round of applause for the improved traffic flow and a few nods of agreement over the need for a second post office.

But older residents often have limited mobility and one woman wanted to know when the city intends to build sidewalks that she can push her mother’s wheelchair a full city block without being forced to get in the street. Williams responded that $60,000 is budgeted for sidewalks in 2007.

Another member asked if the city will spray mosquitoes this year and the mayor answered that the city will spray some, but not as much as in the past.

The spray is not environmentally friendly, he said. City workers avoid spraying on subdivision streets especially where children are playing. Instead, the city is targeting the mosquito larvae by tossing “donuts” that form a skim over standing water and keep the young insects from hatching.

Williams encouraged his audience to play an active part in mosquito control by getting rid of old tires and cleaning birdbaths at least twice a week.

“Wash them out while you’re watering flowers,” he suggested.