Leader Blues

Saturday, January 02, 2010

TOP STORY >> Local officials tell New Year wishes

By JEFFREY SMITH
Leader staff writer

As the New Year began on Friday, several city leaders, school administrators and elected officials said they have more than personal resolutions for 2010. Many also have goals they want to see accomplished in their communities.

Cabot Animal Shelter manager Jason Ellerbee said his goal by summertime is “having our own spay and neuter facility. A vet would come in and perform surgeries in-house.”

Then adopted cats and dogs could be sterilized before they leave the shelter. The clinic would have to be paid for with donations and not with money budgeted for operating the animal shelter.

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said he wants Cabot’s departments to continue serving residents well “(and) understand that city government is here to meet the residents’ needs. Each department will continue finding ways to improve.”

Jacksonville public works director Jimmy Oakley also wants to have efficient city services. “My work goals are to improve and maintain quality service to residents with animal control, sanitation and street improvements,” Oakley said. On a personal level, he wants to improve his health and enjoy family and friends more.

Jacksonville Alderman Kevin McCleary said his resolution is “to totally listen to the citizens of Jacksonville, be the best alderman I can be and make sure that everybody’s voice is heard.”

Austin Police Chief John Staley said he plans improvements for the department by “upgrading equipment and continuing productivity. I want to continue our community-oriented policing philosophy, to let them know we’re here not just to write tickets, we’re here to help.”

His personal resolution is to improve his health.

“It goes along with our 911 fitness competition,” Staley said.

Beebe school superintendent Belinda Shook also wants to be healthy, and take time to exercise and eat right. Shook said her resolution for the district is, “to focus on maximizing student achievement for every student by fully implementing the interventions we have in place.”

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher said, “I’ve got a lot of wishes … to be better at my job, to learn as much as I can, to be more productive in all that I’ve got started so that the community at the end of the year will be better off, cleaner, safer, more prosperous, by the opportunities created throughout the year.

“I hope that this will be a red-letter year for the city, that we get the school district, the state fair and economic growth and development.”

Sherwood Alderman Keith Rankin said, “Bring our troops home.”

Sherwood Alderman Becki Vassar said, “My main interest is to see The Greens at North Hills opened to a crowd of clientele, and I want to see people use the facility, which is a real expansion to our parks program.”

Sherwood Alder-man Steve Fender said, “I would wish that everyone have a better year in 2010 than in 2009 and that everyone have good health. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman told The Leader she would like to “stay out of trouble.”

Cabot Alderman Tom Armstrong, who is battling brain tumors, said his resolution is to win big with the lottery. Armstrong says he buys a Powerball ticket every week and if he wins, he will use the money to help his children, his church and the American Cancer Society.

Cabot Alderman Patrick Hut-ton says he never makes resolutions, but he is resolved to take care of his health. His hope for the city is that the flooding will be under control in 2010, he said. But what he is looking forward to is the mayoral election, including former Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh and Bill Cypert, secretary and spokesman for Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission.

“I think it’s going to be an exciting race,” Hutton said.

Beebe Police Chief Wayne Ballew says he doesn’t think much about resolutions, but there are a few things he would like to change, such as stop smoking and spend more time with family and friends.

Horace Taylor, head of Beebe Animal Control, said he has no New Year’s resolutions, only gratitude for the new animal shelter he will move into in January.

“I’ve been down at the old place for five years, and I don’t know how I stood it,” Taylor said. “It will be so nice to move into a place with heat and air and a warm place for my dogs to stay.”

The city’s new animal shelter cost about $150,000 and was built mostly with city money.

Austin Mayor Bernie Chamberlain doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions.

“I can’t keep them, so I don’t make them,” Chamberlain said.

But what she wants in 2010 is a school built in Austin. She also wants the traffic light that has been approved for Austin with the federal government paying 80 percent, the state 10 percent and the city 10 percent. She said she also is looking forward to the completion of a $1.2 million water project.

Jacksonville Alderman Bill Howard wants everyone in Jacksonville to have a very prosperous new year. “We’ve got a good city government here and it will do all it can to make 2010 a good year.”

Also being a big Razorback fan, Howard also hopes the basketball team will win some games in 2010.

Alderman Linda Rinker echoed Howard’s thoughts. “I want Jacksonville to have a very good year. I’m excited about our new mayor and the enthusiasm of our council and I’m looking forward to a good 2010.”

Leader staff writers Nancy Docktor and Joan McCoy contributed to this article.