Leader Blues

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TOP STORY >> Mayor will miss running city

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams, who is not running for re-election, gave his last state of the city address during the Tuesday night council meeting saying the past three years have been the best years of his life.

Although Williams is running for state Senate, he said he will continue to work for the city as long as he is in office.

“It is my job to maintain the public’s trust and confidence that we are doing the best for Cabot with the means we have available to us. I believe we have accomplished this task, and my commitment to you is that we will continue down that road the rest of my term as mayor,” he said. “I took forward to an exciting final year in office and pledge to you that I will work my hardest for you until the day I leave office.”

From the tornadoes in 2008 to heavy rains in 2009, the weather has been one of the biggest challenges of his administration, Williams said.

“All of this water brought flooding to areas that never flooded in the past and extra problems to areas that typically flood,” Williams said.

But since the $30 million solution outlined in an engineering study was not feasible, Williams said, “We had to look at our drainage situation from a different perspective, and I believe we have made a significant amount of progress with a much smaller price tag.

“We applied for four small drainage grants from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. We have received approval letters for three of these projects and have two of them completely finished.

“They have already made a marked difference in the drainage in these areas, and we look forward to continuing to work on these projects as much as possible to help as many flood areas as we can with the available funds.

“We also applied for a large project through FEMA to help the Cabot Highlands, and we are currently awaiting approval of our application. This project is estimated to cost around $800,000 and is an 80/20 split with the city.

“There are still several flooding issues in Cabot, but we have made great strides and will continue to work hard to help as many of these areas as possible,” the mayor said.

Williams talked about improvements in technology that have made city hall accessible to residents without leaving their homes and about setting up a system for paying wages and salaries that includes a serious evaluation program for raises.

He talked about the good working relationships he has helped develop with county, state and national leaders and the importance of setting aside money for projects that will need funding after he is no longer mayor.

“Some of the projects we are planning for are the north interchange, Cabot Highlands flooding project, Veterans Park Community Center expansion, and equipping a new fire station. We must plan for these expenses now rather than wait until the day we need the money,” he said.

“The north interchange will require approximately $2 million to $4 million from the city of Cabot, so we must prepare now to have that money available when we are given the go ahead to start this project.

“We have worked diligently with our congressional representatives to get funding for this project, and we will continue to work on this project to my last day in office, and hopefully until it is finished,” the mayor said.

In other business, the city council passed a resolution reappointing Roger Tonnessen to the parks commission and read an ordinance that, if passed, will allow the city to place liens on property to collect unpaid bills for mowing yards.