Bald Knob Mayor Barth Grayson gave his state of the city speech at the end of the City Council meeting Monday night, saying he was “proud to keep everyone working throughout the city, not just in the street department but in every department” despite the COVID-19 pandemic and that city was just “blessed.”
Grayson said the city sales tax revenue has been about the same during the virus outbreak and restrictions, and he called that “unbelievable.” Bald Knob did get $114,777 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act that the city used for payroll reimbursement.
He said he was really pleased with every department head and every employee that the city has. “That is so important because we have to take care of the people who take care of us.”
Every city department stayed within its budget in 2020, according to Grayson.
Grayson said hopefully Parks and Recreation will have a more normal year this year after canceling its ball seasons last year because of COVID-19.
“Parks and Recreation is like the school, it’s the heartbeat of our community,” he said.
The city replaced several feet of culvert on Center Street and will continue to work on corrosion problems there “even more this year,” Grayson said. He also mentioned cleanup work that was done in the Bald Knob Lakeview Park project.
“We have had the Victory Life guys come out and work several days for us,” and some of the prisoners from Newport also have helped out with this project, he said. Quite a few community service people who have worked on this project were also recognized by Grayson.
The White County Road Department, Grayson said, worked with the city as well to clean out ditches during 2020.
“They just finished cleaning out the ditch from Strawberry Street to Elm Street,” he said. “That job is completed but they are continuing to take that all the way out to ditch 13 that goes ultimately into the Little Red River.”
Concerning water and sewer projects, Grayson said one side of the levee has been rebuilt at the water treatment facility. “We finished our wastewater construction project out there in 2020.”
Online payments of water bills was also lauded by Grayson. He said it has been a positive for the workers there and was a lot more efficient. The purchase of a printer for the water department was brought up as a good thing that happened as well. “We had to have that to print out the postcards you get your bill on.”
Bald Knob did “very well” on the water treatment sanitary surveys from the Arkansas Department of Health, Grayson noted.
Smoke testing of the sewer system was completed in 2020. Grayson called this a major, major thing for Bald Knob. He said the important thing was that the city got a thumb drive of the tests.
Turning to the Bald Knob Volunteer Fire Department, Grayson said the city received $20,000 in grants by having a certified fire department.
“We were able to get a new fire pump for the brush truck and the fire department purchased two acres of property that we were talking about that the Hoffman Architectural firm will help us get ready for when we build our new fire station on the north side at the Bald Knob industrial property,” he said. “It will be a four-bay fire station with an office. That’s tremendous for a city of our size.”
Grayson remembered that in February2020, Kevin Smith started as the city’s code inspector. “Several cleanup projects were accomplished,” Grayson said. “We also plan on focusing on our business permits, getting some advice from the city of Searcy.”
“I am proud to be the mayor of Bald Knob. We have accomplished a lot of things. We have plans to accomplish a lot more,” he said. “We have had a good partnership with the Foothills Lane of Lights. Ms. Ruby [Suviaz] has a five-year plan. We have had many, many compliments from that [the annual Christmas light display in Bald Knob].”
As 2021 is getting started, Grayson said he is looking forward to seeing the economic development committee working with the Bald Knob Chamber of Commerce promoting the city and trying to bring more people into the community. “Because of the COVID, there’s a lot of people trying to relocate now. It’s unbelievable how many people are relocating from the big cities.”