BY MELANIE BUCK –
At the July Mena City Council meeting, the Council heard reports from several city departments and also, explanations of two proposed resolutions from local attorney Danny Thrailkill. Thrailkill first represented the Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport, filling in for Airport Manager Will Robbins who was unable to attend. Thrailkill said the new runway lighting system for Runway 17-35 is finally complete and they are satisfied with the end result. Thrailkill said the new lights will be great for those coming into the airport and that when turned on fully, they are actually too bright. He said they had to turn the new LED lights down a bit and they are much better than the pre-existing conditions.
In order to pay for the runway lights, which are part of the 40-year master plan for the airport, they applied for and obtained a State Aeronautical grant. The grant is an 80/20 match, meaning the grant will reimburse the airport for 80 percent of the costs, while the airport is responsible for 20 percent.
In order for the airport to pay the 80% so that they can be reimbursed, a resolution was presented to the City Council to approve a bridge loan through the Union Bank of Mena. The loan will be given at a 3.25 percent interest rate with a term of 90 days. The airport expects that the grant will come through before the 90-day repayment of the loan is due. The loan amount will be for 80% of the project, or $247,000. The total cost of the project was $315, 567.02, leaving the airport’s 20 percent portion at $68,567. The Council passed the resolution and it is now Resolution #1318.
Thrailkill also spoke for Mena Regional Health System while presenting a resolution to approve the acquisition of a $3.7 million bond so that the hospital can purchase Mena Medical Associates and the land that it sits on and also implement a new electronic medical records system.
The hospital has been renting the building for close to a year at a cost of $15,500 per month. When the rental agreement was signed, the hospital was given an option to purchase once the first year’s lease was up for renewal. That date is approaching quickly and Thrailkill said that the bond’s interest now sits at 4% interest and feels that interest rates will only get higher, so now is the time to approve the bond. Thrailkill also said that the bond would be paid back with hospital money, and not taxpayer money. He explained that the hospital stands on its own and does not have to seek permission from the Council but felt it would be better to have their input and approval. The Council did approve the resolution and the hospital will seek the twenty-year bond through The Stevens Group. The resolution was labeled Resolution #1317.
Resolution #1316 was passed by the Council approving the purchase of land in the Nunley area that will become a water meter reading radio tower collector site. The land comes at a cost of $6,000 plus a share of the closing costs. The land is being purchased from Johnny K. Ward.