BY MELANIE BUCK –
A bulk water rate increase was approved by Mena City Council at their monthly meeting, held Tuesday, January 12, at City Hall, while consumer rates for Mena are expected to stay at or near the same. Bulk water is sold by Mena Water Utilities to three rural water associations, Acorn Rural Water, Freedom Rural Water, and Rural Water District #17 out of LeFlore County, Oklahoma. The rates were increased to $2.78 per 1,000 gallons from the previous rate of $2.46 per 1,000 gallons.
Mena Water Utility Manager Charles Pittman said for Mena Water Utility consumers, rates are increased along with the consumer price index, which has not yet been released but will be soon. Pittman expects that any increase would be minimal.
Also at the City Council meeting, A&P Commissioner Terri Neugent reported that tax revenues from restaurant and lodging taxes increased last month, and said it is likely contributed to tourists coming the see the area’s fall foliage.
Resolution #1234 was approved that will cancel a contract between the City and Healthy Connections, Inc. (HCI). The original contract gave HCI a 99-year lease for property at Aubrey Tapley Park to build their facilities. However, HCI was later able to purchase their current property and built there instead, therefore, the city released HCI from the lease.
Mena Police Chief Brandon Martin reported to the Council that his department made 30 arrests and worked 21 accidents during the month of December. Martin also reported 1,676 volunteer hours were donated by ten reserve officers in 2015. Also during the year, full-time Mena officers received more than 500 hours of training, while the reserves received 560 hours.
More than 100 surgeries were performed at Mena Regional Health System during the month of December and CEO Jay Quebedeaux expects the arrival of new Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Tariq will increase additional surgeries in the coming months. The hospital also had 144 admissions, 658 visits to the emergency department, and delivered 27 babies.
The next Mena City Council meeting will be held on February 9th, at Mena City Hall.