Have the days of the new administration and the Board of Aldermen for the Town of Jonesboro playing “nice” come to an end? Or was the exchange of sparks that used to dominate the regular monthly session held on Tuesday just a one time thing? Only time will tell.
What did surface was a heated discussion between Alderman Devin Flowers and Mayor James “Spike” Harris that opened the meeting and Mayor Harris admonishing the audience to conduct themselves in an orderly manner toward the end.
Prior to the meeting that took place at the Charles H. Garrett Community Center a Public Hearing was held allowing the public to make comments on a proposed Amendment to the Budget. At issue was the moving of American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds that were designated by Ordinance 2022-004 and 2022-005 last year to the General Budget. This was recommended so funds would be made available for the Town of Jonesboro to enter into an agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management for the leasing and maintenance of town’s fleet of vehicles.
Jay Mallard, owner of Jay Mallard Ford was the only one to express a comment, stating that he has had a working relationship with Enterprise for several years.
“Our dealership has working with Enterprise over the last six years to provide maintenance on their lease managed vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department of Winn, Union and Lincoln Parishes, as well as, the Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Office over the past three years and the Jackson Parish Police Jury for the last two,” said Mallard. “I came tonight to be available to answer any questions the Council may have regarding their program.”
After a couple of items involving the lease program was discussed, Mallard concluded by saying that working with Enterprise has been an enjoyable experience.
“Enterprise has been good to work with,” continued Mallard. “They keep good records, and is prompt about scheduling maintenance when needed.”
As soon as the regular session began, the tenure of the meeting changed. Before the Board was asked to approve the published Agenda, Alderman Flowers made a motion that an addition to the Agenda be made to provide the Council with the contracts that the town had entered into with the Town CPA, City Attorney, Interim Public Works Director and Labor Finders.
“I asked for this at the last meeting to be included on the Agenda this time but I see that it has still not been included so I am requesting again that this be brought to the Council,” said Flowers.
Immediately Jonesboro Mayor James “Spike” Harris responded that Councilman Flowers had been told last meeting that if he wanted to review these all he had to do was come by City Hall and they would be made available.
Flowers then said that wasn’t what he requested to have done and repeated that he wanted this put on the agenda. Discussion went back and forth with Harris finally calling for an end of discussion and asking for a second on the motion made Flowers followed by requesting a Point of Order reply a couple of times but was denied. The motion was then died for lack of receiving a second.
Following was the tabling of the next two items on the agenda. The first item involved the approval of Ordinance 2023-001, which was in reference to entering into an agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management. At issue was was the fact that was brought forward by Alderman Flowers that the Council could not move forward with this agreement as after he reviewed the tapes of the last meeting he discovered that no one had seconded the motion to amend the two Ordinances but instead it had gone straight to a vote. The Board then agreed to table the item until this could be verified.
Approval of the minutes of the Special Meeting that was held on March 28th, when the disputed actions that led to the first tabling took place was also tabled until a review of the meeting could be had.
Board members Flowers, Robert Hunter, Robbie Siadek, Nia Evans-Johnson and James Ginn then adopted Resolution 2023-013 regarding the Lead Service Line Replacement Grant and a request for a mobile home to be approved that was submitted by Daniele Thompson.
Compliance Officer, Wayne Anderson, then informed the council that numerous complaints had been received regarding stray dogs and his department was working with the Jackson Parish Police Jury to get this issue resolved. Filling in for acting Fire Chief Aaron Blalock who was absent, Anderson then reported that the Fire Department held several training classes and responded to 43 EMS, 3 fire alarm calls and 8 vehicular accidents of which one had fatalities during the past month.
Assistant Police Chief Warren Johnson then requested that Courtney Harris, John Bradley Jr. and Damarrion Livingston be hired as part time officers which received approval and reported that $6,441.00 in revenue from citations had been gained. This was followed by a report from the Public Works Department where it was said that water pressure over the town had improved as several leaks in the lines had been repaired and that the Dept. was working on cleaning out ditches to help with drainage issues as weather permits.
This led to closing comments by the council when a spectator made an utterance from the audience drawing the ire of Mayor Harris.
“Let me make it clear that any further disturbances from the audience during our meeting will be met with that person being arrested,” said Harris. “I also want it be known that if anyone ever confronts a council member after a meeting again they will also be arrested.”
The final statement was in reference to verbal blow ups between a couple of council members and those in the audience after the March meeting.