Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

It was noted that the Sentinel Record front-page report of the last city board meeting referred to commenters on the city’s water policy as “detractors.” In fact, these so-called, “detractors” were explaining that the city continues to violate the Arkansas Constitution and specific court rulings by not allowing water connections in the county while encouraging connections within the city. Consent order 93-1639 clearly states, “Resolution 2821 and City policies and actions resulting therefrom violated Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of Arkansas in that citizens’ rights to vote on annexation to the City were impaired and forfeited by these practices of the City.” Further, “The Defendants (city) is now estopped from requiring property owners to either annex to the City or promise to do so in the future in order to obtain city water and sewer service.” The entire court order may be seen at www.ggggnews.com. In view of the fact that the public was not informed of this court order and the city’s continuous violations possibly including “contempt of court” and the likelihood of de-annexation of all properties illegally annexed, a press conference was held this week to properly enlighten the public.

Former JP, chairman of Criminal Justice Committee, and member of the city/county water committee, Bud West chaired the conference. West explained how the city is in violation of this court order and how the city’s actions are having a “devastating impact” of the growth of the County. State Senator Alan Clark, Representative Mickey Gates, and County Judge Rick Davis also reiterated impacts of this court order.

State Representative Cozart presented a draft bill which requires all future city annexations have a vote of the citizens in accordance with Ark. Code 14-40-303.

The city attorney’s insinuations and diversionary comments relative to the court order are interesting. His reference to another case against the city that was won on appeal to the State Supreme Court are nonsense in that the Supreme Court Order (2009 Ark. 276, No. 08-611) itself states, “The issue in the Burchwood litigation was annexation. The issues in the present case concern sewer rates and debt-service charges.” The Burchwood reference is to Consent Order 93-1639. This means that in 2009, the Supreme Court recognized that the two cases were NOT related and neither has an impact on the other. The city attorney’s statement that he “has disagreements” with the court order have no relevance. It matters not what his opinion is. His job is to see that the city complies with the law including court rulings the city agreed to.

The bottom line is simple. The city directors need to stop taking actions that greatly impact the citizens without giving them a voice and a vote. The directors also need to reverse their illegal and discriminatory water policy and provide water service to all who apply.

Yet another solution to the problem is voting those incumbent law violators out of office, especially the inflexible leader of the pack from district 6, Randy Fale.

Bob Driggers

Hot Springs, Arkansas

 

 

 

 

What is your City Board doing, Hot Springs?

Hot Springs, AR – October 25, 2016

In this country, citizens have the right to vote on issues affecting their welfare and their property. Citizens of our developed area also have the right to basic services such as water and sewer. Unfortunately the Board of Directors for the City of Hot Springs has recently denied and actually, withdrew these rights from our citizens. The City is attempting to annex thousands of people and thousands of acres into the City without allowing those being annexed or even allowing their own residents a voice or a vote.

We contend that the City is taking unfair advantage of 2015 legislation that was never intended to allow cities to annex thousands of acres without a vote of the people. State Representative Bruce Cozart today explained this fact and is proposing a legislative bill to correct the City’s improper actions.

As most Garland County residents know, the City of Hot Springs modified their ordinances and policies to disallow water service to new users outside the city limits based primarily on incorrect information that the City had a “water crisis.” Their ordinances and policies have had, and continues to have, devastating impacts on property owners and the economic development of Garland County. In fact, this policy alone has stopped all significant growth in the county including several proposed new subdivisions, several apartment complexes, and numerous new businesses. For example, a new Wal-Mart Supercenter that would have employed over 480 of our citizens was turned down. The City’s policy has also significantly lowered the values of citizen’s properties. Who wants to buy property that has no water or sewer service? This, in turn, lowers the County’s tax base which greatly impacts the County’s ability to provide basic services such as road maintenance, garbage collection, and public safety.

For these reasons, we hereby request that the City of Hot Springs end their practice of not allowing citizens their right to vote and to immediately rescind their ordinances and damaging policies prohibiting water and sewer service outside its city limits. Further, the purpose of this Press Release is to inform the citizens of Garland County, Arkansas that the City of Hot Springs and its Board of Directors are in direct violation of a Court Order which has already ruled that the City must stop such practices, because they are illegal.

Specifically, the Court Order titled, “Consent Order No. 93-1639” filed on November 3, 1994 deals with City violations concerning annexation and water/sewer connections outside the city limits of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The Court found and the City consented to facts that found the City Board of Directors and the City guilty of violating the Constitution of the State of Arkansas and enforcing illegal resolutions, policies, and actions. These included:

  1. Resolution 2821 which violated Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of Arkansas.
  2. The enforcement of Resolution 2821 and City policies and actions was found in violation of numerous agreements between the City and various water districts, sewer districts, and property owners living outside the city limits.
  3. The prevailing Plaintiffs had paid taxes to construct water and/or sewer improvements and had relied on the City’s promises and previous practices to allow connection to City water and sewer with no prerequisites required.
  4. The City guaranteed, in exchange for a grant from the Federal Government to construct new facilities that the facilities would be “regional,” meaning inclusion of outside-of-city users. No mention of preconditions were made in order to obtain Federal funding and cannot now be arbitrarily added.

As a footnote to these rulings; The Hot Springs City Attorney now seems to be saying that the agreements between certain water and sewer districts dating back to the 1970’s have expired or they are otherwise not enforceable. He contends that the Supreme Court of Arkansas 2009 (Ark. 276) ruling was somehow related but this case (No. 08-611) clearly states, “The issue in the Burchwood litigation was annexation. The issues in the present case concern sewer rates and debt-service charges.”

In fact, there were many parties to the original lawsuit other than water or sewer districts which actually included and continue to include all property owners within Garland County. The Court Order, obviously, has NOT been overturned and thus, remains in effect today.

The Court Order stopped the City practice of requiring property owners to either annex to the City or promise to do so in the future in order to obtain water and sewer service. Further, the order dictates that the Plaintiffs and property owners of Garland County relied on the City’s promises and can enforce these promises against the City as third-party beneficiaries of the agreement.

Consent Order 93-1639 specifically states in Item 23, “The Defendants (City and Board of Directors), as representatives of the City of Hot Springs, and agents and employees of the City are permanently enjoined from doing any of the following:”

The key word in that ruling is the word, “permanently” which mean this ruling did NOT expire or have a term limit and remains in effect TODAY. The PERMANENT enjoinment includes:

  1. Any requirement by to City to annex or promise to annex by a property owner or other individual.
  2. Refusal to provide service irrespective of the location inside or outside the city.

The Court also ordered that all petitions for annexation and all pre-annexation agreements executed as a result of the City’s illegal requirements are VOID “ab initio” which means “from its inception.”

Strictly interpreted, this means ALL annexations such as Chesswood and numerous other annexations are illegal and these properties actually should be de-annexed, does it not?

Discriminatory wording from www.cityhs.net website: CHS Ordinance 5931, Chapter 5, Section 1 (b-4): Priority of Request. Any such requests within the corporate limits of the City shall be given priority over projects outside the city limits. Approved 4-16-2007.

Concerned Citizens Coalition

Missing Juvenile

The Hot Springs Police Department is attempting to locate Brooklyn Collins. Brooklyn is 17 years old and described as white female, 5’04”, approximately 125 lbs., with blue eyes & mid-length dark brown or black hair.  She was last seen on 09/28/16 and was headed to a late class at National Park College. Brooklyn was driving a green 1999 Pontiac Grand Am, which was unlicensed at the time of her disappearance.
Anyone with information on Brooklyn Collins is asked to contact the Hot Springs Police Department at 501-321-6789 or HSPD Detective Patrick Langley at 501-321-6789 ext. 6792.

Hot Springs Sweetheart Program kicks off 11th year

Sunday 36 young women from the Garland County area were welcomed into the 2016-2017 American Heart Association (AHA) Sweetheart program, presented by National Park Medical Center. o ignored
The AHA Sweethearts are a group of high school sophomores & juniors who commit to learning about cardiovascular diseases and lead healthy lifestyles by participating in heart healthy activities from October through March.  The program culminates with the introduction of the Sweethearts at the 2017 AHA Heart Ball on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at Horner Hall. The Heart Ball is also sponsored by National Park Medical Center, and chaired by Jerry and Mary Noel Mabry. o ignored
“We are proud to have been a part of the Sweethearts program since it began 11 years ago, said Mandy Golleher, National Park Medical Center’s director of communication and marketing.  “Every year these young ladies dedicate so much time and effort into learning more about heart disease and then carrying out a heart healthy lifestyle.  We have also seen so many young women leave this program with a passion for healthcare, with many going into nursing school, radiology programs and even some in medical school.  It is also our pleasure to continue our work with the Hot Springs Sweetheart founders, Paul and Kathryn Russell, who pour their heart and soul into the Sweethearts program every year to bring education and awareness to these young ladies against the number one killer among men and women – heart disease,” The Russells began the Sweethearts program 11 years ago in memory of their daughter, Caroline, who died at the age of 2 of a possible undetected heart condition. o ignored
“We are so proud of the young ladies who have made commitments to both their personal heart health and to become life-long ambassadors for the AHA.  The skills and information that they learn during this program last a lifetime and contributes not only to their own health, but also to the health of their families and friends,” said Kathryn.  “It is exciting to see how the program grows each year through community partnerships with businesses and organizations like National Park Medical Center and LifeNet,”she adds.  o ignored
Throughout the Sweetheart program, the young ladies participate in heart-healthy activities and educational opportunities which include fundraising for the American Heart Association, volunteering at National Park Medical Center, certification in infant and adult CPR provided by NPMC, a cardiovascular exercise day with Amy Johnson and Michelle Bell at FBC Fitness, a tour of the NPMC Cardiac Cath Labs, a LifeNet-sponsored ambulance dispatch ride-along and Father-Daughter Bar-b-que sponsored by Smokin’ In Style.  In November, the Sweethearts will attend a Mother/Daughter soiree sponsored by Lauray’s the Diamond Center, where Mark and Patti Fleischner will present each sweetheart with a special gift.  Sweethearts are also required to write an essay about cardiovascular disease which is graded by an NPMC Cardiology Specialist.  The official Sweetheart’s photographer, Viva Rose Photography, will provide portraits of each of the Sweethearts.  At the end of the 5-month program the Sweethearts perform a specially choreographed dance by Jessica Allen at the Heart Ball. o ignored
The one Sweetheart who demonstrates the most dedication to the program and the most knowledge of cardiovascular disease will receive the title of “Sweetheart of the Ball” at the Heart Ball, and will receive the $2,000 Caroline Grace Russell Memorial Scholarship, which was established by the Russells to honor the memory of their daughter.  She will also receive custom Sweetheart Jewelry designed by Lauray’s—The Diamond Center.  The 2016 Sweetheart of the Ball was Miss Katelyn Lance.  Additional awards are given for leadership, volunteering, fundraising and the very special Catie Cooper Spirit Award, created in memory of 2010 “forever sweetheart,” Catie Cooper who was tragically lost during her tenure as a sweetheart.  o ignored
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Every year, a Junior Sweetheart is also selected by the Russell family to be mentored by the Sweethearts, and this year’s Junior Sweetheart is Miss Presley Kate White.  Presley is the daughter of Mandy and Kevin White, and attends Lakeside schools. o ignored
The 2017 American Heart Association Sweethearts are Allison Brooke Trantham, Alyssa Marie Hall, Annabelle (Belle) Nichole Neilson, Annabeth Rose Hrdlicka, Ashton Olivia Patrick, Baylee Nicole Barton, Caley Aaron Worley, Carlee Jae Carmon, Caroline Beaumont Johnson. Elizabeth (Liz) Caroline Lockwood , Ellee Grace Horner, Emily Raegen Magby, Emma Bauer Ross, Emma Kirsten Ferguson, Erin Griffin, Faith Eryn Webb, Hailey Belle Hawkins, Halynn Adrianna Reeves, Hannah Marie Castleberry, Jamie Marie Hefley, Kailey Mechelle Freeman, Kaitlyn Ann McFarland, Kaylee Marie Buth, Laney Kaye Herman, Lindsey Mckee Davis, Madison Brooke Hardcastle, Madison Ragon Connaway, Mason Alyse Aitken, Micaela Christine Threadgill, Morgan Paige Fincham, Olivia Mckaley Dolan, Payton Grace Patrick, Raegan Laine Hickam, Sophia Michelle Geisleman and Trinity Faith Dooley.

PRESS RELEASE

Fatality Accident
On October 10, 2016 at 9:22 pm, the Hot Springs Police Department responded to an accident in the 1300 block of Airport Road. The accident involved a silver 2011 Chevy Malibu, which was occupied by two people and a marked Arkansas State Police vehicle. Both occupants of the Chevy Malibu died at the scene. The Arkansas State Trooper was seriously injured and was transported by LifeNet to St. Vincent Hospital in Hot Springs.
The names of the deceased will be released pending notification of next of kin. The Arkansas State Troopers name will also be released at a later time.