Friday, April 21, 2017
Today at approximately 11:00 a.m., the Hot Springs Police and Fire Departments responded to a report of a bomb threat in the 1400 block of Central Avenue, specifically at the offices of Crye-Leike Realtors.
The surrounding two-block area was barricaded as HSPD called in the bomb squad as well as the K-9 unit to search the area for explosives. A thorough search revealed no threat to the offices and employees were allowed back into the location. Northern traffic flow on Central Avenue was opened first followed by the southbound lanes and the adjacent cross streets. Search took about an hour.
The location of this threat is the office of City Director of District 5, Rick Ramick, and has been the site of ongoing protests since April 3rd. Residents have been calling for the resignation of Director Ramick for months. Arkansas Herald conducted an exclusive investigative expose on February 20th. On this date and several days prior, Ramick was observed coming and going to and from the county residence. On February 20th he was seen rolling his Garland County-issued trash receptacle to the curb at his apparent residence at 158 Paddock Point. Paddock Point is part of Enclave B which was annexed into the city in 2016 but has remained outside of the city limits due to ongoing litigation.
During the last 2016 City Board of Directors meeting in December, the board voted unanimously to annex additional lands, specifically Enclaves C and D. This was met with the same opposition as that of Enclave B resulting in petitions produced to allow a public vote. On March 7th, the board was slated to set a date for public vote but in a turn of events, voted instead to vacate the annexation of Enclaves C and D.
Several city and county residents have voiced concern that Director Ramick is serving illegally as the director of his district. They allege that Ramick voted to annex the area of Enclave B where he resides in the Paddock Point home but that he was ineligible. Ramick contends that he has “dual residency” with a condominium inside the city limits.
No further details of the threat were available but will be reported as soon as they become available.
Today, Monday, February 27th at 3 P.M. members of the Hot Springs Advertising and Promotion Commission met with a significant item on their agenda. That task was to fill the vacant seat that Tom Daniel’s death created in 2016. Mr. Daniel had served on the Commission for as much as 15 years.
Three candidates vied for the position by submitting applications along with their Curricula Vitae (CVs) and offering their voluntary service. The candidates were: Robert Raines, owner of The Gangster Museum of America; Michael Pettey, owner of The Ohio Club; Tom Wilkins, owner of The Five-Star Dinner Theatre. See below for the submitted information:
Additionally, two city residents spoke on behalf of Mr. Wilkins, who was the only candidate in attendance. He was also the only candidate who submitted more that just the two-page nomination application.
We often hear that “the good ol’ boy network is alive and well in Hot Springs”. Is it? We question if candidates are selected based on their qualifications, how well they are liked, how much property they own, etc. We also question if there are term limits for service.
Once the Commission takes their vote for a candidate, they must present the recommendation to the Hot Springs Board of Directors for confirmation.
Is it time to offer an opportunity for others to serve? Is it time to select persons based on their qualifications and the contributions that their experience could make? Is it time to “interrupt the cycle” of the same ol’-same ol’ in this city?