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Fire loop work starts next month

Construction of new Whitworth fire loop water systemimprovements is expected to start in July, and city officials saythey will publicize a tentative schedule for the work.

Engineer Jeff Green said a notice to proceed on theapproximately $950,000 project will be issued July 1. The projectinvolves installing new water lines on Cherokee, Monticello, WestCongress, Jackson and several other city streets.

“We’re coming up with a plan so we’re outside the businessdistrict before the shopping season,” Green said, referring toofficials’ concerns about the work potentially inconveniencingshoppers during the Christmas holidays.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, Green said citizens will seework going on before July 1 as officials search for places to putwater flow controls when the water line work begins.

The engineer said he had spoken with the contractor and atentative schedule will be developed, but weather conditions couldalter plans. Green added that there is the possibility of nighttime or Sunday work on some busy streets.

City Attorney Joe Fernald said the city is working with thechamber to set up a meeting with businesses to discuss work plans.The attorney said the newspaper would also be used to publicize thework schedule.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can to get the information outto the community,” Fernald said.

In other city projects, Green said bids for road to service anew industrial park industry will be opened July 9. Also, afterlast week’s rain, he said contractors had resumed work on a Firstand Second Street paving project and storm drain work should bedone shortly.

In a related matter, aldermen officially adopted an ordinance toprohibit loaded log trucks from traveling on South First Streetbetween the southern city limits and W.L. Behan Drive.

The ordinance, which will take effect in 30 days, is designed toprevent damage to the road that is being improved. The fineschedule is $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second offenseand $500 for the third and subsequent offenses.

CABLE UPDATE

Also making an appearance during Tuesday’s board meeting wasBobby McCool, general manager for Cable One. McCool was respondingto board concerns about rising cable television rates.

In April, the rate for the basic 57-channel package rose to$37.50. With sales tax and franchise fees, the total monthly billis around $40.

McCool touted over $6 million in improvements made to the localsystem since 1998. He said the improvements allow more channelcapacity, provide better picture quality and allowed for high-speedInternet access services.

McCool acknowledged the rate increases were difficult on seniorcitizens and those on fixed incomes.

However, McCool cited increases on programming fees, especiallyfrom sports channels, as part of the reason behind the higher fees.He said ESPN programming fees had risen 20 percent over the lastthree years.

“They’re about to out price themselves,” McCool said, suggestingthe possibility in the future of a separate sports channel packageon a premium basis.

McCool was also asked about Cable One’s recent amnesty programin which people getting cable service illegally could turnthemselves in and not be prosecuted.

“We didn’t have a big response because hopefully we didn’t havethat many,” McCool said.

The amnesty program ended in May and Cable One will now bechecking homes to see if anyone is getting cable service illegally.McCool also warned citizens to be wary of cable televisionconnection scams.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

Toward the end of the meeting, aldermen met in executive sessionwith Andrew Graham, a firefighter who was laid off recentlyfollowing questions about his meeting minimum standardcertification.

Graham, who has been with the department over three years, saidhe had met certification requirements. Aldermen took no actionafter returning from the closed meeting.

In board-related matters, Ward 6 Alderman John E. “Buddy” Allenwas unable to attend last night’s meeting after sustaining a mildstroke or heart attack, said Mayor Bill Godbold.

Also, the board approved a resolution honoring Jerry Rudman, thehusband of City Clerk Iris Rudman, for his business, school andcommunity efforts and expressing condolences to the Rudman familyfollowing his death earlier Tuesday. Funeral arrangements for Mr.Rudman are incomplete.