Thursday, January 31, 2008

Alderwoman Debi Ross shares her thoughts

In this week's "NLR Times" D. J. Smith wrote a very interesting and revealing article on Ward 1 Alderwoman Debi Ross sharing her thoughts on her first year with the City Council. Since we are in an election year this article should be considered a must-read for anyone wanting to know more about the elected office of Ward Alderman and its lack of an instruction book for guidance in handling policies and procedures on pending legislation coming before the City Council.

If you don't subscribe to the "Times", you can either purchase a Thursday January 31st paper edition on the street or see the complete article posted on the Levi Blog, which is linked for your convenience on the right side of this page. Please take the time to read the article for it may help provide an understanding of what happens out of sight when it comes to City Council actions, and also may help to form questions of our NLR Candidates running for office this year.

Alert! Burglars Reading The Obits

A burglary took place on Wednesday morning over on Overbrook Circle while the occupants were attending a funeral. While they were in mourning someone was providing them with more personal sorrow. Their whole house was ransacked! Unfortunately this "M.O." makes perfect sense for a successful home burglary to take place. All you have to do is read the obituaries in the newspaper, call the listed funeral home for the decease's address if you don't have it, and armed with this information you have everything you need to know for a successful theft. The date, time and location of the funeral and subsequent internment is provided, so you know how much time you'll have to hit the house while the owner is out!

Because we are all temporal and will one day face this fact of life; make sure that you turn on your house alarm system if you have one (they didn't)! Tell a good neighbor that you will be gone during the funeral and ask them to watch the house, informing them that there should be absolutely no vehicles parked and no one at or inside your home. Better yet, have someone you trust house-sit during that period of time. And during their grief this could be a wonderful outreach of love and care for your neighbor's benefit as well!

What is happening to McCain Mall

Thanks to the Levy Project blog and Scot Miller for the following post:

Now here's a problem brewing that out City leaders should be focusing on. McCain Mall has been in decline for years, Luby's and other stores leaving. downgrading of tenant mix and very little money being spent to remodel or improve it. Go to McCain on any Friday or Saturday night and see all the kids cruising the mall. Park Plaza had a major facelift a couple of years ago to keep it fashionable. What we are looking at here in 3-5 years is a University Mall scenario. And with that will come a financial crisis for the City with the loss of all that sales tax revenue. If we sit back and do nothing with all the growth in Cabot and Jacksonville we will be looking at a new open air lifestyle center similar to Shackleford Crossing up north much closer to Cabot and not in NLR. Our city leaders should be meeting with the mall property owners, managers and building owners NOW to avoid this predictable train wreck and find way to improve and expand McCain Mall. We must not let McCain Mall become University Mall.

PS Guess who manages McCain Mall and used to manage University Mall?.....That's right, the same company, Simon Property Group in Indianapolis

Murry Witcher, one of our aldermen, mentioned this at our last NLAN meeting.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Are you smarter than . . .

I'm sure you have either been exposed to or at least heard of a recent popular TV show titled "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?", hosted by Jeff Foxworthy. If you dare to go up against a 5th Grader and try to answer the posed question sometimes you find out that you aren't! Well, how about trying to go up against a 3rd Grader? You think this would be a piece of cake? Think again! My granddaughter Emma is a 3rd Grader at Lakewood Elementary and she brought home a booklet for homework which is titled "Arkansas Activity Booklet", published by Charlie Daniels, our Secretary of State. This particular evening Emma was studying the Greater Seal Of The State Of Arkansas, which caught my eye with its symbols' description and explanations. (I only wish I could convey the picture of our state seal for you but unfortunately I'm not smarter than a 3rd Grader!) The booklet's description of our state's seal follows:

"On the shield of our state seal are a steamboat, a plow, a beehive and a sheaf of wheat, symbols of Arkansas' industrial and agricultural wealth. The Angel of Mercy, the Sword of Justice and the Goddess of Liberty surround a bald eagle. The eagle holds in its beak a scroll inscribed with the Latin phrase "Regnat Populus", our state motto, which means " - - - - - - - - - - - - - -". The seal was adopted in its basic form in 1864, and in its present form in 1907."

Emma had to answer the following question on the Arkansas Quiz Test following her studies. And this is your test question for all the marbles, and to see if you are indeed "Smarter Than A 3rd Grader"! From the civics category the question is: What does the Latin phrase "Regnat Populus", the Arkansas State Seal Motto, mean? The answer is illustrated below. Seriously, it would behoove us all to remember this motto and what it means, especially as we move forward in this election year. And let's bring it down home here to the City of North Little Rock: This year whenever we find ourselves drawn into the local election process for the positions of NLR Mayor, City Clerk and one Alderman from each Ward, or other city government issues, let's focus on the power the average NLR Citizen has to make a difference. After all, we do indeed have this "right" and no one should dare challenge us on this - we have the power of the Great Seal of the State of Arkansas guarding these "rights", and its motto is very clear and concise!

I propose this Latin phrase "Regnat Populus" also become our Northeast Lakewood Associated Neighborhoods Association Motto as well. I believe it should be prominently displayed as part of our letterhead, and also be displayed on our blog's title page header. Having it constantly under our eyes will remind us of who we are, and the responsibilities we all possess as voter-registered citizens of this great City of North Little Rock! At our next scheduled association meeting in May let's come together on this proposal and talk it over . Heck, if you are compelled to express a comment on this now don't wait! I would be very interested in your thoughts. Thank you!
Emma's correct answer: "The People Rule"!
If you are ever on stage and Jeff Foxworthy asks you this civics question you can now just grin him down!
Nate Brandes, President - NLAN

Thursday, January 24, 2008

An Answer To "We Might Be Losing Some Police Positions"

Seems for the 2007 year budget the Budget Director & Mayor Hays decided that they needed to find more money to help offset the increase in electrical bills; to keep the citizens' electric bills from being too high during the first year's higher costs the city would have to step up and pay more on their part. So one of the ways of obtaining more funds was to freeze 11 positions (10 officers & one computer-tech.) in the NLR Police Department's staffing. As an officer retired or resigned in 2007 his position was not filled, and the city used those funds to go towards the electrical costs. In effect the police force was dropped from 203 officers down to 193 officers.

The budget for 2008 that was passed once again was aimed at repeating the staffing reduction approach to gain funds towards the electrical costs. However, this budget completely eliminated the 10 officer positions - took them off the books! They were not frozen and still listed - they are gone like they never existed in the first place! That is the police department's main worry - once gone they don't exist, and if they ever get the monies to increase the staff back up with 10 officers they will have to go before Council and request the additional positions as well as the monies to support them.

Additionally, we are loosing our more experienced officers to other law enforcement organizations that are paying more money than NLR. We have had 5 officers leave, and 6 officers are gone on military assignments until 2009.. Bradley said that he is trying to hire 5 officers, plus an additional 6 to replace the lost military officers, believing that when those 6 return he will have openings to be filled.

So it's a matter of bringing the police force back up to the 203 staffing point, and increasing their pay schedules to match Little Rocks and other communities. In view of the current crime rates, coupled with the economy going down hill creating more opportunities for crime, everyone is concerned we will not have enough police on the streets. It will be interesting to see what takes place at the City Council Meeting when this issue comes up!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We Might Be Losing Some Police Positions

We have some developing news concerning an important situation the NLR Police Department is facing. It appears there is a plan to reduce the number of police positions in NLR while our cops are already stretched thin on their patrols, working overtime, being forced to cancel vacations and time off. We are also losing cops at an alarming rate to other law enforcement entities. There are so many issues facing all of us in NLR and there are times when we the people must stand together for the common good. It's important we stand shoulder to shoulder with our police officers. If you read the paper or watch the news, public safety should be a prime concern.

Help us support our North Little Rock Police Department by coming to the City Council Meeting on Monday, January 28. There is strength in numbers and this looks like it may become a very serious situation for all of us.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

COUNCIL AGENDA Monday, January 28, 2008 @ 7:00 p.m.

COMMUNICATIONS - None as of filing deadline (12:00 noon, Tuesday, January 22, 2008)

PRESENTATION - Nathan Cook, Arkansas 211 presentation to City Council


O-07-136 Mayor Hays
Granting a Conditional Use to allow an Auto Accessories Installation business in a C-3 zone for property located at 3701 JFK Blvd (applicant: Scott Holmes). Read 2 times and returned to agenda

R-08-08 Mayor Hays
Certifying Local Government Endorsement of Polytec, Inc. To participate in the Tax Back Program as authorized by Ark. Code Ann. § 15-4-2706(d) of the Consolidated Incentive Act of 2003 (701 Dixie)
R-08-09 Mayor Hays
Appropriating $16,475.74 from Act 833 Funds for remodeling work on the kitchen facilities at the Central Fire Station (712 Maple)
R-08-10 Mayor Hays
Appropriating $7,548.42 from Act 833 Funds for remodeling work at Fire Station No. 3 (15th and Schaer)
R-08-11 Mayor Hays
Appropriating $2,412.85 from Act 833 Funds for repair work at Fire Station No. 7 (McCain Boulevard)

O-08-02 Mayor Hays
Authorizing the extension and renewal of the City’s Revolving Credit Note under Amendment 78 for the acquisition, construction and installation of real and tangible personal property and other related facilities in the City of NLR; authorizing the execution of an Amended and Restated Promissory Note; appropriating funds (Bank of America)
O-08-03 Alderwoman Ross
Granting a Special Use to allow a Single Family Residence in a C-3 zone for property located at 2014 Pike Avenue (applicant: Larry Rogers)
O-08-04 Alderwoman Robinson
Granting a Conditional Use for a Day Care Center in a C-4 zone for property located at 1901 East Broadway (applicant: Alice Banks)
O-08-05 Alderman Parker
Vacating and abandoning a certain Sewer Utility Easement located in part of Lot 1, Summit Church Addition (6600 Crystal Hill Road)
O-08-06 Alderman Thomas
Granting a Conditional Use to allow a Used Car Sales Lot in a C-4 zone for property located at 2100 East Broadway (applicant: John Richardson)

Please complete a public comment card and return to City Clerk before speaking
Respectfully submitted, Diane Whitbey, CMC / CAMC
City Clerk and Collector

Saturday, January 19, 2008

NLAN January Meeting Agenda

Lakewood Property Owners Association Activity Center (LPOA Office), 4500 Lakeshore Drive, just south of McCain Blvd. on the west side of Lake #3. Tel.: 758-1792

Time: 6:45 p.m.: Sign-in & Mix & Mingle

To help the meeting move along we will open the doors at 6:45 p.m. to fill out sign-in sheets, offer membership questionnaire forms for first-time neighbor attendees and to grab your name tag and a cup of hot coffee! Copies of the proposed By-Laws and Meeting Agenda will be available as well.

Time: 7:00 p.m.: Meeting Promptly Called To Order

Welcome: Herb Etheridge 5 Minutes
Presentation of By-Laws & Vote: Lynda Etheridge 5 Minutes
Nominations, late of Officers & Vote: Herb Etheridge 10 Minutes
Announcements: Newly Elected President 5 Minutes
Neighborhood Safety Issues: Officer Tommy Norman 10 Minutes
Neighborhood & City Issues: *Aldermen Hight & Witcher 20 Minutes
"The Blog Guy" **Bob Dahms 15 Minutes
What's On Your Mind? General Discussion 10 Minutes
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total Meeting Time Objective: 80 Minutes

* Alderman Hight has been asked to address the subject of Ward 4 Improvement Funds yearly allocated to both he and Alderman Witcher; answering questions such as the amount made available, how it is used, what was its actual use in 2007, and what happened with the remaining unused 2007 amounts? Also, both Aldermen will be given the opportunity to address the subject of the 2008 NLR Budget, its overall impact upon our taxes and how those monies will be used to support the budget. Of course your questions will be taken by our Aldermen regarding current city government and planning department agendas that are now directly impacting our neighborhood along with those that may be in our near future.
** Bob Dahms will offer an "Everything you ever wanted to know about a "blog" but was afraid to ask" talk to help us understand what exactly a blog is, what it's operating purpose & manners should be, and most importantly how we can read as well as post to and comment on our NLAN Blog Site. We'll be in class - bring a pencil and notepad!

Hope to see everyone Monday evening. Take care driving in!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

There be wildlife!

It would appear that hunting season is still open along and just north of 5 Mile Creek. Last Saturday morning the 12th at approximately 5:55 a.m. I was awaken by a rifle shot! Later that same day at approximately 3:05 p.m. I heard another rifle shot! Both of these appeared to come from the woods just north of 5 Mile Creek that borders our two neighborhoods, and located in either the city limits of North Little Rock and/or Sherwood. I am concerned for the safety of all our neighbors and their children; while hunting game a rifle bullet that does not cut meat can travel upwards of 500 yards! Now we know that hunting within our city limits is illegal. And running ATVs up and down our neighborhood streets and across our lawns is illegal, too! So be watchful whenever you see suspicious activity that may announce that someone is hunting just behind our own backyards, and immediately report it to our police!

You might be asking exactly what could anybody be hunting for in the 5 Mile Creek's woodlands? Let me tell ya! The following have been confirmed by multiple neighborhood sightings reported within the last four months. We have whitetail deer, red fox, raccoon, gray & flying squirrel, possum, hawk, owl and osprey. And "big" snakes, too! Now I don't want to alarm you but please be watchful of your small pets while they are outdoors, unattended.

As further subdivision and business developments come along to impact our 5 Mile Creek woodlands we will continue to see more wildlife displaced and in turn become more visible in our neighborhoods. Why I've even got a bet going that soon we'll have confirmed sightings of an ol' Arkansas gator! Just wait and see.

Nate Brandes

Saturday, January 12, 2008

On the Thursday evening of January 10th the NLAN Association's call to convene a Nominating Committee was answered by sixteen members of the association. By unanimous vote a Slate of Officers deemed to serve for the year 2008 was established, to be presented before the voting members for their approval at the regular scheduled meeting of January 21st. The prepared 2008 Slate of Officers are:

President: Nate Brandes
Vice President: John Sims
Secretary: Faye Kirkwood
Treasurer: Lynda Etheridge

As previously announced, nominations from the meeting floor for all officer positions will be accepted for consideration at the January 21st Association Meeting, 7:00 p.m. to be held at the Lakewood Property Owners Association's Activity Center (LPOA Office), 4500 Lakeshore Drive, west side of Lake #3.

Nate Brandes

Friday, January 11, 2008

North Little Rock Times

Many of our Northeast Lakewood Association Neighborhoods Members subscribe to "The Times," a weekly newspaper published every Thursday morning. And then again, many do not! May I be bold and state that if you are not providing yourselves the opportunity to review the contents of this weekly newspaper you are missing the boat! Stephens Media LLC is providing the means to keep us informed on what is happening in North Little Rock, and the city beat reporter, D.J. Smith, has been and continues to be excellent on reporting matters concerning our city government's actions that affect and impact us as its citizens. The editorial staff under the leadership of Eric Francis does not pull any punches when providing their findings on current affairs! The bottom line is that I depend on "The Times" to keep me posted on matters that affect me, my family and our quality of life! I believe everyone can achieve the same level of knowledge with clear understanding by being exposed to "The Times."

The subscription rates are .43 cents per week (.36 cents per week for Senior Citizens). If interested call the circulation department at 851-6220. This is an election year so stay informed. I know that you will find very interesting and factual decision-making reading in the coming weeks!

Please, the above is not a paid solicitation or advertisement for "The Times."It is presented solely for consideration on it's merits as a communication tool that continues to provide information with clear understanding. Be informed so that you may make informed decisions! Good advice for us all, don't you think? Thank you!

Nate Brandes

City Council Agenda - January 14th


1. Bill White, Petition requesting speed hump(s) on Longview Road (11 signatures).

Presentations – None

Public Hearing(s) 7:05 p.m. – None

Unfinished Business-Resolutions – None

Unfinished Business-Ordinances

O-07-124 Alderman Gaines
Amending Ord. No. 7697 (The Zoning Ordinance) to add Section 12.24 (Dumpsters and Dumpster Enclosures)
Read 3 times and held

O-07-136 Mayor Hays
Granting a Conditional Use to allow an Auto Accessories Installation business in a C-3 zone for property located at 3701 JFK Blvd (applicant: Scott Holmes)
Read 1 time and returned to agenda

New Business - Resolutions

R-08-01 Mayor Hays
Declaring certain buildings, houses and other structures located at 521 Gardenia to constitute a public nuisance and condemning the same (owner: HIM c/o Raymond Govan)
Convene Public Hearing this date

R-08-02 Mayor Hays
Declaring certain buildings, houses and other structures located at #24 Neal Place to constitute a public nuisance and condemning the same (owner: Fred Wilson)
Convene Public Hearing this date

R-08-03 Mayor Hays
Declaring certain buildings, houses and other structures located at 816 N. Magnolia to constitute a public nuisance and condemning the same (owner: Loving Care, Inc. C/o Ross King)
Convene Public Hearing this date

R-08-04 Mayor Hays
Declaring certain buildings, houses and other structures located at 1522 Schaer to constitute a public nuisance and condemning the same (owner: Farmers Bank & Trust Co. c/o Ross King)
Convene Public Hearing this date

R-08-05 Mayor Hays
Authorizing the Mayor and City Clerk to sell certain property located on Fort Roots Drive ($111,000 - to Recovery Centers of AR)

R-08-06 Alderman Bryant
Authorizing the Mayor and City Clerk to execute an easement from the City of NLR for the NLR Waste Water Department (see area of Lot 8 Block 28 Military Heights Renewal Addition)

R-08-07 Alderman Gaines
Requesting the State Legislature to authorize Cities of the First Class to impose greater punishments for Illegal Discharge of Firearms (fine not to exceed $10,000 and incarceration of up to 90 days)

New Business - Ordinances

O-08-01 Mayor Hays
Authorizing the Issuance of Electric System Revenue Bonds to provide working capital for the Electric System; authorizing a Trust Indenture securing the bonds; authorizing the Sale of the Bonds and the execution of a Bond Purchase Agreement in connection therewith; authorizing and prescribing other matters pertaining thereto (not to exceed $15 million)

Public Comment
Please complete a public comment card and return to City Clerk before speaking

Respectfully submitted,
Diane Whitbey, CMC
City Clerk and Collector

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A request has been made for our fellow NLAN Neighbors to come forward with name suggestions for all officer positions for the 2008 term. Before we can truly expect a neighbor to commit his/her involvement in this process we should provide them with an idea of exactly what would be asked of someone if they sought one of the four officer positions. The following is taken from our proposed Association By-Laws (to be approved Jan. 21st) and all current indicators demonstrate that they will indeed stand.

1. The officers of the Association shall be the Board of Officers.
2. The individual officers and the Board of Officers collectively are to provide leadership for the Association. In this capacity they will be responsible for conveying the opinions, wishes and desires of the Association to the community. In all written and verbal communication representing the Association, the officer is required to determine the opinions of the membership and make it very plain that he/she is communicating on behalf of the members of the Association. However, the officers are certainly allowed to express their personal opinions on a subject, but are expected to always make it clear to the reader/listener that they are representing themselves only and not the Association.
3. The authorized officers and their duties are:
1. Preside over all meetings.
2. Oversee all operations of the Association.
3. Act as the primary spokesperson for the Association.
4. Appoint all persons to serve on special committees.
1. Preside over all meetings in the absence of the President.
2. Assist in the duties of the President.
3. Assume the duties of the President when the President is unable to fill the duties of the office for whatever reason.
4. Perform other duties as requested by the President.
1. Record the minutes of all meetings.
2. Prepare all correspondence and maintain the business files for the Association.
1. Maintain membership files.
2. Oversee the collection of funds, financial accounting and distribution of funds.
3. Prepare and maintain a sign-in list of members attending each general membership meeting.
4. Perform other duties as requested by the President.

Let it be known that every attempt will be made to honor and abide by the approved Association By-Laws, however, it must also be recognized that this is a beginning and we will indeed be growing together regarding the above mutual responsibility outline. The key here will be that through everyone's resolve for unity of purpose the Association's Officers can and will meet your expectations for elected representatives of our Association!

We begin the process Thursday evening the 10th at the Etheridge's home - 7:00 p.m. - requests to attend have been extended to all. The Slate of Officers will be presented for vote at the January 21st Association Meeting. Additionally, nominations will also be accepted from the floor that evening. Thank you!

Nate Brandes

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Nominating Commitee To Meet

The Northeast Lakewood Associated Neighborhoods Nominating Committee is meeting to address a slate of officers to serve for one year - 2008.

Date: Thursday January 10th
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Home of Herb & Lynda Etheridge
5101 Burrow Drive (Second house on right, just south of Somers Ave., white pillars)

We are looking for our fellow NLAN Neighbors to come forward with suggestions for all officer positions: President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Term will be for the year 2008.

Please consider coming out to Herb & Lynda's on Thursday evening to be part of this most important responsibility we all share! If you can't make it then please call Lynda at 758-1522 with your nominating suggestions. And we will take self-nominations with open hands and heart, too! Good neighbors, this is indeed your Association! It's very existence, growth and health are in your hands as always! Thank you for your consideration of the above.

Nate Brandes

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Pre-meeting plans -- We need your help!

When you stop to collect your breath after a very busy Holiday you find yourself already into the Month of January with only 10 days before our next "stuffing party" on the 15th. We've got a lot of work to do!

In checking with Lynda Etheridge and Faye Kirkwood none of us three have received any communications from our neighbors regarding by-law revisions, association officer elections or nominating committee service. Below is a possible NLAN activity purpose outline for your consideration. Please review and let either Jo Melton or me know your thoughts.

1) By-Laws Committee: Existing Committee to determine final edition for presentation and voter approval.
Copies need to be made for distribution.
2) Nomination Committee: Needs to be formed to develop a slate of officers for voter approval.
Slate needs to be drawn up and copies made.
3) Newsletter: Need to work up articles outline for content.
Copies need to be made.
4) Meeting Agenda: Jo has suggested Robert Voyles as key speaker - has he been invited/accepted?
Main items are By-Laws approval and election of officers. Copies to be made.

5) Meeting Questionnaire: Do they need to be up-dated? If not do we have enough copies?
6) Pick-Up: Envelopes and labels from NLR Neighborhood Services.
7) Stuffing Party: Last day to have it is January 15h to allow NLR Neighborhood Services to receive the envelopes by Wednesday Jan. 16th for delivery on Thursday the 17th.
8) Meeting Set-Up: Contact Ken Sullivan of LPOA for room set-up details.
9) Signs: Put up NLAN Signs early Monday morning to catch "going-to-work" crowd.

As you can see we've got a lot to do over the next 10 days: Meetings to be held! Documents to be created! Slate to be developed. Copies to be made and stuffing to be done!

Jo and I will review and come up with an activity schedule to complete the above. Needless to say we need to begin that schedule, now! And most important - whenever you can support the effort you need to step up and consider doing so! When we call - please pitch in!

As we move forward over the next 10 days we will try to keep you posted as to our mutual progress. Thanking you in advance for your consideration of the above.