Maumelle Council moves ahead
Picking up the pieces in North Little Rock; Newly renovated museum has ribbon-cutting on Saturday; MGC Kids is Business of the Year plus headlines and sports
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Weekly pandemic death count unknown
The number of Arkansans who died from Covid in the last week was unknown, according to the state’s Department of Health. The dashboard showed hasn’t been updated since April 11.
The total number of dead Arkansans reported to the state remains at 13,074.
There’s now a one-stop shop to learn about vaccination sites and other Covid related information. Click here to learn more.
If you don’t want to get sick and die, there’s some things you can do:
Wear a mask
Upcoming meetings: The North Little Rock City Council meets next Monday night. Tonight, the North Little Rock School Board will hold a regular meeting at 5:30 pm in the Administration Building Boardroom. Click here to view the agenda.
Events: The Commercial Real Estate Council of Metro Little Rock will host a Women in Real Estate Brunch next Tuesday, April 25, at 10 a.m. at Annunciation Cultural Center, 1100 Napa Valley Drive. The event will feature a panel of women with commercial real estate experience leading a discussion on issues that face women in the industry.
Esperanza Massana-Crane, AEDC Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprise
Cathey Cox, Eagle Bank
Lisa Ferrell, Rockwater Village
Gozde Gursoy, UA Little Rock Construction Management
Tickets are $10 for members and $30 for guests and are available at crecmlr.org/events.
Fidelity Communications opens spring grants: Fidelity Communications, along with the other Cable One® family of brands, will open spring 2023 applications for the company’s Charitable Giving Fund, which annually awards $250,000 in grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, from now to Sunday, April 30. For more information about the Fidelity Charitable Giving Fund, visit www.fidelitycommunications.com/charitablegiving.
MGC Kids named Business of the Year by Maumelle Chamber
At the Maumelle Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Community Awards Banquet last Thursday,MGC Kids was named the Business of the Year.
The event was held at the Venue at Westwind, and was a capacity crowd.
Also honored were:
Person of the Year - Albert "Al" Canelli
Educator of the Year - Stephanie Stiles, Maumelle Charter High School
Student of the Year - Rochelle Johnson, Maumelle Middle School
All proceeds from the event were donated to the Arkansas Food Bank, to assist those in need after the March 31 tornado that hit North Little Rock, Little Rock and Sherwood.
Click here to see photos from the night.
Maumelle: City Council report
Council gives thumbs up to moving forward with pickleball facility; Gateway Park plans are presented and will include a food truck park and Farmers Market; Rusty Ray appointed to serve on the Planning Commission
Monday night’s meeting began with a presentation from Dave Roberts (Maumelle Resident and VP with Crafton Tull) regarding Gateway Park which will be constructed at the corner of Maumelle Boulevard and Millwood Drive.
This site is where the old fire station and municipal court building are currently located. This new park will feature multiple spots for food trucks to set up in a highly visible location along Maumelle Boulevard. In addition, there will be a pavilion available for Farmers Markets and other events looking for a covered, open-air space. There will also be a large grass lawn with string lighting in front of a small stage that can be used for outdoor performances.
The future Central Arkansas Greenway will come directly through Maumelle and down Club Manor Drive. This greenway will turn off Club Manor and head directly into this new park. I have no doubt this will be an exciting addition to Maumelle and will be great for families to visit by walking or riding bikes along our current and future trail system. Engineering is currently underway on this park so more details will be shared in the future as these plans are finalized and we move towards construction.
Next on the agenda was a review of the city’s financials through March of 2023. The city continues with strong financial reporting and our revenue for the year is $279,000 ahead of budget and our expenses are $505,000 below budget. Our general fund currently has a balance of approximately $12 million.
The only item of old business was a brief discussion regarding Park on the River. I’ve not shared a report in a couple of meetings so I haven’t touched on this in my council recap. At the previous meeting, the council approved an 18-month contract for Team Summit to be able to lease this property as a venue for weddings, receptions, and other small events. The city still retains use of this facility for any events that we want to hold there as well. The previous contract with Team Summit had expired several years ago and had never been renewed. Additionally, indoor events had been shut down during Covid so very little activity has taken place at this site.
The council approved a new 18-month contract for Team Summit to continue hosting events they have scheduled for that property. Additionally, the council asked the mayor to come back to the council within six months and give an update on the future use of this property. This 18-month contract allows the site to still be used until the city decides what (if any) changes we would like to see made with this site so it can be better utilized by our residents. If you’ve not driven out there, it’s a beautiful setting and the city has a boat ramp along the Arkansas River. The primary issue with hosting events there is due to the fact the house on the property is rather small and this limits the size of indoor events that can be held there. Stay tuned for future announcements from the city on when an Open House will be held there so residents can view the inside of the building on the property. The outdoor area is always open so feel free to drive over anytime and take a look. It’s located off of Crystal Hill Road just past First Security Bank.
The next item on the agenda was an appointment to a vacant seat on the Maumelle Planning Commission. Rusty Ray was selected by the council to serve in this seat. Rusty will bring an extensive background in construction to the committee, and I appreciate his willingness to serve. Thanks also to Mr. John Jones who also applied for the position.
In new business, the council heard the first reading of a new ordinance that would allow retired employees to continue on the city’s healthcare plan following retirement. They would have to pay 100% of the cost for this coverage with no contribution from the city, but it does provide an option for people looking to continue health coverage. As an insurance agent, I’d also remind people that insurance coverage is often less expensive through the Healthcare Marketplace, so there are multiple options now for people under age 65 that need health insurance prior to Medicare.
Next, the council approved a lease agreement with the Department of Finance and Administration for the revenue office located inside City Hall. This agreement runs through September 30, 2024 and DF&A will only pay $1 per year in rent to the city. This is a win-win in my opinion since the office uses such a small space within our building and it allows residents to take care of any DFA issues right here in our city. This is increasingly rare in cities across the state, so I’m glad we’ll still have this presence inside city hall.
Next, the council approved a budget amendment to add $16,000 to the City Attorney’s budget for legal fees. These fees are to pay for outside counsel in the matter of Poole v. Maumelle Police Department that is scheduled to be heard before the Maumelle Civil Service Commission. Arkansas law requires the city to employ outside counsel for the police department in these proceedings since the City Attorney will be acting as counsel for the Civil Service Commission. This was approved unanimously.
The next item was a topic that many are excited about in Maumelle. Pickleball! The council approved $600,000 in funds for construction of pickleball courts during the 2023 budget year. Now that engineering has progressed to 60%, the estimated costs for the courts we’re wanting to build have come in around $850,000. The mayor presented some options of scaling down the courts and removing some amenities, but he said his preference was to go with the original plans and build nice courts for our community. The council agreed and unanimously gave their approval to continue engineering the design for 7 courts with a high-quality concrete playing surface. These courts will also include lighting for playing during the evenings and at night. Once the design is complete, the council will appropriate the additional dollars needed to begin construction on Maumelle’s pickleball courts.
The last item of discussion was an agenda item requested by Council Member Holt regarding fees collected by Animal Services. A resident reached out to Mr. Holt as well as the other council members to express their concern about the annual registration fees charged by the city. These fees were changed last year and increased for animals that are intact (not spayed or neutered) and not microchipped. If your dog or cat is spayed/neutered and microchipped, the annual registration fee is still only $5.
That’s all for the week. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Chad 501-529-1336, email@example.com
Picking up the pieces in North Little Rock
Amboy will never be the same.
The North Little Rock neighborhood was the hardest residential area in the city when the EF3 tornado hit on March 31.
The tornado leveled homes, businesses and cut a path of destruction through nearby Burns Park that will take months to clean up.
But not all hope was lost.
The youth baseball fields will reopen next Monday, April 24, as crews still work elsewhere in the state’s largest, and among the country’s biggest, municipal parks.
“The fields will be accessible by entering Joe K. Poch Drive only and will exit the same way,” city spokesman Shara Booth Brazear said in an email.
The rest of the park – Funland Drive, softball fields, the tennis center, soccer fields, high school baseball fields and a section of the Arkansas River Trail – will remain closed.
“Even though the process is long and the work is hard, we are North Little Rock Strong,” said North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick.
Resources to assist recovery
It’s easy to be confused by all the disaster resources available as you recover from the severe storms and tornadoes that occurred March 31, but here is a breakdown of agencies, programs, phone numbers and website links that may assist you with your recovery that was provied by FEMA..
Insurance: If you have insurance, contact your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance provider to file a claim. If you have not filed a claim with your insurance company or provided a copy of your insurance settlement approval or denial to FEMA, you will likely receive a notification that there is "no decision." This means FEMA may need additional information from you to continue processing your application.
FEMA disaster assistance may be available for survivors who live in one of the three designated counties for Individual Assistance, Cross, Lonoke, and Pulaski.
Assistance may help pay uninsured or underinsured losses such as home repair for disaster-related damage, rental assistance, reimbursement for lodging expenses for individuals whose home was inaccessible or unhabitable during the disaster, medical expenses incurred from this disaster or other disaster-related needs.
Individuals and households who have immediate or critical needs because they are displaced from their primary dwelling by the recent tornadoes on March 31 in Arkansas may be eligible for a special FEMA financial assistance program, Critical Needs Assistance.
Lifesaving and life-sustaining items are covered by the program. This includes, but is not limited to, water, food, first aid, prescriptions, infant formula, diapers, consumable medical supplies, durable medical equipment, personal hygiene items, and fuel for transportation.
To apply for FEMA assistance, add information or check the status of your application, visit disasterassistance.gov or call 800-621-3362. I
Arkansas Recovery Website
On April 3, Arkansas launched helparkansas.com, a one-stop website for tornado recovery resources.
This website includes information on federal, state, local, and charitable resources for tornado victims, as well as volunteer and charity opportunities for Arkansans seeking to help.
The USDA Rural Development announced in early April that Home Repair Grant Limits have increased in response to the March 31 severe storms and tornadoes.
Funding is available through USDA Rural Development’s Single Family Housing Home Repair Loan and Grant program that helps income-eligible homeowners in rural communities make Grant limits have been increased from $10,000 to $40,675 in the FEMA-designated counties (Cross, Lonoke and Pulaski) for residents that are eligible to apply for financial and direct services.
For information on how to apply for the Home Repair Program, visit the Arkansas Rural Development website at https://www.rd.usda.gov/ar or call the Arkansas Rural Development Disaster Hotline at 501-301-3211, Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Increased grant limits are available until Sept. 28.
Arkansas storm survivors now have until July 31, to file various federal individual and business tax returns and make tax payments.
This means that individuals and households that reside or have a business in Cross, Lonoke and Pulaski counties qualify for tax relief.
For more information visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-arkansas-storm-victims-qualify-for-tax-relief-april-18-deadline-other-dates-extended-to-july-31.
HUD is implementing federal disaster relief for the state of Arkansas to assist state and local recovery efforts for areas affected by severe storms and tornadoes.
Effective immediately, HUD is:
Providing a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) as well as foreclosures of mortgages to Native American borrowers guaranteed under the Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee program. There is also a 90-day extension granted automatically for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages. The moratorium and extension are effective as of the President’s disaster declaration date.
Homeowners affected by the disaster should contact their mortgage or loan servicer immediately for assistance. Conventional mortgage holders may also be eligible for additional relief through their mortgage holder.
Call the FHA Resource Center at 1-800-304-9320 for additional information. To learn more about disaster relief options for FHA homeowners visit the FHA Disaster Relief site.
Small Business Administration: Applicants (businesses, most private non-profits, homeowners and renters) for low-interest disaster loan may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on SBA disaster assistance.
Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
Agricultural Producers: For loans and grants please contact Farm Services Agency to recover from losses, visit https://www.farmers.gov/recover/disaster-tool#step-1.
The cleanup process in the aftermath of the March 31 severe storms continues across the state. Many people are displaced from their homes and it’s possible pets and livestock are displaced as well.
The state departments of Health and Agriculture are stepping in to help. If you have displaced, injured or missing pets or livestock due to the March 31 severe weather outbreak, please call 501-332-2000.
Tornado relief number for North Little Rock residents, 501-906-5014
Newly renovated museum has ribbon-cutting planned for Saturday
The Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock is no more.
But something bigger and better is taking its place as the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts will celebrate a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. this Saturday.
At a cost of more than $160 million, the newly renovated museum is 133,000 square feet of gleaming space and will include a Performing Arts Theater, Windgate Art School and the Cultural Living Room, among other attractions.
There’s a total of eight galleries that have been endowed by Harriet and Warren Stephens.
Harriet Stephens served as the chair of the museum’s Building Committee while Warren Stephens served as chair of the Foundation Board.
The named galleries include:
Galleries Fine Arts Club New Media Gallery recognizes the Fine Arts Club.
Berta and John Baird Gallery honors Berta Baird, President of the Fine Arts Club.
Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery named in memory of the former Arkansas governor, for his generosity as a private citizen in championing the Arkansas Arts Center.
Jeannette Edris Rockefeller Gallery named in memory of Mrs. Rockefeller who worked to bring the Arkansas Arts Center to life.
Townsend Wolfe Gallery commemorates the museum’s longtime executive director and chief curator, from 1968 through 2002,.
Jackson T. Stephens Gallery is named in memory of businessman and philanthropist Jack Stephens, Warren’s father, and whose personal collection is on loan to the museum.
Little Rock Gallery is dedicated to the citizens of Little Rock who supported the museum’s mission.
The Harriet and Warren Stephens Family Gallery honors their children, their spouses, and their grandchildren, for inspiring them to co-chair the Reimagining of the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts Capital Campaign for their generations of Arkansans and those to follow.
There’s a week-long set of events to celebrate, the Museum siad in a press release before its official opening on Tuesday, May 2.
The events include:
On Sunday, April 23, Design and Construction Appreciation Day
Monday, April 24, School Day at the Museum with the participation of schools from the Little Rock, North Little Rock, Pulaski County Special school districts
Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30, Member Weekend
Saturday, April 29, A Toast Together
On Tuesday, May 2, Regular museum hours will begin at 10 a.m. with close at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Sunday hours are from noon to 5 p.,m. With the facility being closed on Monday,
The museum is located at MacArthur Park in Little Rock.
The Argenta Community Theater will present Cinderella with performances continuing through April 29
There’s a total of 14 performances with evening shows starting at 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m.
Tickets are on sale at ArgentaCommunityTheater.org, and prices start at $25.
Playing Cinderella is Kristen Phantazia Smith and Caleb Allen stars as the Prince.
For group sales, call Sydney Wolfe or John Broadwater at 501-353-1443.
Lanterns light today
Despite the exceedingly bad weather forecast, Lanterns is still scheduled to debut at Wildwood Center for the Arts in rural west Little Rock today.
It is Wildwood’s biggest event and features food, drinks and entertainment from around the world. The rain plan is that if any day of the festival is rained out, the event will be extended an additional day to Sunday, April 23. Tickets from any day that was rained out will be honored on this day.
Lanterns starts today and runs through Saturday, April 22.
Online tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and teens, 5 to 17, and those 5 and under are free.
Tickets at the gate can also be purchased but will be $15 for adults, while children will remain at $5 and those 5 and under will still be free.
On Thursday and Saturday, gates open at 5:30 p.m with vistas starting at 6 p.m. and the festival ends at 10 p.m.
Saturday, gates and vistas open at 4 p.m. with close being at 10 p.m.
No parking inside the park – pedestrians only
Overflow Parking on Denny Road
The Promenade Shopping Center: A Complimentary Shuttle will run all evening between The Promenade and Wildwood Park for the Arts. The Promenade pick up/drop off point is behind the store Altered State. The Wildwood pick up/drop off point will be near the Main Gate.
No baseball at Dickey-Stephens this week
Road Trip, Now through April, 23: At Frisco
Six-game home series with Tulsa
Tuesday, April 25, 11:05 a.m.
School Day. Presented By Mathnasium
Treasure Hunt Tuesday, Presented By Arkansas Auditor of State
Wednesday, April 26, 6:35 p.m.
Dog Days of Summer: Human fans can get $3 Berm tickets by bringing their dog to the game and only available at the Box Office. NOTE: Dogs are only allowed in the Berm areas | Presented By Moix RV Supercenter
Thursday, April 27, 6:35 p.m.
$3 Thursday: Enjoy $3 Beer Garden Tickets and Concessions deals, including Hot Dogs, Soft Drinks, Red Bull, Cotton Candy, and a Select Canned Beer & Seltzer! | Presented By Red Bull
Friday, April 28, 7:05 p.m.
Fireworks. Presented By Travel Nurse Across America
Saturday, April 29, 7:05 p.m.
Dizzy's Birthday Bash: Join us in celebrating everyone's favorite ballpark pup! (NOTE: Dogs are only allowed in the grass Berm areas)
Kids Run the Bases. Presented By Museum of Discovery
Sunday, April 30, 1:35 p.m.
Pre-Game Brunch Buffet: Get a special Brunch ticket that comes with a Field Reserved seat! Buffet will include select breakfast foods, juice, coffee, and soft drinks. (Alcohol will be available for purchase separately.) Food will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. | Presented By Picnic Brunch
Kids Baseball Clinic: Kids 13 and under are invited to join Travs players on field for a baseball clinic starting at noon! | Presented By Hog Wash
Kids Run the Bases. Presented By Museum of Discovery
Operation: Military Appreciation: Service Members get $3 off General Admission and Field Reserved tickets by presenting a Military ID (only available at DSP Box Office) | Presented By Mid-South Ford Dealers
Family Sunday: Get $2 General Admission tickets by presenting a physical or digital church bulletin and only available at the Box Office.