Lincoln council member counsels colleagues


LINCOLN -- The newest member of the Lincoln City Council urged his colleagues last week to work out any differences and not attack each other during meetings.

David McBride was appointed in April 2021 to fill a vacancy for the Ward 4, Position 1 seat.

Following roll call for the Jan. 19 meeting, McBride asked if he could address the council, though he acknowledged he is one of the newest members on the council and a bit of an outsider.

"I've been thinking a lot about things," McBride said. "I've been a part of many boards and committees in the past, and I've noticed one thing: Everybody at some point disagrees about something. Disagreement, discussions, differences are healthy to finding solutions, and attacks against one another are not. Attacks destroy bridges to agreements and solutions."

McBride did not name any council members, but over the past year, there have been a few arguments and sharp remarks back and forth among some council members about different issues or comments.

Mayor Doug Hutchens at times has had to call a "point of order" because of comments made.

McBride said he's learned during the past year that each of the council members has a passion for Lincoln and wants Lincoln to be a better place to live.

"You're on this council for one reason. You've given your time and your efforts for this city to improve, and I commend you for that," he said.

McBride, retired as pastor of The Sanctuary in Lincoln, said he was not "preaching" a sermon but said the council's responsibility is to safeguard the city.

"Each of you has a strong voice, but attacking one another silences that voice," McBride said.

He encouraged council members to work out any differences and if they hear something about the mayor or another council member, to have the courtesy to go to them and ask questions.

"You'll be surprised," he said. "Often there is a reason or explanation."

Lincoln and its citizens are facing many challenges, McBride said, adding he believes the council is up to the challenges if the members will all work together.

After the meeting, Hutchens said he appreciated McBride's remarks.

"We want to kick off the new year with a clean slate," Hutchens said. "It's been a long 18½ months with covid and having to have the meetings the way we are."

The council has done most of its business in monthly meetings, instead of through committees, because of covid and other issues dealing with technology. Hutchens said he thinks this has prevented more casual interaction between council members who serve on those committees.

"I think he (McBride) wanted to make everyone think about the direction we're going with the community," Hutchens said.

Hutchens said sharp comments and remarks do not accomplish anything.

Turning to the agenda for the meeting, council members approved:

• An ordinance to amend the personnel policy to remove all references to the wording "compensatory leave." The council about two years ago abolished comp time and said employees had to be paid for overtime worked. City attorney Steve Zega said this clears up the ordinance so there is not any confusion.

• An ordinance to codify a fee for street cuts. The city already had this fee, but it was not written in an ordinance. The fee for a gravel street cut is $10 per square foot, and the fee for a paved street cut is $15 per square foot. Council member Billy Rusher voted against this ordinance.

• An ordinance to amend the line item in the 2022 budget for property insurance for the Water Department. City Business Manager Rhonda Hulse said she increased the budget for this line item but not enough. Rusher voted against this ordinance.

Under committee and other reports, council member Terry Bryson, who chairs the Planning Commission, said he plans to seek guidance from the Arkansas Municipal League on "spot rezoning" for several lots in the city limits. These are lots that are zoned R-1 but do not fit that zone, Bryson said.

During the public comment period, Ashley Wright, who lives on Brenda Avenue, asked the council to reconsider installing a speed bump to slow down traffic.

The city purchased a digital traffic sign about two years ago and placed that on Brenda Avenue to gather information about traffic because of complaints about speeding vehicles.

Wright said a cut made in the road recently because of a sewer issue has decreased traffic on Brenda Avenue and reduced the number of people using it as a through street. The cut essentially is serving as a speed bump, she said.

Wright asked city officials to look at the data from the sign and come to a permanent solution to help residents on the street.