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Schedules coming together for town hall meetings

Posted on February 28, 2019

Ward 1 event, parks hearing set for same time

By Tia Lyons
Staff Writer

The schedules are coming together for a series of town hall meetings that are being planned by members of the El Dorado City Council, with the first scheduled for Tuesday in Ward 1.

Council members are hosting the meetings at the behest of Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer, who said the town halls will not only offer residents the opportunity to meet their aldermen face-to-face, but also put city officials in closer touch with their constituents and the communities they represent.

The meetings will also be designed to inform residents about the roles and functions of city officials and the various city departments and services.

Moreover, residents will learn how to properly file grievances and complaints, and direct them to the appropriate city office or department, Smith-Creer has said.

Council members have set about scheduling one town hall meeting per month in each of the city’s four wards, though some changes have already been made and other modifications to the monthly schedule are likely.

After several starts, council members Mike Rice and Billy Blann, who represent Ward 1, have settled on 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Union County Fairgrounds, 1430 E. 19th.

Blann said he has heard some pushback from residents who noted that the town hall is scheduled for the same day and time as a public hearing that will be hosted by the El Dorado Parks and Playgrounds Commission in the Council Chamber of City Hall.

Commissioners are seeking input from El Dorado residents to help improve city parks and to draft a funding request for the El Dorado Works economic development tax, 6 percent of which is dedicated to public parks and playgrounds, including sports, recreation and outdoor venues and projects.

Smith-Creer apologized for the conflict during an El Dorado City Council meeting Feb. 21 and encouraged residents to choose which meeting they would like to attend.

City Clerk Heather McVay noted that parks and playgrounds commissioners scheduled the meeting after hours to allow more people the opportunity to attend. McVay said commissioners particularly would like to hear from youth and they were mindful of youth sports schedules when planning the meeting.

Ward 2 Council members Vance Williamson and Judy Ward have announced a town hall meeting for 5:30 p.m. April 16 in the South Arkansas Community College Library Auditorium, which is located in the college’s west campus, 300 S. West Ave.

A site has been selected for the Ward 3 town hall meeting but the date is still to be determined, Council Member Willie McGhee said. McGhee, who represents Ward 3, along with Council Member Andre Rucks, said the tentative location for the meeting will be the St. James Village Outreach Facility, 1308 E. Hillsboro.

As with Ward 3, a location — Morning Star Baptist Church, 2506 N. College — has been chosen for the town hall meeting in Ward 4. An announcement for the date and time is forthcoming, said Ward 4 council members Dianne Hammond and Paul Choate.

During the El Dorado City Council meeting Feb. 21, Rucks asked if more than one town hall could be held per month.

“I was thinking the same thing because in June, I don’t know how much response we’re going to have with children out of school and people going on vacations,” Hammond said.

Smith-Creer said council members could sort out the details and schedules for the meetings.

Once each ward has hosted a town hall, city officials will evaluate how the meetings went and make any necessary tweaks, she said, adding, “I hope people don’t think we’re going to do one and be done with it. We want this to become an ongoing thing.”

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@