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The Mountain Home City Council will meet at City Hall at 5 p.m. this Thursday for its second bi-weekly council session for the year.
This will mark the council’s first meeting since updating their start times to 5 p.m.
Thursday’s meeting should be relatively short, with only two new items being covered by the council’s agenda. Both agenda items are resolutions to purchase new vehicles for the City of Mountain Home.
The first vehicle bid covers a 2024 Ford Maverick from Ultimate Ford in Mountain Home for a sum of $23,375 and the second bid covers a 2023 Dodge Ram 5500 Regular Cab 4×4 from a dealership in Heber Springs. The Dodge will cost a sum of $90,839.
While this week’s agenda is relatively light, the packet detailed several committee reports and included updates from Mountain Home Police Chief Eddie Griffin and Mountain Home Fire Chief Kris Quick.
On the MHFD side of the house, Quick notified the council that the fire department had focused on conducting preventive maintenance on its vehicles in Dec. Quick also noted that the department had conducted 3,284 runs in 2023, an increase of 109 over the 3,175 runs that MHFD conducted in 2022.
Around 57.56% of the department’s calls were rescue and emergency-related in November 2023. Only 3.54% of the fire department’s calls were for fires that month. For the fires that did occur in Mountain Home, three were for house fires while trash, vehicle, brush, grass and rubbish fires each received one call.
The department assisted in 12 motor vehicle accidents with injuries and one accident that had no injuries in November.
The average response time for all emergency calls within the city in November of last year was five minutes and fifty-four seconds from answering the phone until arriving at the scene. The department’s turnout time from departing the station on a call was two minutes and thirty-two seconds.
On the police side of the house, MHPD’s newest K-9, Mic, has officially reported for duty after completing training with Officer Rockie Morrell.
Crime was relatively low in November for MHPD, with only 38 reported cases coming into the station. Of those cases, the majority were for instances of fraud or theft within the city limits.
Throughout November, MHPD conducted seven funeral escorts, 49 welfare checks, 16 motor assists, 235 officer assists, 384 park checks, 30 school checks, 42 criminal arrests, 126 building checks, 105 incident reports, 327 traffic stops, 23 traffic arrests, and 26 animal calls.
The department also secured 260 weapons and issued 279 warnings.
On a more controversial note, Police Chief Griffin did notify Mountain Home Mayor Hillrey Adams and City Council that the department’s new traffic cameras had been installed around the city.
City Council’s approval of nine new public safety cameras in September of last year caused outrage with many members of the public.
The cameras, which are installed at intersections on State Hwy. 5N and U.S. Hwy 62B, 62B and Cardinal Dr., 62B and Club Blvd, State Hwy. 201 S. and the Sheid-Hopper Bypass, Hospital Dr. and State Hwy. 5 N., the west end of the bypass, the east end of the bypass, Arkansas Ave. and State Hwy. 201 N., and Cardinal Dr. and State Hwy. 5 S., cost taxpayers a one-time fee of $65,000.
At the time of the vote, many members of the public expressed concern over privacy rights, as the cameras were set to record those city intersections 24/7. City Council approved the measure in a 5-3 vote after several public debates that turned nasty at City Hall.
No facial recognition software has been installed with the cameras.
With the cameras now installed, MHPD will now be occasionally monitoring them to track down vehicles after a crime has been reported. The cameras will also be used to assist in missing person reports, Amber Alerts, and kidnapping cases.
The cameras will not be used to issue tickets for traffic violations.
The footage reported by the cameras will undergo regular audits by Griffin to ensure that they are not being abused by MHPD officers and dispatch. Data not used by the department will be removed after 20 days.
All footage is encrypted.
The full agenda for next Thursday’s council meeting can be found below.