A big portion of the money needed to repair the roof of the Saenger Theatre has been received. Before the historic theater can stage a show, the roof must go on so that other required improvements can be made.
Pine Bluff Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr., joined by local state legislators and Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District officials, has accepted a $16,000 SEADD grant to initiate roof repairs at the Saenger, located between Main and Pine streets on West Second Avenue.
The city recently acquired ownership of the structure in an accord with the Old Towne Centre Theatres Inc., the nonprofit group that had been seeking to preserve and restore the Saenger, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The grant represented state general improvement funds that had been appropriated to SEADD by the General Assembly. The total roof project cost is estimated at $36,000, including $16,000 in state monies; $15,000 in miscellaneous city funds; and $5,000 from the non-profit, which attempted to raise money to replace the theaterís roof for much of 2011. Supporters hoped that transferring ownership to the city and contributing state and municipal funds to the project will allow the work to get started. Without a roof replacement, the structure could soon be beyond repair, supporters warned.
Bury the hatchet
The running dispute between Gould Mayor Earnest Nash Jr. and four of the Lincoln County municipalityís six aldermen must end.
City employees, including Nash, have not been paid because Nash is refusing to accept the city councilís appointment of a new recorder-treasurer and the aldermen are refusing to sign any checks.
Former recorder-treasurer Mary Prewett, who was appointed to fill the position last February, resigned on Dec. 9, saying she was ďafraidĒ of Nash.
The council voted to appoint Pam Barley-Gibson to the recorder-treasurerís position. Nash has refused to accept the appointment and had the locks changed on the recorder-treasurerís City Hall office.
We have lost track of the number of Nash vetoes. He rejected Barley-Gibsonís second appointment by the four aldermen earlier this month.
The four could try again at the councilís next regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 14. It might be too much to expect the municipal warfare to end on Valentineís Day.
Last phase starts
Construction began Jan. 16 on the second and final phase of the terminal remodeling project at Grider Field, Pine Bluffís municipal airport. The $439,000 project is estimated to take six months.
Questions about whether the city would provide the matching funds for the project delayed the work for more than a year.
The building was built in the 1960s and had not undergone a significant remodel since. During work on the first phase in 2010, the outside of the building and many of the public spaces inside were remodeled.
Eighty percent of the funding comes from the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics and 20 percent from the municipality.
The USDA has adopted new guidelines for the federally backed school meals program. That means school cafeterias will be serving more nutritious meals with twice as many fruits and vegetables, more whole grains and less sodium and fat.
The food industry lobbied Congress so the meals will continue to include pizza and French fries.
The guidelines kick in for lunches with the start of the next school year and cover breakfast and lunch. Schools that participate in the federal program must provide a larger mix of fruits and vegetables daily. In return, the schools get a larger federal subsidy on the cost of the food.
We wonder if students were polled about the extra vegetables.