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City Council clamps down on solicitors

n Second ordinance proposed on issue

By Bill Lawson

Staff Writer

The three Maumelle aldermen who held up the tough new law on solicitors at the last meeting couldn’t express their desire to vote for it soon enough Monday night.

As soon as it was called as an agenda item, Aldermen Rick Anderson, Steve Mosley and Caleb Norris all indicated they’d heard from their constituents and now were ready to support efforts to waive the rules to allow for passage Monday night. Both the ordinance and an emergency clause making it effective immediately passed without a descending vote.

The ordinance requires drivers who drive solicitors around to also get a solicitor’s license, as well as supervisors. An incident in April prompted the ordinance when a driver and a few solicitors actually fought with police trying to arrest other solicitors who did not have a solicitor’s permit which includes a background check.

Maumelle police chief Sam Williams said at the time that the driver had such an extensive criminal history that he couldn’t have passed a background check to obtain a permit. Police also charged him with possession of marijuana in that same incident and said he and a solicitor were actually smoking marijuana as they took solicitors around Maumelle neighborhoods.

Williams noted that a very similar incident occurred last week resulting in the arrest of more solicitors without permits and a man driving them around.

Mayor Mike Watson said the ordinance had been amended by Alderman Norris to define the definition of s solicitor. He said in the incident last week he didn’t believe either of the gentlemen charged would meet the definition of a solicitor.

City Attorney JaNan Davis said she saw a lot of solicitor cases in Maumelle District Court as the prosecutor.

In fact, she said she got into a discussion with a young man from Morrilton about how he became a solicitor and he told her he met the man who hired him in jail.

She also said many of the so-called solicitors are just “looking for someone else to set up a scheme.”

The permit fee for a company is $500 and $50 for an individual, she said.

Alderman Preston Lewis said he thought it was a safety issue and the council “needed to move fast.”

Norris also proposed a second solicitors ordinance, Watson said that he asked him to hold off and not confuse this issue with another.

Norris said his new proposed ordinance would establish a no solicitation list that residents could request to have their names placed on it an it that would be given to solicitors and include a penalty for soliciting someone on the list. It wouldn’t contain names but simply addresses, he said.

In other business the council approved a new ordinance amending the city’s master street plan to allow a curb cut on Odom Boulevard for the new Mountain Terrace Estates Phase two subdivisions.

In other business the council approved a resolution allowing Leisure Arts to participate in the tax back program.

It also approved a resolution allowing the city to dispose of an old weather warning system that is outdated and will be sold for scrap metal. The siren has been unusable since it was struck by lightening and is currently sitting behind Maumelle Fire Station Number 2, Watson said.

By far the longest discussion of the night centered on the long-standing disagreement between the city and Maumelle Water Management.

There was so much contention that the parties involved couldn’t even agree on a place to have a joint meeting. Mayor Mike Watson went out of his way to be agreeable with the water commission and suggested an informal meeting at a neutral site. See the related story.

Maumelle Justice of the Peace Paul Elliott briefed council members on several items of interest at the county level. He also sponsored an ordinance approved by the county to permit Leisure Arts to participate in the tax back program.

Elliott also told the council he had been selected to serve on the executive committee of the Association of Arkansas Counties Quorum Court.

Fred and Mary Peyton presented their annual scholarship to Katie Dobbins who plans to attend Hendrix College in Conway next fall.

Watson encouraged everyone to attend the Memorial Day ceremonies next Monday at 10 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial at Lake Willastein. He said Rob McGill, superintendent at Academics Plus Charter School and a retired Arkansas Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel, will be the featured speaker.

McGill served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an officer for the 39th Infantry Brigade that suffered the most combat losses of any unit in the state in wars since the Korean War.

Other local bands, groups and entertainers will also participate, he said.

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