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COST turns in 1,585 signatures by Monday deadline

A Sherwood city-imposed deadline of Monday at 5 p.m. for Citizens of Sherwood Together (COST) to get 1,413 valid signatures for the North Little Rock Electric city ordinance to be placed before city voters could very well have surpassed the necessary minimum.

COST Chairman Don Berry said he delivered an additional 266 signatures Monday morning, bringing the total number of signatures believed to be valid at 1,585. Berry said COST has delivered more signatures but some were rejected.

“Over 1700 total signatures have been presented since the beginning,” Berry said.

Berry said COST now is waiting on the city of Sherwood to notify the group that a sufficient number of signatures have been validated.

“We want this notification so we can move forward with a special election,” Berry said. “We are well in excess 1,414 total as determined by Angela Nicholson (Sherwood City Clerk) as was the requirement.”

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman said a special election would cost $25,000.

“That is a lot,” Hillman said.

The mayor added she is not sure what would be accomplished if the North Little Rock Electric ordinance gets put on a public ballot.

“The council could go back and choose the same provider,” Hillman said.

Hillman said she does not think the Sherwood City Council would feel pressured to pick either Entergy or First Electric Cooperative of Jacksonville if city voters reject the North Little Rock Electric ordinance.

Hillman added some people signed petitions because individuals gathering signatures kept insisting.

“Several people told me they didn’t know why they signed it,” Hillman said.

Before Monday, COST had garnered 1,162 valid signatures, according to Berry. Hundreds more had been turned in earlier this month but 299 had been invalidated by the city clerk’s office. Of the 299 that were invalidated, 122 were later deemed to be valid, he said.

Berry said signatures turned in Monday had Pulaski County voter registration forms attached to each of the packets.

“We wanted to move forward in the morning in case there was any inclement weather in the afternoon,” Berry said. “We wanted to be proactive.”

Berry said COST turns in the signatures to Assistant City Clerk Diana Burns because Nicholson was out of the office Monday because of the flu.

The prospect of possibly bringing the North Little Rock Electric ordinance to a public vote started in November after the Sherwood City Council voted on Nov. 26 to choose North Little Rock over Entergy or First Electric Coop.

According to state law, citizens have 30 days to gather signatures to place adopted municipal ordinances on a citywide ballot. On Dec. 27, about a dozen COST volunteers turned in about 1,500 signatures of registered city voters to place the North Little Rock ordinance to a public vote.

Berry said he favors Entergy because it has pledged to provide 7,000 homes with electric rates between 15-20 percent cheaper than North Little Rock Electric.

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