Ripley City Council proceeds toward goal of erecting waste water treatment plant

Suzette Lowe
Special to Jackson Newspapers

Ripley City Council moved one step closer towards the goal of building a state-of-the-art waste water treatment plant.

John Stump, the city’s bond attorney from the law firm Steptoe & Johnson, presented council members Danny Martin, Bryan Thompson, Carolyn Waybright, John McGinley and Rick Buckley, with the proposed ordinance authorizing payment of construction costs. The amount in the proposal, $24.06 million dollars, is higher than the expected cost.

“We made the total higher in case there are unexpected issues or if the bids come in higher than we hope,” Stump explained.

He went on to clarify that the amount includes payment of a 2019 note for another project, along with pre-construction costs for the treatment plant.

The ensuing discussion centered around concerns about the availability of materials and contractors.

“With the American Rescue Plan Act providing funds for infrastructure plus other state projects, there may not be enough contractors,” Stump said. “But by having this document in its first reading, you all are way ahead of the game. You’ll be ready to move forward once the final reading is done.”

The proposal requires three readings, the last of which follows a public hearing. The next reading will be Tuesday, Jan. 18, with the public hearing and final reading on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

The facility will be built on the Academy Drive acreage purchased in 2020.

City of Ripley Municipal Building

Parking meters may go back to their original status if an agreement cannot be reached with the PayByPhone company. Currently each meter in downtown Ripley has the option of payment through a phone app. The contract with the company requires a minimum monthly payment of $250.

“We are not able to guarantee that much income each month,” said Tom Armstead, city clerk.

Council agreed with Armstead’s suggestion of negotiating with the company to remove the minimum fee.

“I hope we can work something out,” said Mayor Carolyn Rader. “I know some people really like the option of paying with the app rather than with coins.”

Two city offices are also looking to the future.

Ripley Chief of Police Brad Anderson said he is currently compiling a list of police officer candidates.

“I’m anticipating losing two officers in the next few months and I want to be prepared,” he said.

Chief Water Operator Brian Arthur asked council to consider hiring an operator in training at a future date. This person will train for three years to attain the level of Class II water operator.

After adjourning to an executive session at 7:40 p.m. for personnel reasons, council adjourned. During that session, Ripley Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rick Gobble asked to address council concerning personnel.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m. at the municipal building.