By Cherokee Village Mayor Russell Stokes
A month into 2022 and not much has changed regarding the impact of Covid 19 on our lives. We are experiencing a high rate of infection with the new variant while we adapt to the changes that the virus has brought into our lives. Lately, it has infected city personnel and some key workers have been unable to work due to the virus which has affected responding to some citizen needs. Hopefully, this situation will improve and work can return to its normal level. Obviously, supply chain issues and rising costs coincide with the increase in virus based illness and has delayed our ability to obtain needed supplies or equipment in some cases. Our strategy of adapting will determine current personal progress and our ability to meet any challenges. Last month I shared the vaccination rate for our area plus adjoining counties. These are the Arkansas Department of Health current county statistics; reporting persons fully vaccinated: Fulton—33 percent, Independence—45 percent, Izard—39 percent, Lawrence—49 percent, Randolph—43 percent, and Sharp—36 percent. For additional information view the department’s website. Also, if you are interested in the government sponsored free N95 mask, contact your local pharmacy and for a free home test kit the website: special USPS.com/testkits; limited to one per household.
As of February 1, Spring will be only 49 days away. Winter is still with us and hopefully our remaining weather will not yield the most disliked events of freezing rain, sleet, or heavy snow. Again as a reminder, our main roads and emergency responder accesses are plowed first before residential streets are plowed. Do not venture out if road conditions are hazardous. During one of our most recent storms we had 15 vehicles off the road in less than a quarter mile stretch over a period of three hours. Remember our streets are hilly and curvy and very difficult to drive under hazardous conditions.
The regularly scheduled council meeting was postponed a week due to the virus. At the meeting the council re-elected Rob Smith as Mayor Pro-tem and reaffirmed council procedures for the year. Also, several budget amendments were approved in order to balance department accounts for 2021. Additi0nally, the council approved removing a piece of equipment-34 foot inhabitable trailer; from the city asset list and to advertise it for competitive bid. The council will be having a workshop meeting to discuss several issues on February 14th at 6:30p.m.
There have been questions raised about the Fire Department’s ability to respond due to the loss of personnel to retirement and budget cuts. Our new Chief, Kal Dienst has made shift changes and taken other actions to insure that the department will continue to operate in an effective and efficient manner to meet the needs of our community. When reviewing the department’s yearly report, the majority of their calls dealt with assisting EMS or aiding with personal health issues which usually involved the elderly. Thus, I advise citizens to observe appropriate health practices and travel safely in our city.