By Ray King

With no dissent, the Pine Bluff City Council on Monday approved resolutions to extend the existing sewer line on along the Olive Street, Highway 63 South corridor south of its intersection with I-530 with the goal of improving planned and future commercial development.

Also approved was a resolution permitting the Mayor to contract with a Tennessee company to replace the 60-year-old main sewer line that runs across the Arkansas River and prevent the potential for millions of gallons of raw sewage to enter the Arkansas River.

After the meeting, Council member Bruce Lockett talked about the two projects.

Wastewater Utility manager Ken Johnson said the work will also involve work at the Kansas Street pump station and is projected to take about a year to complete. Wastewater Utility and the Economic and Community Development Department worked together to find funding for the project, which will cost $10,580,542.66 and “with no burden to taxpayers,” Johnson said.

Regarding the South Olive Street project, Economic and Community Development Director Larry Matthews said it is expected to be completed in 60 days.

The announcement last week that former Urban Renewal Agency director Maurice Taggart and a Texas man had been charged with the theft of more than $667,000 from the agency over a two-year period sparked a call from Council Member Glen Brown Sr., for legislation to stop funding the agency but City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott shot that down by saying that there was no legislation dealing with that on the agenda.

The topic also figured into public comments as former Council member and current NAACP president Ivan Whitfield asked the council to dissolve Urban Renewal.

After the meeting, Whitfield spoke with Deltaplex News.

Speaking for Urban Renewal were its current director, Chanda Griffin, board president Jimmy Dill, and Go Forward Pine Bluff CEO Ryan Watley.