Home Breaking News Nashville looks to join HoCo in change to solar energy

Nashville looks to join HoCo in change to solar energy

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By Louie Graves

News-Leader staff

On Monday night, the city of Nashville joined Howard County in making a sweeping change to solar energy.

Skip Wossner of the McKinistry company made virtually the same sales pitch to the Nashville City Council as he did several months ago to the Howard County Quorum Court. The county had voted to enter an agreement with McKinistry, and Monday night the Nashville council voted unanimously to spend $7,500 for an “Investment Grade Audit” by McKinistry. The county is already constructing a solar farm on the campus of the old Howard Memorial Hospital on West Leslie Street in Nashville.

At the council’s regular meeting for October, Wossner said that the city was already doing a good job in reducing its electricity use, and possibly would not realize as much in savings as the county will. He described the city’s “opportunity to achieve net zero electricity status,” by installation of a solar array on 30 acres near the wastewater treatment plant. Electricity from the array would be used directly to power the treatment plant, and the city could possibly realize a 25% savings in overall use of electricity.

Wossman also said that Arkansas was the fastest growing solar market in the country. He said his company was really in the construction business, but would also make financial arrangements for the city if an agreement is reached.

He did not give a date for the start or completion of the audit. After the audit is completed and data compiled, the city council will decide whether or not to go forward.

He speculated that the city’s cost could be about $3 million. Mayor Billy Ray Jones noted that the city’s annual expenditure for electricity was about $450,000.

A “new” firetruck

Fire Marshal Justin Thornton told the council that one of his goals was to improve the city’s ISO rating and thus lower fire insurance rates for businesses and residences. He brought insurance agency owner Ruth Steeley to the meeting, and she said that a town’s ISO rating directly affected the fire rates. An improved rating significantly affects rates, she said, giving examples of some neighboring cities.

Thornton said that to get an ISO reduction the city needed to have a ladder truck if there were five or more buildings that were at least 35-ft. tall. He said he drove around town with an ISO representative and stopped counting when he got to 14 such buildings.

The fire marshal asked the city to purchase a used ladder truck from a Texas dealership, and got a unanimous vote. The truck is a 1999 model with 37,000 miles. It had been owned by the city of Richardson, Texas, which has a policy of automatically replacing firetrucks after 20 years. Thornton said that the truck was already equipped with much expensive equipment.

Mayor Jones cautioned that the fire department would not be able to ask for significant purchases for a while.

ISO stands for Insurance Services Office, and Thornton told the newspaper Tuesday that the office grades cities on their fire suppression capability. He had told the council that the vehicle agency would not hold the truck, and the aldermen voted to go ahead with the purchase. Thornton told the newspaper that he was going to pick up the truck Tuesday morning.

Other business

The council heard from Code Enforcement Officer David Riggs who presented a resolution calling for the condemnation of a structure at 112 W. Lockesburg. The council voted unanimously to proceed with the condemnation.

Public Works Director Larry Dunaway gave the council an update on municipal projects ranging from sidewalks to paving to replacement of some bridges.

Of special interest was the repairs to the Lake Nichols high water spillway which was undercut by overflow during the July flash flood. A plan is still unsettled, but the estimated cost is $623,000 of which the state would pay 35%. The project could essentially re-route Mine Creek below the Lake Nichols dam.

Dunaway said that the city had to step back from a project involving chemical application at the water treatment plant and water line connection to the Ru-

ral Water Association line because of high bids. The project will undergo examination for ways to lower the cost.

Present for the meeting were council members Freddie Horne, Joe Hoen, Donna Harwell, Nick Davis, Monica Clark, Vivian Wright, Kay Gathright, James Parker, Carol Mitchell, Cathy Anderson Combs and Mike Milum. Also, Mayor Jones, PWD Director Dunaway, Code Enforcement Officer Riggs, City Clerk Mary Woodruff, Police Chief Amy Marion, Parks & Recreation Mark Dale.

The council bade farewell to Southwest Arkansas Radio reporter Jonathan Canaday who is changing careers.