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Nashville council revisits solar project

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By Louie Graves

News-Leader staff

The Nashville City Council revisited the idea of a solar project Monday night at its regular meeting for June, and this time the revamped idea was received more favorably.

No vote was taken because only six of the 12-member council were present, but Mayor Billy Ray Jones indicated that there might be a called meeting for possible action.

At the council’s meeting for May, no vote was taken, but casual comments by council members showed little enthusiasm.

Skip Woessner of the McKinistry company made a different sale pitch this week, and casual comments by the council showed a possible change of heart.

The revamped project would be able to use some of the city’s land near the wastewater treatment plant, instead of possibly buying a site from the mayor. The costs would significantly lower if the city assumed some maintenance costs and the size of the solar ‘farm’ was scaled down to one megawatt.

Over slightly more than 18 years, the city will ‘sell’ solar power to the electric utility and pay for the project’s costs. After that time, the solar income will pay for the city’s regular electric bills. Woessner guaranteed that the company would make up any difference in projected savings and the real electric bill.

Council members will study Woessner’s chart of projected expenses and savings.

“We’ll do this or put it to rest in the next 30 days,” Mayor Billy Ray Jones said. The mayor said he was much more receptive to the company’s new proposal.

Bridge projects

Public Works Director Larry Dunaway told the council that the closed Howard Street bridge over Mine Creek could now be rebuilt because the city’s bridge-contractor had found steel beams at a reasonable cost. A new bridge calls for eight lengths of 90-ft. steel beams.

The builder who will install a new bridge at the Primary School will also be the builder for the Howard St. project. Work on the Primary School bridge could begin within 3-4 weeks, Dunaway said.

Among city projects updated by Dunaway were the completion of the emergency spillway at Lake Nichols, and the lingering proposed sidewalk linking Fourth Street to the city park.

Dunaway said he had talked with some residents on one of the proposed routes, and repeated that no route had been selected. He predicted that a number of residents would show up to express displeasure at the July council meeting.

He said that the route needed to stay along Sunset St. because of assistance of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.

Mayor Jones said that he and Dunaway had been in talks with the Union Pacific Railroad about re-opening the city street crossing at South Mill St. near the old ice plant, closed for more than a decade to accommodate the parking of grain cars for Pilgrim’s. The Pilgrim mill has now moved into a rural area north of Nashville and no longer keeps grain cars on local streets.

The mayor said that police and local residents wanted the street to be open again.

The mayor also told the council that he had been in talks with a tv/internet cable company about expanding service around Nashville.

Present for the June meeting were: Mayor Jones, City Recorder Mary Woodruff, City Financial Director Kimberly Green; and aldermen Joe Hoen, Nick Davis, Vivian Wright, Kay Gathright, Carol Mitchell and Cathy Combs.