White Hall Mayor Noel Foster shared several announcements during his State of the City address on Jan. 22 before the City Council.

Among them was that Police Chief Richard Wingard will retire on May 31.

“Chief Wingard has served this community in many roles as a community volunteer and police officer for over 30 years,” Foster said. “The city appreciates Chief Wingard and his family for their service and sacrifice for the citizens of White Hall.”

Foster told the council that it has been “an honor and privilege to begin his third term as mayor.”

The address also noted that in 2018, the White Hall Public Works Department received a matching grant for improvements to White Hall City Park from the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.

This allowed construction of American Disabilities Association compliant entryways for the park, new walking trails, sod and a seat wall in front of the amphitheater. 

Additionally, the Public Works crew removed the old walking trails, replaced culverts under Anderson Avenue, added underground electrical boxes and hauled away trees and debris from the park.

The Public Works crew also replaces two drainage culverts under West Little Lane, picked up approximately 300 yards of leaves from residents for the compost/recycling program and loaded then distributed 60 yards of compost.

The city continued mowing and maintenance work along Interstate 530, Highway 270, Highway 256 and along city streets in efforts to keep the city clean.

“Keeping our parks, city buildings, and city property clean and well maintained is a priority,” Foster said in his address. “It’s amazing how the little things can impacts the city’s overall image. The public works crew does an excellent job, and handles any task that we give them.”

Foster also noted that the White Hall Volunteer Fire Department did an exceptional job in 2018. The department is composed of two fire stations with 25 firefighters and eight fire apparatus. The department answered a total of 126 calls within the city limits and five mutual aid calls outside of the city.

“Over the past few years, the department has had many improvements and advances to ensure the best possible service to the community,” Foster said. “The department has continued to demonstrate the best that White Hall has to offer.”

Foster also said that Mark Rongey was named “Volunteer Fireman of the Year.”

Additionally, Foster said that 2018 was an “active and rewarding” year for the White Hall Police Department. The department currently consists of 16 full-time officers, with four of those being school resource officers. There are also two administrative assistants and 12 Auxiliary Officers.

The city purchased a school K-9 officer named “Leo,” who is assigned to Officer Jim Hoffman. Foster noted that Hoffman is a veteran handler, and his experience has proven useful in local schools.

Additionally, school resource officers have taught drug, alcohol and tobacco programs in the White Hall School District.

Part time officers volunteered 1,500 hours, working school activities, baseball and softball events, Founders Day and White Hall City Park activities. Auxiliary officer Eddie Powell was named “Volunteer Officer of the Year.”

Foster also said that the James “Jitters” Morgan Community Center has had four successful years and is frequently utilized for special events. Many in the community also enjoy the indoor walking track.

Crenshaw Springs Water Park has approximately 21,000 visitors in 2018, and provided approximately 50 jobs to young people, providing a positive impact to the community.

The address noted that the White Hall Museum has been busy with school groups touring and learning about the history of the city, in addition to noting that the City of White Hall continues to rank in the Top 10 best places to raise a family, and is one of Arkansas’ safest cities to live in.

Foster also offered thanks to the White Hall Chamber of Commerce for their sponsorship, volunteers, and hard work to support Founder’s Day and other events throughout the year. He also noted thanks to the public employees and volunteers who make progress possible, and who help make White Hall such a great community.

Thanks was also offered to the White Hall City Council, City Clerk/Treasurer Ellen Welch, and City Attorney Tom Owens for their hard work in helping to guide the city in the right direction for future success.

Also during the Jan. 22 council meeting, aldermen approved two ordinances with unanimous votes.

The first ordinance waives the requirements of obtaining competitive bids to purchase police vehicles. The ordinance was passed due to the City of White Hall’s desire to purchase vehicles from a local vendor.

Foster now has the authorization to purchase police vehicles at or near the state fair-market value.

The second ordinance was a zoning ordinance that straightens out a property line in a lot located next to Huddle House on Sheridan Road. Previous to the ordinance, the property line ran diagonal across the property. The front section along Sheridan Road is zoned as commercial property, while the back section is zoned residential.