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Russellville Loves Bright and Shiny but Sometimes Votes for Dull


If you missed September's City Council meeting held on the 15th then, boy oh boy, are you in for a treat.


But, first, let's jump back in time. In 2014 we get a Buffalo Wild Wings, or BDubs as we lovingly refer to it. We collectively lose our minds and eat all the soft pretzels and beer cheese. In 2019 Buffalo Wild Wings abruptly shuts down, rumors fly, we collectively lose our minds again. A good 5 year run that could have lasted many more- but what caused this problem? Why did our bright and shiny leave us? It might be due to it being grossly mismanaged.


Unrelated but relevant, let's jump back a little further. In July of 1980, Arkansas Tech University introduced their Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) degree. Their mission- "to provide quality education in hospitality administration, build a foundation for professional growth and development and encourage lifelong learning."


Now we're caught up to the present, but why should we care about a hospitality degree at Arkansas Tech? Is it because ATU is the largest singular employer in the city with 1,477 employees? Is it because ATU accounts for nearly $51,000,000 in payroll that goes into our community? Or is it that ATU brings in roughly 11,000 students every semester, across 89 degree offerings, that get to experience life as a Russellvillian? I think it's a mixture.


"But what does that have to do with September's City Council meeting?"


Well first we must discuss the August City Council meeting.


[50:27] Consideration of an ordinance for a private club permit - River Valley Hospitality No. 1

Mr. Harrell wanted a discussion because it "did not list a specific location" on the application.


Mr. Westcott clarified it did, actually, have an address- 1509 N Boulder Ave.

Mr. Armstrong, a representative of the applicant, explained that the application lists the 1509 N Boulder Ave address where they receive mail because the "ABC Director clarified that her interpretation of the rules were that there would need to be a separate permit for each premises." Meaning River Valley Hospitality would have to go back and decide which building on Tech campus the permit would apply to.

Williamson Hall is where the managing agent resides and where the permit was going to be transferred when the previous location, Lakeside Resort, was sold. Due to Williamson Hall burning down around this same time, the permit lapsed without a location to attach to and the license was lost. Students in the hospitality course were not getting the course they should have. Seems pretty straight forward to me.

They had a motion for the first of two readings. There were 6 yes, 2 no.


Ordinances need a roll call stating everyone's vote when it's not unanimous. Mr. Harrell and Mrs. Carruth voted no, but the motion passed and the first reading was completed. [1:05:03]


Now for a brief rundown of the September City Council meeting.




As you can see the chamber momentarily entered into a "who's on first" situation that kept them from advancing to the next agenda item.


What you don't see in the above thread is the nearly 20 minute discussion on this agenda item.



Here is the play-by-play: Mr. Tripp proposes moving forward with the first of two readings. Why two? He believes the public should be made aware of the final ordinance before they vote. Which, he's not wrong. That is definitely how ordinances are meant to be handled at this stage. "The whole purpose of an ordinance is for reading and publication and notification to the public. We at least need to give it the 30 day due diligence process time for the information to be made public." Keep in mind- this information has been made public for over a month at this point.


Enter Susan West whose class is directly affected by the delay of this ordinance. Currently, her course is all over the place. Literally. "We have to rent vans, hire a driver, we've been to ArkaValley, we have to drive to breweries where if we have that educational requirement within our classroom at Williamson Hall we would be able to conduct the course there." Alcohol service is part of the food and beverage industry. It's not a new concept.

"Realistically you're asking for the ability to do what you've virtually always done, for years and years and years, with no hiccups, no problems, no concern, no heartache to the public benefit." Mr. Westcott gets it.


Also in those 20 magical minutes Mr. Gray clarified even further that the only change from the first application to the current application was the removal of a name so that the permit wasn't tied to an individual, but to the institution. A recommendation made by the agency that will be granting said permit. So, same document just with a name removed. Same document.... but remove a name.


I think you're catching on.


To clear up any confusion left lurking in the corners of the room, City Attorney Mr. Smith stated it would be perfectly legal to pass the reading to approve the "new" application on one reading. Okay. We've got it now. Same document. Mr. Tripp makes a motion to move forward with one of two readings. It passes.


Nooooo. We apparently don't "got it". After moving on to new business and voting to vacate a portion of a street Mr. Westcott then makes the motion to read this ordinance one time and one time only.




Yeah. Talk about a record scratch. Mr. Keller proceeds to launch into a beautiful display of what we need more of on city council- making consistency and being respectful of the community's time a priority. (Watch it in all its beauty here. Seriously, watch it)



Mr. Keller then tries one more time to move the approval of the hospitality's ordinance forward.


You'll never guess what happens. Go ahead. Guess.


Yup. It passed! Jk it failed.


For a citizenry that occasionally appears to idolize the bright and shiny, we sure do elect some people that actively try to dull our city. This ordinance should have sailed through so that Tech could resume their courses that "provide quality education in hospitality administration" and keep our beloved BDubs open. Because when you have an educated, well-trained crew running things, they don't deliver drugs to unsuspecting family's out for a night on the town. [see photo below]


We should care about Tech. We should care about how we respond to situations brought on by technicalities and misfortune. We should care about making this community as prosperous and full of opportunities as we can stand.


Everything is connected and voting for who is on your city's council is the best way to keep those connections healthy.


Early voting starts October 24th. Vote Young.


**Please keep in mind I have no idea what I'm talking about I just thrive on googling and researching things I'm passionate about.**

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