We have several venues to watch almost any type of programming imaginable. There’s regular television, satellite, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, and on and on. But there’s nothing quite like watching a Maumelle City Council meeting video recording. You can watch any meeting at the Maumelle website, www.maumelle.org. Simply click on Elected Officials and scroll down to Videos. They are posted a few days after each meeting.


I have decided to make watching the Council meetings part of my service to you, my faithful Maumelle readers. It’s very unlikely you’ll ever attend a meeting and most likely I won’t either, but I’ll watch the videos and report my findings.


I remember a few years ago when then Council Member Preston Lewis proposed spending money to buy and install the video system and I opposed it, wondering what purpose would that serve. Well, now I know. The meetings are hard to sit through, even on video.


There was only a smattering of folks at the July 17 meeting I watched, plus a Boy Scout troop who were there as part of earning a merit badge in something. They looked miserable throughout the meeting. Maybe the merit badge was for Drudgery.


The meeting starting with a little banter between City Attorney Caleb Norris and Council Member John Vaprezsan. According to Vaprezsan, this is a regular “bet” between the two, predicting the length of the meeting based on the presented agenda. One of them said the meeting would last under 20 minutes. They lost the bet. It ran almost an hour.


Each meeting starts with a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and then the financial report. The financial report was delayed until the next meeting because the information was incomplete. The reason cited was the lack of a director of finance.


The bulk of the meeting was devoted to what seemed a simple matter, but turned unnecessarily complex. Council Member Rick Anderson introduced a request to form a committee to explore the possibility of installing an all-inclusive playground at one of the Maumelle park areas.


It was a request to form a committee to explore the possibility. First of all, what is an all-inclusive playground? I think most of us know, but two Council members acted as if they had never heard of such, even though the request was in the packet of information that they received a week before the meeting.


According to one manufacturer, an all-inclusive playground is a “fun-filled place where children can play together with their peers, family, friends, and neighbors without experiencing physical or social barriers to inclusion. Our design team considers play components that will challenge and accommodate typically developing children, as well as children with autism, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and other physical and developmental needs.” One Council member even asked the question, out loud, “Could regular people use the park?” Embarrassing.


The discussion droned on for what seemed like forever. Council Member Ken Saunders used the moment to conduct a congressional investigation about the meaning of an all-inclusive playground and questioning who would attend the meetings. Finally, after exhaustive discussion, it was decided that they could have a committee consisting of Council Members Anderson and Terry Williams, and a representative of the Maumelle Parks and Recreation staff. Three willing citizens have also agreed to serve on the committee. The meetings will be open to the public


I spoke with Anderson following the meeting and he said the next step was to meet with different vendors to start determining the cost of such a venture. The committee will be looking for grants and other funding to get the ball rolling. I suggested it would be a great time to contact Chick-fil-A as they prepare to open their Maumelle location. This is a great idea for Maumelle. Thanks to Anderson for leading the way to explore this possibility.


In other earth-shattering discussions at the Council meeting I watched, there was a first reading for an ordinance to prohibit cigarettes and ecigarettes at the new senior center. Although, they are going to allow employees who smoke to smoke in their cars. Maybe it’s time for some nicotine gum.


Speaking of financial officer, according to Mayor Mike Watson, Shannon Vega, who lives just outside of Maumelle in Country Club of Arkansas, has accepted the position as Director of Finance for the City of Maumelle. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting and is a CPA.


If you dare and would like to attend in person, the City Council meets the first and third Monday of each month (except holidays) at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, 550 Edgewood Drive, Suite 590.


RIP, Glen Campbell.


See you on the Boulevard. Stop the violence.


Neal Moore is a public relations and advertising consultant and freelance writer. If you have a community concern, Maumelle news tip or if you’re just irritated about something, contact him at neal.moore@sbcglobal.net. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.