Speaking of varmints. Occasionally the Maumelle District Court will have some pretty bad people come through, but lately some pretty nasty varmints have taken up residence. Rats.

The court was closed for a couple of days last week while the situation was evaluated by city officials. I asked Mayor Mike Watson about it. He replied:

“Several weeks ago, court staff contacted Jack Stowe (assistant to the mayor) about an issue with rodents and our contracted pest control service was called to address the situation, I was not aware of that request. The court staff reported a smell to officials at City Hall on Tuesday afternoon immediately before Court was to start.

“They did not hold Court on Tuesday afternoon (July 31). The judge (Judge Rita Bailey) sent her employees home because of the smell on Wednesday morning. I went to look at the building on Wednesday and I detected a slight odor, but it did not smell like something dead to me. There were some rodent droppings on a stairway leading upstairs but there is no way to determine how long the droppings had been there since the stairway is not lighted and not used on a regular basis, so it is hard to determine the numbers of rodents.”

Fast forward to Monday of this week. It was decided and announced at the City Council meeting that the current building housing the court and a former fire station will be closed, although employees were still working there on Tuesday. The court moved to the City Hall building on Tuesday and held court in the City Council meeting room.

The plan is to move the court and its offices downstairs into the space formerly occupied by the Senior Center, which has now moved into its new location. I believe the eventual plan is to raze the old building and sell the lot on the open market.

I also asked the Mayor where the city was on remodeling City Hall, which includes housing District Court, into that building. It’s been a few years since the city approved the bond for the project:

“It is mainly just having adequate time to manage multiple construction projects at the same time,” Watson said. “Even when a project ends, there are close-out documents, final punch list items to verify and warranty issues that extend several months after the construction ends.”

“We have requested RFQ’s (requests for qualifications) for the architect to design the City Hall project. As soon as the architect is selected, and the contract negotiated, the design can begin. The basement of City Hall was to be used to relocate City Hall staff while the upstairs is renovated. If Court moves into that space at this time, it will complicate the renovations due to lack of vacant space to relocate employees.”

A new mayor will supervise this project and the Crystal Hill Road project, both

which have sat on the shelf for a while. We’ll ask the mayoral candidates how they plan to move these projects along to completion.

Gaggles of geese leave ghastly gifts

The geese have been having quite a party around Maumelle. They left evidence of their gatherings primarily around Lake Willastein, the library, parking lots up and around Commons Drive and the golf courses. It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t leave such significant, smelly, nasty proof of their presence.

What can we do about it? Well, legally, not much it seems.

Maumelle Parks and Recreation issued a statement last week regarding our feathered friends.

“… [U]nderstand that the Canada Geese are federally protected birds and, therefore, our department is very limited in terms of what tactics we are allowed to utilize in any attempts to control their populations or in regard to where they choose to congregate. As the department responsible for the maintenance of our parks, we share many of your concerns and have made numerous attempts, within the boundaries of the law, to discourage the birds from making our parks their homes. We will continue to research and implement new procedures which may deter the animals but, as long as the geese are a protected avian species, our abilities to adequately address the issues brought to the department are very limited.”

“Yes, we had already cleaned up the large mess on the first parking lot coming into Lake Willastein,” said Maumelle Parks and Recreation Director Phillip Raborn. “We have a sweeper we use, but the droppings need to be dry or they just smear.”

One local couple took it upon themselves to document the attack in a video report. Candace Carpenter and her husband/videographer put together a video package that could air on any of the local newscasts, except they did have to bleep out an expletive for the word poop.

Mrs. Carpenter is working on her master’s degree in mass communication and recently finished an internship at KATV. That is evidenced by the quality of the report and the fact that the Carpenters own a broadcast-quality camera. Check it out on Facebook. It’s kind of a hoot. Or should I say honk.

I have shared on the Maumelle Monitor Facebook page for your viewing pleasure.

See you on the Boulevard. And watch your step.

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.