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Benton mayor talks ‘busy’ first months in office

It’s been almost 100 days since the Town of Benton’s new mayor took office, and his assessment is that things are going according to plan.

“We’re still on target for everything I wanted to accomplish,” said Mayor S.G. “Junior” Horton. “We’re getting a good start on our road projects, which was the biggest concern.”

Mayor Horton said work on the master street plan is underway with plans to redo Old Plain Dealing Road seeing one mile overlayed and reconstructed. Seven streets in District 5 will be tackled this summer, according to this year’s masterplan.

In May, Horton said the city is also going to start wastewater improvements, namely a lift station on Oak Ridge Drive.

He also hopes to step up the town’s drainage maintenance program.

“With all the road construction we’ve gotten behind on that, so we’ll be kicking that into a higher gear and put a lot of emphasis on that this year,” Mayor Horton said.

He also is developing plans for improvements at Simpson Street Park, which would include public restrooms and an additional pavilion. He is also hoping to expand and improve the town’s youth baseball fields.

However, those plans are not finalized and both are currently in the planning stages.

“We hope to get some direction on those two items and in the next month or two and then the Town Council can make a decision,” Horton said.

With the adjustment to the office, and focus on street maintenance and possible quality of life improvements, Mayor Horton said he has been busy but still hasn’t forgotten about one of his major campaign items — a citizens committee for the town.

“I haven’t gotten organized to have our first initial meeting, but I’ve been in discussion with our citizens and hope to have the first meeting in the next month or two,” he said. “The hardest thing is getting it initially started. I will provide a place for them to meet, but I’m trying to get a small group interested to get it kicked off.”

Mayor Horton said he has already talked with some citizens he thought would be interested in serving on the committee and has also had other town citizens come to him to be a part. But regardless of who is on the committee, Horton is making sure it is known that he’s not involved directly.

“This will be strictly a citizens committee. I will have no involvement other than getting it started,” the Mayor said. “I will sit-in as spectator. My thought process is to stay out of it and listen to what they have to say.”

His overall assessment of his first few months in office is that he’s confident he can keep up and has done a solid job.

“I had so much involvement before I was successful in the election. Prior to running, I attended a lot of meetings and had involvement. I knew of all the little quirks before I took office,” Mayor Horton said. “But it’s been real rewarding with the citizens that you are able to help. Sometimes you’re constrained by what you can do, but on the people you can really help and benefit it’s quite a rewarding experience.”

He also complimented the Town Council and former mayor Wayne Cathcart, saying, “I was very luck to assume a town that was in good shape. My only goal is to leave it better than I found it.”

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