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story.lead_photo.caption File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette

ROGERS -- City buildings will soon be equipped with technology that will disinfect employees' electronic devices.

The City Council on Tuesday voted to purchase 25 PhoneSoap Med Pro units, which use ultraviolet light to sanitize phones, tablets or other devices. The total cost is about $55,000.

"We're also currently looking at some technology that can be applied to door handles and touch screens that provide continual sanitization via light, so there's more to come on that, but we're really just trying to look for ways that we can learn how to live in this new environment and try to keep our employees, our workforce as well as the public that is working with them as safe as possible," Mayor Greg Hines said.

The council also voted to accept a $270,000 covid-19 Community Development Block Grant from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Donna Johnston, block grant administrator, said the money will go toward 14 nonprofit organizations that serve residents in need.

The Police Department also got the OK to purchase a portable training system for about $23,900. Police Chief Hayes Minor said the system can be set up to simulate a home, school or other building and be used for training exercises for police officers. The department will be able to build different makeshift buildings in any open spaces and take them down for reuse when the officers are finished using them. The city received a federal grant that will pay for the system.

The Police Department will also purchase 18 Tasers for about $31,600. The money to purchase the equipment was approved in 2019 as part of the city's 2020 budget, according to city documents.

About 20 acres off of Horsebarn Road will be rezoned to allow a charter school, LISA Academy, to be built there after a Tuesday council vote. About one acre of land east of Valley West Drive between Walnut Street and Valley West Court will also be rezoned from residential duplex and highway commercial to residential multifamily to allow 13 new townhomes to be constructed there.

The council also voted to create a new job position, application specialist, who will help with implementing new software. About $34,000 was allotted for the position's salary and benefits for 2020.

All items passed unanimously. The council held its meeting via Zoom, a video conferencing service, in light of the covid-19 pandemic.

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