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Court told of special school election

By Staff, 04/12/17 1:22 PM

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PRESCOTT – Members of Nevada County’s Quorum Court were urged to support the Prescott School District at a special election on May 9.

Robert Poole, superintendent and former justice of the peace, said the election has nothing to do with raising taxes, but, if passed, would allow the district to extend its bonded indebtedness out 10 more years. It would also provide enough money for the district to do some projects, including putting a new roof on Prescott High School. Other projects would be to air condition the Prescott Sports Arena, have new seating installed in the PHS auditorium and add more cameras around all campuses for improved security.

He told the court the district built a new cafeteria and classrooms and a new agriculture building without raising taxes, but by extending the bonded indebtedness. “We feel this is the best solution for the district,” he said, adding the money raised from the bonds could only be used for the aforementioned projects and not a new Astroturf field for Eddie Jackson Field, in spite of a rumor going around.

Poole pointed out the district will likely extend its bonded indebtedness again in five to 10 years as new needs come up. “This is not a millage increase, just a restructuring of the bonds the district has. Taxes will not increase. Our children deserve the best facilities we can give them.”

JP Bob Cummings said Centurylink can give the district a panic button that would be directly linked to the Nevada County Jail. Poole thanked him, but said the district already has one and it was used recently. “We’re open to anything that will increase safety in the district,” he said, adding restructuring bond issues is how school districts typically do business.

JP Ryan Harvey, who is also a member of the Prescott School Board, said Poole has an open door policy and invites people to talk directly with him or any of the board members about the election.

“I want you to come to me, email me, call me or come by,” Poole said. “I’ll be glad to answer your questions.” When asked when work on the projects would begin, Poole replied bids would be let the day after the election – should it pass.

According to a pamphlet Poole passed out, if the issue passes, the district’s bonded indebtedness would be extended 10 years, or until 2047. The sale of the bonds would raise $8,735,000, most of which would be used to pay off the existing bonds, but would leave more than $800,000 for the projects sought. The election will be held at PHS and is open to those living in the school district.

In other business, the court was informed the 1188 fund doesn’t have $100,000 as previously thought, but has a balance of around $57,000. At a special meeting last month, the court voted to purchase a new truck for the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and pay for it with money from the Act 1188 funds. Currently, the money is being used to pay off two other vehicles for the NCSO.

Nevada County Judge Mark Glass said the fund generally receives between $2,000 and $4,000 a month. He told the court the new truck would be paid off in two years, adding the first payment for it won’t be due for another year.

Jamie Hillery, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce, followed reminding the panel of the upcoming Chamber banquet on April 25. She said tickets are still available at the Chamber office or from members of the board. Hillery informed the court the banquet is almost sold out of tables and only has seven left out of 32.

Mary Godwin, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office, was asked what the hits on the Partnership’s website mean. She said it’s just the number of people who visit the site.

Harvey asked if it would be possible to get more detailed information from the hits to help understand who’s looking at what and if anyone is expressing interest in any of the properties the EDO manages.

Godwin said Potlatch and the old garment factory are handled through the Arkansas Department of Economic Development (ADED). She added if someone looks at specific properties, there may be a way to check on it. Godwin pointed out the Partnership’s site is linked with the ADED site, and industrial prospects showing interest in Prescott and Nevada County are generated from the state.

How prospects are handled, she said, varies based on what they’re looking for and what they need, but must also be approved by the Prescott City Council. She gave the example of a business wanting to buy the Potlatch property and only create two jobs, as opposed to a business wanting to buy it and create 100 jobs.

She told the court the EDO makes annual reports, giving copies to the Mayor of Prescott and Nevada County Judge, and holds monthly meetings giving updates on what’s going on by using a PowerPoint presentation.

Godwin said she worked with Flywheel Pies for about a year before getting the business to lease part of the former McRae Middle School. The owners, she told the court, had initially looked at building a new facility.

A proposed logging ordinance was discussed by the court. George Smith presented the ordinance which would require logging companies to pay a $50 permit fee for each tract of land they’re cutting on. He said this isn’t too much and would let the county know where loggers are working so the companies could be contacted if the roads were left torn up.

Cummings said this could result in companies getting the permit and tearing up the roads.

Smith said the county would have to determine what condition the roads used are in both before and after the cutting is done. The permits, he added, could bring an additional $8-$10,000 a year into the county general fund.

People who sell timber, Cummings said, will be the ones paying for the permits as the logging companies will factor this cost in to what they pay. He added the county would also need to charge oil companies a permit fee as they, too, tear up county roads with tanker trucks going to and from El Dorado.

Glass said he would have County Road Foreman Kenneth Ward attend the May court meeting to discuss the issue, adding things have gotten better since the county has been shutting timber companies down that tear up the county roads.

The court approved a resolution for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality concerning the county’s landfill. Glass said the county had to get a new engineer for the landfill as the previous engineer couldn’t be reached and the landfill was getting out of compliance.

The contract with the new engineer will be $5,500, with the city paying 52 percent of this cost and the county picking up 48 percent.

The population at the Nevada County Jail is down a bit, as the jail currently houses 57 inmates. Of these, 34 are for the Arkansas Department of Corrections, with five 309 inmates, 10 for the NCSO, one for the Prescott Police Department, five for Clark County and two for Hot Spring County.

Overall, these inmates are bringing in $1,290 per day.

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