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Austin recognized by QC

By Staff, 06/15/17 10:32 AM

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PRESCOTT – Howard Austin was recognized as Citizen of the Year for District 2 at the June meeting of the Nevada County Quorum Court Tuesday.

Willie Wilson, justice of the peace from District 2, talked about Austin’s career as an educator in the Prescott School District, saying he is a “great man who came from humility.”

Nevada County Judge Mark Glass was asked if the county had received money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for damages to county roads from storms last year. He said the county was several months behind on its paperwork, but the county has received $54,000 from FEMA. The hacking of the computer the paperwork was being done on caused the delay.

Glass said he’s met with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) and the contractor about the paving of Hines Blvd., and there are problems as the dirt doesn’t meet specifications for paving. The AHTD and contractor, he told the court, want to hire a dirt contractor to get it up to spec so paving can be done. However, paving won’t be don’t until next year because of this. He added, the paving has already been paid for and state aid will pick up 90 percent of the dirt work needed, leaving the county to pay 10 percent.

Mary Godwin, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office, told the board donations are still being sought to purchase more than 800 acres of the Prairie D’Ane Battlefield off I-309.

JP George Smith said the Civil War is a subject people will drive for days for. “These battlefields have potential to draw a lot of people to the area.” He asked Eighth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Christi McQueen if it would be legal for the county to donate $5,000 toward the purchase of the land.

Godwin pointed out the project still needs $67,000 to reach its goal.

Pete DeWoody, who’s also working on the acquisition project, told the court most of the land is on the north side of the interstate, but some is on both sides of I-30. The land on the north side, he said, goes to County Road 23 behind the truck stop and ties in with both exits.

JP Dennis Pruitt said he normally takes his eighth grade history class on a tour of the battlefields, with the tour ending up at Moscow.

“The impact economically,” DeWoody said, “will be a great thing. An interpretive plan is being worked on.” He reminded the court all types of people were involved in the battles in 1864, adding a lot of different groups are interested in the historic preservation being done.

McQueen said the donation could be made for economic development, but it would be best if the proper language was in place before the donation is made.

JP Bob Cummings followed this by challenging each member of the court to make a donation to the project, saying no donation is too small and all donations are appreciated.

She was asked if her office worked with the Small Business Administration (SBA). She told the court anyone wanting to start a business in Prescott or Nevada County is pointed to the SBA, adding the EDO works with the office housed at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. The SBA, she added, can help people with research and a business plan.

Cummings reminded the court it discussed commercial vehicles tearing up county roads at the May meeting. He said Hempstead County’s Quorum Court is also having to deal with this issue and will be proposing an ordinance at its meeting later this month. He said Hempstead County Judge Haskell Morse suggested the NCQC wait and see what the HCQC does and pattern its ordinance after the HCQC’s. He pointed out the term being used is commercial vehicles is being used because it’s more than just log trucks tearing up the road. In fact, he added, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are a major problem in damaging county roads. The issue was tabled until the July meeting.

The court approved an ordinance giving deputies with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office a $600 a year raise. The motion was made and approved at the court’s January meeting and the deputies have been receiving the money. However, an ordinance appropriating the funds had to be approved.

Glass reminded the court a NCSO vehicle had been destroyed when it hit cattle in the road recently. He said the insurance company of the cattle’s owner paid $14,000 for the vehicle, and another $5,800 for the equipment removed from it and put on another vehicle. The NCSO, he said, needs another vehicle.

Nevada County Sheriff Danny Martin provided information on a 2016 Dodge Ram crew cab 4×4 pickup for the NCSO. He said the NCSO could get the vehicle for $22,993, which is a savings of $3,500. Martin added this is the last vehicle on the lot with a police package. The court approved buying the vehicle, but not before discussing where the $14,000 from the insurance company went.

Glass said the rancher’s insurance company, Farm Bureau, paid the money directly to the Bank of Prescott because it held the lien on the vehicle. Nevada County Treasurer Susie Key said the money should have gone through her office as she didn’t know anything about it and it could cause auditing problems later on. She told the court she did receive the $5,800 for the equipment. She added the county will be paying around $50,000 later this summer to both banks for vehicle loans.

Cummings suggested buying the truck and financing it for three years. He added Martin said the NCSO would take care of equipping the truck from money in the NCSO’s budget. The court agreed to the purchase and financing.

However, in a special called meeting Thursday morning, the court was told Key had found $29,000 in the budget from fines. She checked on how the money could be used and learned vehicles could be purchased with it. The meeting resulted in the court deciding to use about $23,000 to buy the truck outright instead of financing it.

Glass said Key and DeAnn Glass, the judge’s secretary, had received a copy of the Farm Bureau check as well.

The court approved upgrading the computer network in the courthouse. Two bids were received, one from Apprentice Information Systems and the other from Texarkana IT. While the bid from Texarkana IT was the low bid, it would have been integrated with the existing network being used, basically piggybacking on what the county currently has. The other, Apprentice, the court was told, is a “one-stop shop” providing new equipment and servers throughout the courthouse.

The court agreed to go with Apprentice and the new equipment, even though it was the higher bid. Under terms of the agreement, the county will pay $50,000 down, and have monthly payments of $5,000 starting in Jan. 2018 until it’s paid off. Overall, the cost of the new system will be $170,000 and be paid off in 2019.

Apprentice is based out of Rogers, and all county information will be backed up off site. Cummings said the Apprentice system complies with government mandates. He added, Apprentice will completely rewire the courthouse, while Centurylink will be donating free fiber optic in the courthouse.

Former JP Harold Vines was on the agenda. He asked if the jail was paying for itself. Glass said it’s holding its own. Vines complained about the NCSO saying deputies were spending more time writing speeding tickets than serving warrants. Martin said this is being addressed.

Vines began to complain more about the jail, but was stopped when a point of order was called and he was asked if he was trying to make a point about anything. “I see how it is,” Vines said, and left.

Jail Administrator Preston Glenn, told the court there are currently 58 prisoners in the NC Jail, but four were out for court, making the actual count 62. Of these, he said, nine were local, two were from Hot Spring County, 37 were from the Arkansas Department of Correction and five were from Clark County. The jail, he continued, made $1,368 Tuesday alone. He pointed out the jail recently received a check for $44,000 from the state.

Glass said the jail budget started out with more than $400,000, but has dropped to $324,000 because of unexpected expenses, adding this figure doesn’t include the $44,000 received from the state.

JP Herbert Coleman asked for monthly income and expense reports from the jail so the court could keep up with how it’s doing financially. Key said she could print out a report just for the jail for the court.

Glenn said area residents are wanting to donate items to the jail. He said the county furnishes uniforms for the inmates, but they have to buy their own white socks and t-shirts from the commissary. He told the court the jail would accept donations of soft-backed books and over the counter medications, such as ibuprophen and Benadryl, but they have to be factory-sealed. “We’re doing everything we can to make the jail make money, but things do happen.” He pointed out the jail is having problems with its air conditioning system and some kitchen equipment recently went out.

 

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