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Hempstead County Quorum Court Meeting August 24

By Staff, 08/25/17 1:32 PM

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HOPE- The Hempstead County Quorum Court met Thursday August 24th. The JP’S met in the small courtroom because Circuit Court was still being held in the large courtroom.
The meeting opened with Terrie James of the Hempstead County Co-operative Extension Service inviting the JP’s to an interpretive event.
The JP’S voted to amend the agenda due some items being added late.
The quorum court voted to lease a new trash truck for a three year term. The bid from Texarkana Truck Center was the lowest;. however, the bid from Arkansas Municipal Equipment of Little Rock offered $40,000 more at the end of the lease. The JP’S approved the Arkansas Municipal Equipment bid.
The JP’S discussed a request from Amerities to put “no Jake brakes” signs on US278 West. The Arkansas Department of Transportation told the county they could not put signs up unless there was a no Jake brakes policy for the entire county.
The JP’S looked at an agreement from Farmers Bank and Trust on the sale of the bank to the county. The proposed agreement called for the entire $1.5 million purchase price be paid 24 hours prior to closing. JP Lynn Montgomery said this was not what the county agreed to. The proposed agreement also called for the bank to continue to occupy the building for up to 18 months. The proposal also calls for the county to borrow $1.7 million to fund the renovation. Numerous JP’s indicated they were uncomfortable with the proposal. The bank’s C.O.O. Joe Pratt addressed the JP’s . He noted the bank has begun dirt work for the new bank but they can’t go further without an agreement. J.P. Lynn Montgomery said it isn’t the county’s fault the bank took so long to find a new site. Pratt said if the agreement was signed September 1st it would be be January 2018 before construction started and the bank couldn’t be finished until January 2019. Pratt said he could give the bank access to the 2nd and 3rd floor while the new bank was being built. Treasurer Judy Flowers said she had invested the $1.5 million purchase money because the agreement called for the purchase to be paid interest free over five years. The JP’S voted 8 to 2 to table the agreement.
The JP’S discussed Courthouse Security. It was determined the Sheriff’s Department is responsible for security. JP Lynn Montgomery discussed the security measures in neighboring counties and noted ours are much more extensive. Montgomery questioned whether the security level was necessary. Sheriff James Singleton noted deputies broke up two fights earlier in the day. He also noted deputies had arrested a man urinating on a county employee’s car. Sheriff Singleton said he didn’t think security should be cut if anything it might need to be increased. JP Olen Dorman noted the court judges initially asked for the security. It was noted attorneys’ pass keys had been returned to them. No action was taken.
The JP’S approved a transfer ordinance of $320,000 in the road department. The county has received a hazard mitigation grant and the money will be used to to fund the County’s part.
Attorney Blake Montgomery addressed the JP’s asking them to release a strip of land that is a right of way owned by the county. He was representing the Hempstead County Economic Development Corporation. The land will revert to the owners of the adjacent land. The land is adjacent to Southern Bakeries on US67. The right of way was acquired for construction in 1956. The highway department acquired it and now with the adjustment of the route for the construction of the new bridge the right of way has been released back to the county. The JP’S voted to release the right of way.
The JP’S voted to approve the reappointment of Leroy Adams and Lloyd Turner to the Southwest Arkansas Water Facilities Board.
Tim Blue of the Hempstead County Road Department spoke to the JP’S and he said he felt the roads were in the best shape he’s seen. He noted the chip seal roads are not in good shape because of the soil composition. Blue said the county has a better fleet of equipment than 90℅ of the other counties. He also said the weed spraying efforts by the county are working well. Blue said the solid waste department makes money and he encouraged the JP’S to support the county judge’s efforts at keeping the Solid Waste equipment current. He also addressed comp time and the employees’ willingness to come in during emergencies. Blue also talked about sick leave and catastrophic leave. He also talked about merit raises and longevity pay. Blue said he is not asking for himself as he will be leaving next week. He thanked the JP’S and noted he is moving on to another job.
John Akin asked about a timeline for resolving the county and Farmers Bank issues. JP Ed Darling asked for a committee to look at the county employee’s handbook. JP Monica Johnson said on the bank issue the onus is on the bank to come back with another proposal. Johnson said they are not so much tabling the matter as waiting for the bank to come back with another proposal.
JP Ed Darling asked for clarification for use on county vehicles. He proposed a clarification to the policy and it was approved.
The 9-1-1 vehicle was discussed. It was noted it was bought with county funds and the county can use the vehicle.
Sheriff Singleton noted the county’s 309 program has been reinstated and he also noted the Trash pickup has started and going well. He also noted the Detention Center sally-port doors are worn out and he’s hoping to find $11,000 in his budget to replace two of those doors. He noted his truck was struck by lightning and at least $8,000 damage was sustained. He noted he has an auction coming up and hopes to get another truck utilizing some of those funds.
The meeting then adjourned.

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