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Hempstead County Quorum Court

By Mark Keith, 03/28/19 9:45 PM

The Hempstead County Quorum Court met Thursday March 28th. The meeting opened with prayer for former Judge Haskell Morse. The JP’s then looked at and approved a federal audit for federal grant funds the county has received.
McCaskill Mayor Marion Hoosier addressed the Quorum Court. He noted the town of McCaskill wishes to collect their own solid waste . He noted that he had been told by the county clerk that their legislation on the matter did not conform.to the law. The Mayor passed out an opinion by the Municipal League concerning their proposed legislation considered by the McCaskill Town Council. Mayor Hoosier wants to get the share of the 1 cent local sales tax that is now going to the county. Mayor Hoosier said this money goes to the county but if McCaskill could get it they could use the approximately $12,000 annually to take care of the garbage for about $5,000 and could use the other $7,000 for projects in McCaskill. JP Ed Darling said the Quorum Court is governed by the Attorney General’s office and he would like to have an opinion from that office. Darling noted if a number of Hempstead County towns opt out of the solid waste program it will put the the whole program in jeporardy. A discussion ensued about the quarter cent tax that supports UAHT and the quarter cent that goes to Hempstead Hall. JP Troy Lerew noted the town of Oakhaven gets about $9,000 annually from this tax. JP Steed said he understands what Mayor Hoosier is asking but if the county grants McCaskill the right to collect their own garbage and get the sales tax designated for solid waste back the other eight towns in the county will probably want to do the same and this will cripple the county solid waste program. There was also discussion that many McCaskill area residents probably trade in Nashville as McCaskill is nearer than Hope. Mayor Hoosier said they would like to try to pick up their own trash for three months. JP Jay Lathrop of Bingen said he didn’t think he could support it just for McCaskill. JP Jessie Henry said the JP’s need to look at how they can help the small towns. JP Steed said all the small towns are in a crunch and he applauds Mayor Hoosier for trying to find a way to help his town. No action was taken and Judge Crane asked that it be tabled.
Terrie James of Cooperative Extension Service gave details on the “Get Real, Here’s the Deal” program to help juniors and seniors learn about real life. James asked if any of the JP’s could help out in the program. James also gave details on the statewide Master Gardeners’ Conference coming to Hempsead Hall at the end of April.
Judge Crane addressed the JP’s. He thanked the people of the county for being patient. He said the county has not been able to do much with the roads as equipment is down. He said every piece of equipment is broken down. Judge Crane also said the shop has insulation falling down on the workers and that could be a health hazard. He said the county was leasing three graders but they’ve gone back and the county needs something else. The Judge said he has gone to local stores and been refused service because the county owes those stores money. He noted the county owes $240,000 for asphalt on a new road near Spring Hill that is completely tearing up. He said the contractor has agreed to work on it but he’s not sure they can fix it as it was paved when the ground was too wet. Judge Crane said if the county can’t pay their bills now, how are they going to pay them when they move to the new Courthouse. Judge Crane called for unity and working together. He said the county residents deserve better. The Judge said there numerous culverts out.
The road Superintendent talked to the JP’S about proposals for new graders from John Deere and Caterpillar. The lease program was discussed as opposed to outright purchase. Judge Crane noted they do have the money to buy graders. Ed Darling says the road fund is in good shape to buy two graders. The JP’S voted to allow the road department to purchase two John Deere graders. It was explained the county has to buy graders with at least 250 hours on it to avoid getting bids. Judge Crane said he will be back for more needs.
Judge Crane said there are four bridges out in the county including near Bowden and County Road 23.
Sheriff James Singleton gave an update on the mud Nationals at Hillarosa near Blevins. He said there’s 10,000 to 16,000 people up there now. He said 25,000 are expected in total. He said the people are spending money in the county. He talked about people from Utah and even Sweede. He credited Arkansas Great Southwest for helping fund some security. The Sheriff said so far no one’s been hurt and there have been no incidents. The Sheriff said he wanted to tell the JP’S what was going on.