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Hempstead County Quorum Court

By Mark Keith, 02/27/20 10:33 PM

The Hempstead County Quorum Court met Thursday for their regular monthly meeting. After the meeting was called to order, James Griffin gave a report on employee handbooks. He said he hopes to have a draft for a new handbook in the JP’s hands at the next meeting.

A resolution honoring the late Olen Dorman was read and adopted by the JP’s. Following the adoption, everyone stood and applauded the contributions of Dorman. Dorman’s widow, Debbie, was present and she received a hug from Sheriff James Singleton.

The JP’s approved an ordinance which set how the 1 cent sales tax will be used for renovation of the new courthouse and the disposition of the old courthouse. The ordinance will only be in effect if the tax passes on March 3rd.

$54,881 was transferred from Revenue Repayment to Capital Improvements) Courthouse. This was for payment of utilities on the new courthouse.

Sheriff James Singleton gave a report on his department in 2019. He first detailed a recent call where his department responded to about two dozen dogs that were penned and starving so bad that some of the dogs began eating other dogs. He noted two dogs had to be put down and the Hope Animal Control could take 6 of them but he noted in the future the county needs to have a place to put such dogs. His report also detailed crimes which have to be reported to the FBI. There were 2,679 cases investigated and 2009 cleared. His report detailed 944 adults were arrested and 14 juveniles were arrested. He reported property valued at $735,321.84 was reported as stolen and $61,020 was recovered. He noted under courthouse security, 31,309 English speaking people came through the courthouse and 6,114 non-english speaking people came through the courthouse for a total of 37,423 visitors to the courthouse. The guards confiscated 102 knives. He also gave a report on drug cases involving the 8th North Task Force. He noted the jail average daily count was 67 and the highest was 89. He also noted the transport cost was $64,960 for transporting juveniles to facilities in Texarkana and Batesville. He also detailed the jail recidivism rate and noted the jail commissary showed a profit.

Judge Jerry Crane praised some of the county employees. County Clerk Karen Smith noted 448 people have voted early. She noted the county clerk’s office will be open Friday till 6pm, 10am til 4pm.on Saturday, and 8 to 5 on Monday.

JP Ed Darling gave an update on the census. He suggested the county do a mailing on the census and to put some computers in rural areas for the 30% of the population without access to broadband. Darling noted every person not counted in the county will cost the county over the next ten years. Discussion ensued. City Board member Mark Ross was present and reported on some of the city’s census efforts. The meeting then adjourned.