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Glass talks about final year in office

By John Miller, 01/6/22 4:37 PM

PRESCOTT – By the end of his term, Nevada County Judge Mark Glass will  have been in office 12 years.

While much has happened during his tenure, the biggest project he wants to get done before stepping down is the Nubbin Hill bridge job. This has been going on for several years, with different things causing delays. Now, though, the Arkansas Department of Transportation will be letting the bids on Jan. 14, with work to begin this spring. “We’ve finally got all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed,” he said. “Now it’s all in the DoT’s hands.”

As judge, Glass has done one major project each year. The jail, he said, was something he wanted to see built and it got done. The old county jail also got a facelift. While in office the Nevada County Courthouse was placed on the National Historic Register, which means grants are available for specific improvements. Glass wants to get a grant this year and do some work in the courtroom. With Glass as judge, the courthouse has gotten new heating and air conditioning, new storm windows, improved lighting and the interior painted, except for the courtroom.

His big road project this year is to do overlay on County Road 51 using state aid money. “If we can get our distributor truck going,” he said, “I’d like to do chip and seal on Wildcat Road in the Shady Grove area.”

As judge, the county went from purchasing heavy equipment for the road and bridge and sanitation departments, to leasing them on a three-year basis. “This has worked out well. Now if something goes wrong, the company fixes it.” All equipment has sensors that notify the parent company if there’s a problem, and GPS allows company mechanics to go straight where the equipment is located and make the necessary repairs – unless it’s something major and requires the equipment to be taken to a garage. Glass said the lease payments have gone up, but it’s still better than buying new equipment, and there’s no depreciation. The same is done with the county’s trash trucks. He added, the county has a 2011 Freightliner trash truck it can use as a spare if needed.

“A lot of people don’t like the trash fee,” he said, “but it was done for future needs.” At some point the county will need a new landfill. The current one has room for 11 more cells. It is 40 acres and, with luck, the county may be able to obtain 20 more acres from a neighboring landowner.

During his time in office, Glass has seen several disasters. Last year the county was hit with the blizzard, which, oddly enough, didn’t qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) aid. However, three floods did.

Glass said the state representatives have been good to work with and have helped the county, as have the area’s congressman and U.S. Senator. “They check on us regularly to see if they can help.”

COVID-19 was a problem that hit the county in the pocketbook, especially the jail. Glass said the jail was unable to house inmates, which reduced its income drastically. However, all county departments ended 2021 in the black.

When Glass steps down on Dec. 31, he said he has some options as to what he can do. One is to go back to the family farm and help his brother take care of it. Or, he may try and stay on with the county road department. He also has a small dozer he can use to make a living with.

“I don’t regret it,” he said of being judge. “I met a lot of people, made a lot of new friends and did the best I could. The most frustrating thing was not having the money to keep  the chip and seal roads maintained.”