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County’s hiring practices questioned

By John Miller, 03/9/22 4:32 PM

PRESCOTT – The county’s hiring practices were brought up at the March meeting of the Nevada County Quorum Court Tuesday night.

Justice of the Peace Willie Wilson questioned how courthouse employees are hired, asking what the hiring practices are, if there are any, are the jobs advertised and applicants interviewed. Wilson said he’s concerned about the number of minorities working in the courthouse, pointing out those hired need to be qualified and quotas shouldn’t be required. He said JP Herbert Coleman had sent someone to the courthouse for a job that was open, but by the time the person arrived the position had been filled. No specifics were given as to the office or job involved.

Nevada County Clerk Julie Oliver said most people don’t want to work for $11 an hour, though it’s a great job.

Wilson continued saying the county should advertise jobs available and interview the applicants.

Nevada County Judge Mark Glass said the elected officials do their own thing for hiring.

Coleman suggested the county have an overall hiring policy as it would help stamp out nepotism.

Bob Cummings asked if there were hiring policies in place the county isn’t following, getting no answer.

From there, Wilson asked if some of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money the county will be receiving from the federal government could be spent on “soft” organizations such as the Junior Auxiliary, suggesting each JP select an organization in their district or they’re affiliated with and the county donating $1,000.

Glass said he had no problem with this if it meets the federal criteria.

The topic of ARPA funds came about when Glass pointed out the county still has some of the money from the first round left, adding the county will get $801,000 later this year, in June or July. With new guidelines taking effect in April, he said, he’d like to use these funds to repair chip and seal roads in the county. These roads, he told the court, have a good base and once they’re repaired with a new chip and seal, should be good roads lasting for years. He added the caveat “if the county can afford it”.

The roads would be covered by oil and chip. Glass’s idea is for the county to buy the oil and chip and hire an outside firm to do the work as the county’s equipment is worn out. Glass has talked to a company about this, asking for a per-mile cost estimate. “With this money, it’s the only way the county can get these roads back,” he said. Some of the roads in question are: NC4, NC7, Wildcat Road and Shady Grove Road. Glass pointed out there will be roads all over the county being repaired and no single area will be the primary focus of repairs. The court agreed he should look into the cost of this project.

In other business, Cummings questioned the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office fund, as it’s $14,865 in the red. He asked what this was and why it was so far in the hold.

Oliver said this is the commissary fund and has money coming in and going out. This fund allows inmates to purchase items such as cigarettes, candy and soft drinks. There are times, she continued, it’s in the red, but it doesn’t stay this way as the jail brings the funds to the courthouse to bring the account back into balance. Overall, she said, this fund does make money.

JP Pat Grimes said she talks to Sheriff Danny Martin on a regular basis and the jail is having a problem with food costs and doesn’t know what to do. She suggested looking into trying to get federal commodities or finding out how the local food pantries are supplied.

Oliver said the county uses Tankersley to purchase food for the jail from, adding Pep Glenn used to get the best prices. She told the court it’s no known if who ever is buying food for the jail is doing this.

Grimes changed topics and lauded those who helped the Nevada County Extension Service with last month’s agriculture contest where 700 students from across the state came to Prescott to compete. She said those who worked the contest needed a “shout out” adding if the extension service keeps doing this it will also help the Nevada County Master Gardeners.

Cummings pointed out the leftover food was taken to the jail for the inmates and nothing went to waste.

On the topic of the Nubbin Hill Road, Glass told the court he’s talked to the contractor who has moved his equipment to the site. However, the contractor is waiting until he’s sure he can get the materials before starting construction so the job isn’t interrupted and delayed.

The court also approved a resolution for fair housing concerning a Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District grant for the Oak Grove Community Center, along with an ordinance for an ARP grant for the Nevada County Library of $5,000. Oliver said the county got this grant for the library last year and only spent half the funds for new computers and part-time help.

As the meeting wound down, JP Chris Fore reminded the court there will be a political rally in Laneburg at the old fire station on April 23. There will be a hamburger supper and cake auction, with local and area politicians invited to attend and speak.

Grimes said the court needs to work to improve the City of Prescott and the county as both are getting smaller. She said Arkadelphia is getting a new Hostess Twinkies plant that will employee more than 100 people. She suggested the court do what it can to try and attract business and industry to Prescott and Nevada County.

Cummings suggested when county offices change copiers, the new ones should also be scanners as nobody uses faxes any more, adding fax lines are expensive. The county, he said, needs to be able to scan and email documents, which would make things more efficient.

Oliver said there are scanners in all county offices.