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QC hears complaints about NCSO

By John Miller, 08/10/22 2:47 PM

PRESCOTT – Complaints about the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office were the order of the day for the August meeting of the Nevada County Quorum Court Tuesday evening.

First up was Joyce Banks who voiced concerns about mental health in the community, saying those needing help aren’t being taken care of as they need to be. She told the court her son has mental issues and sometimes ends up in jail, but when she calls to make an appointment to see him, she’s either denied, treated rudely or the person on the other end of the phone hangs up on her. “I’ve lived here 56 years,” she said, “and I don’t appreciate how I’m treated by the sheriff’s office.”

In addition, she claimed when she calls the 8th Judicial District North Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, they hang up on her as well. She told the court she’s been told to stop calling.

Banks said others aren’t happy with how they’re treated by the NCSO but she’s the only one with the guts to address the issue, adding if the NCQC won’t do something, she’ll go above the county level.

Justice of the Peace Herbert Coleman said everyone deserves respect and he can’t condone the way she’s been treated. “She should be able to see her son,” he said.

Banks said on July 16, someone called the NCSO claiming she was about to commit suicide and nothing was done about the false claim. She also said her son says he’s being mistreated in jail.

Next up was former sheriff Harold Vines who voiced his complaints about the girl killed in an ATV accident several weeks ago. Vines said the girl driving the ATV was never talked to by law enforcement authorities and the data on the accident is incomplete from the Arkansas State Police and the NCSO. Vines asked if Sheriff Danny Martin took the driver to his house, adding the sheriff should be present to answer such questions.

Deputy Steve Otwell said Vines has his information mixed up, adding the sheriff didn’t take the girl home with him. “It’s a family thing. This isn’t the place to settle what Vines has against Danny Martin.”

Vines said he wants to ask the sheriff questions, but he wasn’t at the meeting. He added there could be one or two lawsuits from this incident. He continued saying sometimes Martin doesn’t come to the NCSO until 11 a.m. from another job, adding there’s a bank of monitors in the sheriff’s office where he can watch what goes on in the jail.

JP Bob Cummings said there’s two screens in the sheriff’s office and other jails have them.

Otwell said all modern jails have similar systems as it’s a safety issue.

JP Curtis Lee Johnson reminded Vines the QC has no say over what elected officials do or how they run their offices.

Changing tack, Vines asked Nevada County Clerk Julie Oliver how many names he would need on a petition to have Martin recalled from office. She said she’d look into it.

In other business, JP Pat Grimes asked how the county general budget went from $71,000 to $271,000. County Treasurer Lisa Loe said it’s from stabilization money from the state the county gets once a year.

Grimes asked how the solid waste budget dropped from $46,000 to $25,000 and was told the funds were used to buy fuel. Oliver pointed out when the county gets bills, whichever department has the money, the funds are taken from that. Nevada County Judge Mark Glass said the fuel purchased goes to the county shop and is used by everyone.

Glass said work on the bridge at Nubbin Hill is under way. He told the court the ordinance for the Falcon Cemetery isn’t ready and will be addressed at the September meeting.

The court approved an ordinance giving all full-time law enforcement officers a $5,000 stipend. With the exception of retirement, everything else is covered under Act 224, which provides law enforcement stipend grants. This is a one-time stipend approved by the Arkansas Legislature. There are five full-time deputies with the NCSO, which adds up to $25,000, with the grant also covering social security matching in the amount of $1,912.50. The county’s portion for retirement is $3,830.