Complaints dominate QC meeting

By John Miller, 09/14/22 10:29 AM

PRESCOTT – Most of the September meeting of the Nevada County Quorum Court was taken up with complaints – some from a justice of the peace.

Tuesday’s meeting began with Bob Cummings presiding as Nevada County Judge Mark Glass wasn’t present. JP Pat Grimes kicked things off asking about how the solid waste department went from $41,975 to $30,000 in a month. She was told the department began with $89,000, with $50,000 paid out in bills and the rest in two payrolls. Nevada County Clerk Julie Oliver pointed out each department pays its own salaries, adding county general began with $170,000 paid out in bills along with two payrolls.

Grimes asked where money from the trash fees go, as $2,000 was spent from those funds. Oliver said it could have been fuel. Grimes continued asking who benefits from the unclaimed property tax. Cummings said the count uses the interest, but the principle is left alone because if someone claims it, the county would have to pay them back.

A brief update  was given no the Nubbin Hill Bridge project, with Cummings telling the court the culverts are in but need to be installed.

The court approved an ordinance granting the Falcon Cemetery Association ownership of the Falcon Cemetery. The ordinance states the association will be liable for the cemetery from now on and will not receive aid from the county.

DeEtte McCauley, with the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, told the court she works in community health and was on hand to provide information about COVID-19 and the vaccines available. McCauley is offering educational workshops at the Nevada County Library and traveling the county spreading the word on the importance of being immunized against COVID. She told the court there will be an event on Oct. 6 at Rx Express where people can get vaccinated for COVID and the flu, and mammograms will be available as well. She will be sharing the Lions Club booth at the Fall Festival on Oct. 8.

From there, the complaints dominated. Joyce Banks was back saying she’s concerned about someone calling the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office with a false report about her planning to commit suicide. Banks said a niece in Houston made the call because she (Banks) and her mother were having a disagreement. The problem, she said, is nothing is being done about it. She said the NCSO has a problem with her and she’s complained to the Nevada County Judge, Sheriff Danny Martin and the 8th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office about being treated unfairly.

She said she called the NCSO at 12:45 a.m. Monday about someone being in her yard and was told a deputy would be sent, but none ever arrived. Banks said she’s been treated unfairly by the judicial system in the county for the last 15 years, adding the NCSO needs to uphold the law and treat everyone the same.

JP Curtis Lee Johnson said the court has no control over elected officials and how they run their offices. The court only controls the purse strings.

Banks said others need to be elected as these officials don’t care.

There was a brief respite as the court approved an ordinance allowing the county to do business with David Gummeson as an electrician as he’s also the county coroner.

This was followed by the appointing of a budget committee, Herbert Coleman, Pat Grimes and Willie Wilson. Grimes said the county doesn’t live by the budget approved.

She continued saying she’s received calls about a county road about to fall in, saying she was told nothing’s being done about it. Cummings said Glass plans to look into it, adding it’s a short road and the problem is log trucks from Hempstead County use it and are causing the damage, but haven’t been caught yet.

Next up was Thomas McKinnon with a complaint about the road in his area (NC20) saying it needs a load of coal mix and grader taken to it as it’s dangerous. He said something needs to be done about the road crews as they don’t fix all the hole, but hit one here and there.

Cummins said the county has two graders used in the north end of the county down right now and one has been moved from the south end of the county to help.

Gina Irizarry followed, first thanking the court for its assistance in getting broadband internet to the Falcon area, but questioning why tax money paid in Nevada County goes to other school districts. She pointed out her tax statement shows her to be in the Stamps Special District, though the Stamps School District no longer exists as it consolidated. She said she’s tried to find where the money goes but has had no luck, and can’t vote in school elections in Lafayette or Nevada County.

Oliver said she could vote if there are contested races, but there haven’t been any in years. She said Irizarry lives in the Lafayette district.

Irizarry asked how much money Nevada County was losing with tax money going to Lafayette County. She said she’s called the Nevada County Assessor and got no answer and had the same results when she called the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC)..

The problem, Cummins said, is school choice. Parents can choose where to send their children to school and the tax money follows the child.

Irizarry said she wanted her tax money to stay in Nevada County. JP Dennis Pruitt said it doesn’t work that way and is based on how the state divides the tax money. Oliver chimed in saying nothing can be done until the state redraws the lines.

Her second issue involved people dumping animals in the south part of the county. She said this is a recurring problem and she’s called Rural Development and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) about grants to help people get their animals spayed and neutered. She asked about turning the old jail into an animal shelter because she doesn’t want these animals coming into her store or getting into people’s vehicles.

She was told the county looked into the situation years ago, but couldn’t find a viable solution.

Her husband, Nelson, talked about articles he’s read concerning the county’s financial status, and constantly having to transfer funds from one budget to another to stay in the black. He said he realizes Nevada County is poor and doesn’t expect it to have the same bells and whistles as other counties, adding Little Rock doesn’t care about Nevada County or anything south of Clark County. However, he said the county needs to come up with a solution to this as it’s embarrassing to the residents. He offered to help, saying he’s had experience with budgets from his previous professions and would work for nothing.

He reminded the court if this isn’t fixed, they work at the people’s discretion and can be replaced. He continued saying he doesn’t know where the money goes as he hasn’t seen a copy of the budget. “You can’t keep doing this, it’s not looking good for the south part of the county.”

Irizarry then asked about the economic development board, wondering why everyone on the board is from Prescott and there’s no one from another part of the county represented. He was informed the court doesn’t choose the board and he would need to talk with the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office about it.