QC Updated on Bridge Work, Declare Vacancy
Members of the Clay County Quorum Court handled a light agenda at Monday night's regular meeting at Corning. The JPs approved Ordinance 2016-16, adjusting the current budget, passed a resolution declaring a vacancy in the office of constable for Bradshaw and Haywood Township and heard an update on county activities. Judge Gary Howell also reported the bridge project on CR 420 was complete, and indicated the new backhoe had been delivered.
With all members in attendance, Howell called the meeting to order and the body dispensed with the consent agenda items.
Under new business the court was scheduled to hear from Datto Mayor Jeremy Eddington on the ongoing drainage problems in the community, although he was not on hand for the gathering.
The JPs then considered, and approved Ordinance 2016-16, which corrects earlier transfers of funds from the GIF Grain Bin Rescue Grant into County General. The move was needed due to the fact the bills had been paid from the County General Fund, as opposed to the Office of Emergency Management budget. The ordinance also appropriated $12,427.96 to the sheriff's budget to cover four months of salary and benefits for an additional deputy, as approved at the July 2016 meeting. The measure also authorizes County Treasurer Carolyn Morrisett to transfer $1,500 from the Emergency Task Force donation fund into the boating safety fund and earmarks other funds.
The ordinance was placed on all three readings, and was approved along with the accompanying emergency clause on a unanimous vote.
Court members then considered, and approved a resolution declaring a vacancy in the office of constable of Bradshaw and Haywood Township. The action was needed due to the resignation of Jeffery Featherston from the position on Sept. 16.
"We need to get this approved and forwarded to the Governor," Howell told the justices.
He also noted a Crockett resident had expressed an interest in being appointed to the job, and introduced John Gardner.
With passage of the resolution the JPs will have the opportunity to appoint someone to the job at their next meeting, although anyone appointed would not be eligible to run for re-election. The resolution passed without dissent.
CR 420 Bridge
Howell also reported the bridge project on CR 420, southwest of Scatterville, has been completed and the road is now open. The new steel span was built over Post Oak Creek in the past two weeks, and replaces an aged wooden bridge which had fallen into disrepair.
The project was partially funded by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, as they will be providing about $35,000 of the total cost of the job.
"We put that much steel into the job, so those funds are really going to help," Howell explained. "But, we had to build the bridge first and pay for it, then we'll be reimbursed later."
The bridge is one of several which had been earmarked for replacement, as the county transitions from wooden structures to steel.
Chief Deputy Tom Colbert, of the Clay County Sheriff's Department, was on hand to provide an update on efforts to replace the vehicle destroyed in the recent crash at Rector. He indicated Sheriff Terry Miller was reviewing state-bid vehicles, but was still awaiting the insurance settlement on the vehicle which was involved in the accident. The department currently has $12,688 in the budget for the purchase of vehicles, and the matter was expected to be re-visited once the insurance issue is settled.
Colbert also indicated Deputy Terry Burdin, who was driving the vehicle involved in the tragic crash, was still recovering. He noted the sheriff expected him to return to work sometime in the coming weeks.
The justices inquired whether the department could maintain with the current number of vehicles until after the upcoming budget is prepared, and indicated they would address the need in the near future.
The court also heard that the cost of health insurance had stabilized, and would be less than first thought for the coming year.
"If we can swing it, I'd really like to see the county employees get a raise," Budget Committee Member David Cagle noted. "They really deserve one, it's long overdue if we can afford it."
Members of the budget committee will be meeting Tuesday, Nov. 1, to begin the process of drafting one for 2017.
Howell reported the new backhoe has been delivered, with a cost of around $67,000 counting the trade-in. He also indicated the road department had spent in excess of $243,000 in repairs as of September.
"I'd like to make a suggestion to (Clay County Judge-elect) Mike (Patterson) that he hang on to a couple of those road graders we've had to put so much money in," Howell offered. "It's up to him, but it would be a good idea to have some kind of back-up to the lease program. But, I'm telling you that $864 a month for a quarter-of-a-million dollar road grader is a great deal."
All nine of the JPs were in attendance, along with Howell, Patterson, County Clerk Pat Poole and Administrative Assistant to the Judge Yvonne Settlemoir. A handful of citizens were also on hand, but did not address the court during the time for public input.