QC Holds First Meeting Under New County Judge

Thursday, January 26, 2017
Members of the Clay County Quorum Court gathered for a group photo at the conclusion of their first meeting of 2017. Pictured are, from left: Front-Justice Mike Hill, Justice Jodie Henderson, Judge Mike Patterson, Justice Jeff Douglas and Justice David Cagle. Back-Justice Dennis Haines, Justice John Mansker, Justice Greg Ahrent, Justice Richie Culver and Justice Duane Blanchard.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

Tuesday, Jan. 17, members of the Clay County Quorum Court convened for their first gathering of the new year. The meeting, held at the courthouse in Piggott, marked the first for Judge Mike Patterson and Justice Duane Blanchard, of Corning. Both were elected during the most recent election cycle, as Patterson replaced the retiring Gary Howell and Blanchard won the seat previously occupied by appointee Jim Clifton.

"I just want to take a minute and welcome everyone," Patterson told those assembled. "It's been interesting these past couple of weeks, but I'm starting to get settled in and look forward to working with everyone."

With all members in attendance, along with County Clerk Pat Poole and Administrative Assistant Yvonne Settlemoir, Patterson called the meeting to order. After dispensing with the consent agenda items, they turned their attention to old business.

"We need to declare a vacancy in the office of constable for Bradshaw and Haywood Township, and Johnny Gardner expressed an interest in the job," Patterson noted.

The vacancy arose last year when Constable Jeff Featherston moved out of state, but at the time the court decided to wait until after the first to avoid having to handle the matter twice, as the previous constable was both the incumbent and was unopposed in the primary.

The justices voted 9-0 to offer Gardner as the replacement, which will be named by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the future.

Under new business the JPs considered Ordinance 2017-01-250.03, which authorizes the county to do business with First National Bank of Corning. The measure was required due to Blanchard's election to the quorum court, and the fact he is employed at FNB.

With Blanchard abstaining, the ordinance was placed on all three readings, title only, and approved on a vote of 8-0 along with the accompanying emergency clause.

Court members also selected Justice David Cagle, of Rector, as the representative delegate to serve on the 75 member state governing body.

The justices also amended the agenda, and a previous measure concerning air ambulance services for county employees. The previous contract, secured with Survival Flight, was amended to cover all elected officials and quorum court members, including the coroner, during their time on the job.

The county had agreed late last year to enter into an agreement with the firm, and pay a cost of $10 per person for the plan. Those included also have the option of paying an additional $30 to cover all the members of their families, and themselves, outside of work hours.

The change was approved on a vote of 9-0.

During his update, Patterson noted the grading effort had been slowed by recent rains, but promised the road graders would be out in force as the week progresses. He noted the operators were beginning to become more familiar with the new equipment, and added he expected them to cover more area as they did.

"Down the road we need to think about selling-off some of the old graders we have," he added. "Not all of them, we need reserves, but it's something we need to be thinking about."

Cagle also took a moment to clarify the agreement with former judge Howell concerning the purchase of gravel from his pit. Last year an agreement was reached for Howell to provide gravel free to the county for two months in exchange to opening-up the pit and providing access. After the agreement ended the continued to haul gravel from the pit, but at the fair market price.

"I just wanted to be sure we're paying the man for his gravel," Cagle offered.

Patterson also took a moment to applaud the work ethic of the county employees noting, "some people may not think they work hard, or get much done, but if you just listen to that radio some days you'll know just how busy these folks are--and how much they get done," he surmised.

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