(right) addresses the meeting of the county's judges held Friday at the courthouse in Piggott.(TD photo/Tim Blair)
The meeting was actually called to allow the mayors to elect a delegate to serve on the East Arkansas Planning and Development District board of directors. Patterson also used the opportunity to talk to the mayors about the wants, and needs, of their cities and communities and how his office and the EAPDD can help.
"It's been an interesting month on the job," he told those gathered in the main courtroom of the eastern district courthouse. "I'm looking forward to working with all of you and I wanted to take this opportunity to get feedback from you and share ideas with the others."
Those on hand for the gathering included all but two of the county's mayors, including Jim Poole of Piggott, Teresa Roofe of Rector, Marty Conley of Pollard, W. F. "Bill" McHaffey of Greenway, Teressa Johnson of St. Francis, E.M. Perry of Nimmons, Carroll Shipman of McDougal, Jeremy Edington of Datto, Doris Sellmeyer of Knobel and Dianne Neill of Peach Orchard.
Also on hand were EAPDD Executive Director Melissa Rivers, chief of staff Jamie Brockwell and attorney Mike Cone. They were in attendance to explain the need for naming a delegate to the board, and to answer any questions the mayors might have about services and assistance through the organization.
Judge Patterson then provided an overview of the background of the organization, and outlined some of the earlier efforts which have benefited Clay County. Rivers also spoke about the work of the district, noting it services 12 counties in the region, from Clay County south to Phillips County.
During the discussion Patterson asked each of the mayors to talk about efforts through the EAPDD, and what future projects might require assistance. He noted Peach Orchard had acquired a safe room for the town, which will hold 100 residents, and other communities were in line for funds to help with their water and wastewater treatment efforts.
"We need to work together to get what we can, and these folks will work with us," he offered. "We want you to share what has worked, and what hasn't, in the past. I know some of you have some good success stories on getting projects funded, and we want you to share what works with us."
He also had each mayor review any grant, or loan, efforts they've had with the EAPDD and spoke highly of the ongoing paving effort in several local cities, funded by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.
Patterson told the mayors he has two goals for each city, town and community in Clay County.
"I want to see each community get a tornado safe room, and those that have water and wastewater treatment need back-up generators," he explained. "Those are two things I would like to see in every one of our communities, and it's something we can do."
He noted the need for tornado safe rooms is evident, and added the generators are also very important.
"Even if you have a back-up generator for your pump, so you can have water, you'll still need to be able to pump the wastewater out--that's very important," he added.
During their presentation, the EAPDD officials noted a representative is required from each county on the board of directors.
"We need someone to serve for an undetermined amount of time," Cone explained. "Some of the things which will be considered is a change in the way the by-laws are adjusted, dropping the requirement from a two-thirds to a simple majority vote."
The mayors, in turn, elected Mayor Poole of Piggott to serve in the capacity.
The group also had several questions for the EAPDD officials concerning programs, application processes and other particulars. Afterward, the judge and mayors noted they felt the meeting was a benefit, and indicated additional gatherings were in order.
"I think this is something we need to do on a regular basis, and if you all agree I'd like to plan on meeting about each month, or so," Patterson offered, and the mayors concurred.
The only county mayors not in attendance were Mayor Rob Young of Corning and Mayor Linda Brewer of Success.