QC Approves Succession Ordinances, Resolution of Support

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Members of the Clay County Quorum Court approved four ordinances at Monday night's regular meeting at Corning, two of which establish the succession of power should either the county judge or sheriff be unable to fulfill their jobs during time of emergency. The court also passed a resolution supporting the establishment of medical marijuana growing operations and dispensaries in the county, at the request of a local businessman, and heard a proposal for a pay raise request for the county's juvenile officers.

With JP Mike Hill absent from the gathering, the meeting was called to order by Judge Mike Patterson.

After dispensing with the usual consent agenda items the court turned its attention to Ordinance 2017-10. This ordinance allows the Clay County Sheriff's Department to obtain short-term financing, and was placed on all three readings. On a vote of 8-0 the ordinance was approved, along with the accompanying emergency clause.

Justices then considered Ordinance 2017-11, which provides guidelines for the interim filling of vacancies for the office of county judge during an emergency. The executive order stipulates that in the event the judge cannot perform his duties the administrative assistant would serve in the interim, followed by the OEM director then the county road superintendent.

The measure was approved on all three readings, title only, along with the emergency clause on a vote of 8-0.

Ordinance 2017-12 served the same purpose, but established the guidelines for the interim filling of vacancies in the office of county sheriff. Under the executive order, in the event the sheriff cannot fulfill his duties the chief deputy would assume responsibility. The measure further stipulated the county coroner would be next in the line of succession, followed by the county judge if needed.

This ordinance was also approved on all three readings, title only, along with the accompanying emergency clause.

The final ordinance for consideration was 2017-13, which appropriates funding and amends the 2017 budgets. Specifically, the ordinance appropriates grant funds for a point mapping effort, transferring monies and earmarking them for other purposes. The ordinance was also placed on all three readings, title only, and approved on a roll call vote of 8-0, along with the emergency clause.

The court then heard from Scot Sale, of Piggott, concerning a resolution of support for medical marijuana cultivation and sale within the county. Earlier this year Sale filed letters of incorporation with the Secretary of State's office to form NEA Spectrum Medical, LLC and NEA Spectrum Cultivators, LLC as part of the process for applying with the state for consideration of licenses.

Sale provided the justices with background on the effort, and indicated his interest in medical marijuana began after a close family member was advised to try it for a serious condition by staff at the Mayo Clinic.

He noted a group of Clay County investors, along with an individual from Colorado, were backing the effort financially and asked for the court's approval in the form of the resolution.

“We hope to build both a growing operation and dispensary, and we look forward to giving back to the county by becoming one of your bigger taxpayers,” he explained. “It should provide a pretty good income.”

Sale answered questions from the JPs, and explained more about the application process.

“The application is about 1,000 pages, and we have to provide a business plan from now to 10 years in the future,” he offered. “But, the people we're involved with want to do the best job they can and provide the best medicine we can.”

When asked his feedback on the matter, Sheriff Terry Miller added. “I didn't vote for it, but I understand it can be a helpful tool to the medical field and it's here. The Governor signed it into law.”

He also noted that the efforts which are approved by the state will be closely regulated.

“They'll be highly controlled, that's for sure,” he explained. A sentiment echoed by Sale.

Following the discussion Justice David Cagle offered the motion to introduce the resolution, which was approved on a vote of 8-0.

The justices also heard from D.C. Barnes, district supervisor for juvenile officers in the Second Judicial District. He was on hand to request a pay increase for the three Clay County officers, and noted the state should be able to cover some of the increase.

Barnes was requesting the increase in an effort to bring the pay in Clay County into line with other regional counties, and cited Greene County as an example. He estimated the increase would be around $6,700 the first year, but noted state reimbursements should keep the figure to around $6,000 in subsequent years.

The justices agreed the matter should be addressed during budget meetings, and asked Barnes to return for the October gathering with additional information.

During his update, Patterson reported the county was planning to do the hazard mitigation plan which is required each five years. The judge noted the study has about a $37,500 price tag, but indicated he had secured a grant which will cover about $28,000 of the total from FEMA.

He also reported a $44,000 grant from ADEM, which will be used to pay for about half the cost of replacing a rural bridge between Pollard and McDougal. Patterson's office is also applying for two grants, which will be used to pay architects to evaluate needed upgrades and repairs to the courthouses in Piggott and Corning.

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