JPs Handle Light Agenda

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Members of the Clay County Quorum Court handled a light agenda at Monday night's regular meeting, held at the courthouse in Piggott. During the gathering the JPs approved Ordinance 2017-14, which amends the current year budget, heard an update on the effort by the Clay County Rescue Task Force in response to the recent hurricanes and reviewed current county projects.

With justices Mike Hill and David Cagle 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 the proposed ordinance.

Ordinance 2017-14

The proposed ordinance served to appropriate funds for the Clay County Coroner's department, applying $1,600 to small equipment. The monies were transferred from a variety of line items, including general supplies; clothing and uniform; medical, dental and hospital; and other professional services.

The ordinance also applied $2,900 to the small equipment fund for the juvenile probation department, raising the total to $4,900.

The ordinance was introduced, title only, and the justices chose to waive the requirement it be read on three seperate occasions. It was approved on a voice vote of 7-0, along with the accompanying emergency clause.

Patterson next offered a report on the Rescue Task Force's trip to the Houston, Tex., area to help with hurricane relief efforts.

“They did just a tremendous job, and outstanding job,” he offered. “Sheriff (Terry) Miller can tell you more about it, but they were about the only outfit that was equipped to actually physically rescue people. They showed up with the right equipment to do the job.”

Miller echoed the thoughts, adding “we're real proud of them.”

Patterson also indicated FEMA will be reimbursing the county for fuel, food and other expenses related to the assistance.

Later, he also updated efforts to seek reimbursement for work done earlier this year in relation to the flooding in Clay County.

“We thought we were going to get the money back for what we've spent on the work around Success,” he offered. “But, we've heard that a lot of those funds might be shifted to Texas to deal with the hurricanes.”

The judge noted he had been pushing crews to complete some of the jobs, understanding the county would only be reimbursed if the work was complete.

“When we heard they may be shifting some of those funds I cut back on having chat hauled into that area,” he explained. “If it looks like things are going to be improving we'll get back on it right away.”

Patterson also informed court members of a resignation on the Equalization Board—which he says has remained very busy lately.

“We're having a lot of the folks who have invested in chicken operations question the assessments,” he noted. “Harold Vincent has resigned, although he only had about a year left on his term.”

The judge indicated Vincent had done a good job, and asked the court members to look into a replacement.

“They do very important work, and he was one of the two who are appointed by the board by the court,” he added. “There are people who feel the assessments are not right, but I can assure everyone that our millage rates are very similar to surrounding counties, and they are not being overcharged by no means.”

He also noted there is a process in which taxpayers may also appear before him to question an assessment, but indicated at that point legal counsul is required.

The justices also briefly discussed the placement of no trespassing signs along levees in the county, and asked both Patteson and Miller to look into the subject.

“I don't know who put them up, but we can find out,” Patterson offered. “I've had at least one brought to my attention and I've heard of a couple of others.”

He reported to the court that the county is responsible for taking care of about two miles of levee in the St. Francis area, while the remainder is cared for by the Corps of Engineers.

“In a lot of these areas there are several landowners along the levees, we don't want to deny anyone legal access,” he concluded. “But, we also have to be aware of problems caused by four-wheelers and trucks and such. We need the levees to work when we need them.”

Miller also indicated he would look into the signs, and provide an update at the next meeting.

During his update, Patterson also reported on the purchase of new equipment through the state.

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