The meeting began with an invocation said by Justice of the Peace Jessie Henry, who made mention of the loved ones of those who perished in the shootings in Lewiston, Maine as well as the turmoil in the Middle East.
After the pledge of allegiance was said came the approval of minutes from the October meeting, which was unanimous. Then, there being no old business, Justice of the Peace David Clayton began new business by reading Ordinance 2023-12 which is entitled “An Ordinance to Establish a Sub-fund to be Called the Solid Waste Dumpster Fee Fund.”
The creation of this sub-fund is needed, said Justice of the Peace Ed Darling, who chairs the Quorum Court’s budget committee, for two reasons. First, to make it possible for funds collected in solid waste dumpster fees to be able to be tracked. Second, to be able to move those funds to shore up the county’s road department funds.
“The Road Department has had no significant increase in state turnback or operating revenues in three or four years,” Darling said. “The county had been operating on the reserve fund that we had there. And with increases of 17 to 20 percent for asphalt and tiles and a lot of chemicals and the other things we’re using the need for additional revenue in our road fund is foremost and we have to do something.”
A roll call voice vote was then called by County Judge Jerry Crane with the result a unanimous approval for the ordinance.
JP Clayton then read Resolution 2023-04, entitled “A Resolution from Hempstead County to the Arkansas Highway Department to Rename Two Roads in Honor of Two Fallen Veterans.” The portion of Highway 67 which goes through Hope as West and East Third Streets will be renamed in honor of Sergeant Thomas Chad Rosenbaum. The portion of Highway 29 which goes through Hope as North Hazel and South Main will be renamed for Staff Sergeant Carlo Montell Robinson. Both were serving in the Iraq War when they were killed in action. Rosenbaum was 25 when killed September 18, 2004 in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Robinson was 33 when killed January 17, 2004 in Operation Enduring Freedom.
The resolution passed by unanimous vote. Justice of the Peace Steve Atchley said signs for the renaming are being placed ahead of others being made by the Arkansas Highway Department.
After this vote, JP Darling described a meeting of the Quorum Court budget committee which had occurred before the Quorum Court meeting began in which he apprised the members of the need to make an amendment to the current year budget to pay for work at the Hempstead County Jail. In the process of sewer pipe restoration work under the jail’s floor, it was found that the main support beam for the building had sunk.
Work to raise and stabilize this beam had gone over what had been budgeted for jail maintenance. The work is still ongoing, Darling said, but he expected in ten days that inmates, who have been housed elsewhere for an additional cost to the county as the work has proceeded, could return to the facility. Darling said he would be proofreading an ordinance over the weekend, which will presented later.
Judge Crane commended Sheriff James I. Singleton for coping with the project.
Next, Bonnie Raff of the John Cain Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution presented a talk about National Family Literacy Day which falls on November 1st. Among other information, she cited Arkansas’ adult literacy rate as being 86.3 percent, according to the recent census. She also invited men to consider joining Dads of Good Students at Clinton Primary School, in which men can help youngsters improve their reading skills. JP David Clayton said he was a participant in the program and found it “a blessing to be a part of.”
Judge Crane signed a proclamation for National Family Literacy Day. There was brief pause for photographs of Crane, JP Cherry Stewart and Raff displaying the proclamation.
Sheriff Singleton spoke about a planned Veterans Parade for Friday November 10 for which retired Army Colonel David Lively and Commander Herbert Ross of the American Legion Post 427 will be the parade’s grand marshals. Both served in the Vietnam War. On Veterans Day, a ceremony will take place starting at 11:00 a.m. at the Old Hempstead County Courthouse followed by free fish fry meals by the Lions Club provided to veterans and their families under the tent. Others can eat, too, at a cost of $10 a plate. JP Atchley, also a Lions Club member said the other Hope civic clubs, Kiwanis, Civitan and Rotary, are helping with the financing of the meal.
After the meeting, Darling said the sewer pipe work at the jail that had originally been estimated to cost $50,000 ended up costing the county around $210,000. Asked if this cost could be covered by insurance claim, Darling said no, that the damage fell under acts of God and would be covered by the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. “Hopefully we’ll get about eight more years of life [from the building] out of that project,” he said.