Fri March 29, 2024

By Jeff Smithpeters

Politics Local Community

Hempstead Quorum Court approves funds for broadband publicity effort, hears request for designation of county road

Hempstead County Quorum Court Justice Of The Peace Ed Darling Justice Of The Peace Steve Atchley Arkansas Broadband Office
Hempstead Quorum Court approves funds for broadband publicity effort, hears request for designation of county road
In an under-20 minute meeting, the Hempstead County Quorum Court took one vote, which passed unanimously and heard a request from a Spring Hill mother.  The meeting can be seen in its entirety below this story.

After the preliminaries of an opening prayer, a pledge of allegiance and a quick approval of the minutes for the February meeting, the court, with JP Ed Darling presiding in the absence of County Judge Jerry Crane, asked for consideration of a plan to spend $4,142.60 from American Rescue Plan Act funds on mailouts and flyers. 

The material would inform county residents about an effort to make sure the state has accurate and up-to-date information about which homes in the county still lack access to broadband quality internet, meaning that they already have or could subscribe to service that provides at least 100 mbps download and 20 mbps upload speeds. 

Before the vote, Justice of the Peace Steve Atchley spoke about the effort, in which residents have only a 30-day period which started March 20th, to report to county officials on the state of their internet coverage.  

Residents are advised to consult a map on the Arkansas Broadband Office website, seek their exact address, determine whether their address is correctly described with the dot it is given (red for unserved, grey for served, blue for underserved and green for funded) and, if a correction is necessary, either file a challenge on line or notify their local county official. Atchley said residents can also call the Hope-Hempstead County Economic Development office to file a challenge, too. 

Before challenging on the basis of the speed of broadband service the resident is receiving, they are advised to take three speed tests at separate times and report those results (along with a photo of evidence of subscription to a broadband provider, i.e. a bill). 

With the information provided, the state would know what to communicate with the several internet service providers receiving federal funds to install internet lines and equipment. 

The vote to approve the funds to distribute the information was approved by unanimous voice vote. 

Next, the JPs heard a request from Heather Leonard of Spring Hill to dedicate a length of county highway in the Spring Hill area to her late son Preston Leonard, who died June 28th of 2023 after unknowingly ingesting a dose of fentanyl.  

After her presentation, JP Darling said he would speak to County Judge Crane about the request. 

There was a brief discussion on whether to keep the current time at which Quorum Court meetings begin 4:30 p.m. The switch from 5:30 p.m. had been approved last fall after the time change to standard time.  The consensus seemed to be with keeping the meeting time 4:30 p.m. 

The meeting adjourned about 17 minutes after it began.