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Hempstead County Quorum Court Discusses 2019 Audit; Juries Cancelled Sept. 28

The Hempstead County Quorum Court met Thursday night to discuss approval of the 2019 audit.

Before the meeting, Circuit Clerk Gail Wolfenbarger announced that juries are cancelled on September 28.

The meeting was called to order at 5:30 p.m. After the rollcall showed a quorum, the minutes of the previous meeting were accepted and there was no discussion of old business.

The approval of the 2019 audit was the only item on the agenda, and the motion to approve the audit passed unanimously, as the audit showed no financial discrepancies.

Afterward, a motion was brought forward to remove a 2012 Dodge Ram 4×4 as a fixed asset. The truck will be removed as a fixed asset and will go to auction after the motion met with unanimous approval.

Sheriff Singleton brought forward information that the county’s new transport van is getting repaired because of a door malfunction. In addition, Singleton said, the county is having trouble keeping deputies. Since the previous meeting of the Quorum Court, he said, he’s had deputies leave to work as police officers in Hope and others leave for other opportunities.

The deputies all sited monetary issues as their reason for leaving, as Hempstead County’s starting pay for a deputy is $31,000 per year, $32,000 with certification. The deputies that left to join Hope’s police force will start at $39,000 working for the city. Dispatch, Singleton said, makes more than his deputies do starting out.

The court agreed to look into the problem on a financial level and see if funding can be increased for the deputies.

On a brighter note, Singleton said, the county has applied for a $100,000 grant to start a new substance abuse treatment program. Similar to a Sevier County program that brought their recidivism (repeat offender) rate down from 70% to almost 17%, Singleton hopes to mirror that success in Hempstead County. The county is partnering with area churches for the program, which will include a 90-day program in jail, followed by a 9-month aftercare program, complete with vocational training.

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