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Independence County Quorum Court hears sheriff’s report, approves ordinance involving industrial park

The Independence County Quorum Court had a busy night at its meeting Monday.

The council approved a resolution to provide for the interim filling of a vacancy for the office of Independence County Sheriff during times of emergency.

Arkansas state law regarding interim filling of vacancies for the office of county judge and sheriff has been amended to require a policy statement of the sheriff designating three persons in succession to fill the vacancy in the office of sheriff on an interim basis until the vacancy is filled by the quorum court or the disability of the sheriff is abated.

The state law requires the quorum court to adopt the policy statement.

Sheriff Shawn Stephens designated three people to fill the office during the emergency in the following line of succession: 1. Mike Price; 2. Ernie Gillihan; and 3. Aaron Moody.

The JPs unanimously approved the resolution.

During his monthly report, Sheriff Stephens asked the court to approve the payment of compensatory time in the amount of 11.5 hours. The JPs approved.

He also said the jail transport van is unsafe. He wants to replace it with funds taken from his office’s communications fund. The JPs approved that request, too.

The JPs also approved his request to increase the salary for a bailiff. He said the pay is $6,000 less than that of a certified deputy. He proposed using the pay for a part-time deputy to increase the salary for one bailiff. Eventually, he said three would be needed.

Finally, the sheriff said since the jail no longer houses women, three female inmates are being housed in other counties, a cost of $250 a day. The number fluctuates from day to day, he said. He said he had recently hired six female jailers, but that three of them have already left.

In other action, the court approved an ordinance Monday concerning the Batesville-Independence County Industrial Development Corporation.

The ordinance amends the ordinance that created the corporation in 1980. The corporation was established to establish an industrial park, which it did.

The amended ordinance expands the purpose of the corporation by adding “attracting and developing businesses and service, and developing and maintaining infrastructure to support these activities.”

It also adds three ex-officio members to the corporation’s board: the mayor of Batesville, the county judge and the executive director of the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce. The ex-officio members shall have no vote and shall not be counted in determining if a quorum is present.

Another section of the new ordinance permits the corporation to receive funds from the city, the county, and other appropriate sources and to use these funds for the following purposes: to purchase or obtain by gift real property to be used as an industrial park suitable for the location of industrial development and the creation of additional jobs;
to attract and develop businesses and services including, but not limited to, retail businesses, restaurants, transportation, businesses and services supporting recreation and tourism, and medical services; and to develop and maintain infrastructure in support of these activities.

The amended ordinance allows the board of directors to establish reserves and to invest them or any other funds coming into the corporation in bonds, certificates of deposit, savings accounts or other business and/or industrial property as the board may deem satisfactory.

The ordinance was approved by a unanimous vote of the court.

In other action, the court reappointed Equalization Board members Orville Arms, Arthur Montgomery, Sam Hurley and Parmer Hankins. The terms are for three years and will expire in June 2021.

Reporting by Bob Qualls



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