By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian
In a 10-1 vote, Clark County justices of the peace voiced approval Monday to use $1.6 million in federal funds for work at the county landfill in Joan.
The funds — federal money awarded to the county from the American Rescue Act plan — will be used to close a portion of the landfill and to clean sediment from a pond located within its boundaries. Monday’s action leaves $2.9 million in available ARA funds. The other option, county Judge Troy Tucker told justices, would be to use $448,000 in a CD set aside to pay financial assurance and to appropriate money from other funds in order to close the near-capacity portion of the landfill.
Justices heard a presentation from Owen Carpenter, engineering manager at the Bryant-based Terracon Consultants Inc., regarding the situation at the landfill. Tucker, who did much of the talking, reiterated that the county’s landfill is not where household garbage is taken — it’s transported on a daily basis to a Class 1 landfill in Saline County — but rather a lower class landfill where building materials and demolition debris are hauled to and dumped.
Once the 10-acre cell is closed, the next move justices will be faced with is the opening of a new cell, a financial decision separate from using the $1.6 million to close out the old cell. During his presentation, Carpenter pointed out that there will be future closures of additional cells at the landfill.
Both Tucker and Carpenter fielded questions from justices. District 2 Justice Michael Ankton inquired about cost-sharing opportunities among municipalities that use the landfill. He was told there would be none, as the landfill isn’t used for municipal solid waste. District 6 Justice Mark Overturf asked what would become of the CD money if the court opted for the ARA funds. Tucker said the former would remain in an account for future county needs. District 10 Justice Wayne Baumgardner asked about the life expectancy of the landfill. Tucker estimated it has “somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 years” of use.
In addition to opening a new cell, Tucker said he’s asking the state Department of Environmental Quality to modify the county’s permit to accept certain industrial waste from local industries. “We have identified some of those industries,” Tucker said, but did not specify which industries he was referencing. Though the permit modification has yet to be approved, Tucker said he is “optimistic” that it will happen.
As for using the ARA funds, Tucker added, “It’s not what my first choice would be to spend $1.6 million on … but I think it’s required.”
At the motion of District 8 Justice B.J. Johns, the court voted 10-1 in favor of appropriating the funds, with District 4 Justice Albert Neal casting the only dissenting vote. Prior to discussing the landfill issue, Neal was also opposed to allowing the appropriation ordinance on the agenda in the first place.
As it was the court’s first meeting of a year after an election — there are five new justices on the court — Neal had argued that Monday’s gathering was limited to organizational purposes like setting procedural rules and setting the meeting time. County attorney Todd Turner said he was unaware of any statute written to that effect. Neal had motioned to omit the appropriation ordinance from the agenda, but that motion died for a lack of a second.
In other business
• Tucker said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the building of DeGray Lake on Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Corps visitors center on Skyline Drive. There will be a shuttle available from the Iron Mountain Spillway parking lot.
• Tucker reported the county’s newly revamped website is nearly complete.
• District 7 Justice Jenna Scott motioned for the formation of two committees — one to investigate the conditions of and make recommendations for the county’s jail facility, and one to make recommendations and ensure progress on the Lakeview area at DeGray Lake. Tucker spent little time responding to Scott’s request, saying he would consider it before the court abruptly adjourned the meeting.