City & County

Sheriff to talk jail at QC meeting

Clark County Sheriff Jason Watson is scheduled to speak soon to justices of the peace regarding conditions of the county jail.

The Clark County Quorum Court will hold its next regular session Monday, March 13, at 5:30 p.m. in the Court Complex Building, 419 Clay St.

Watson’s presentation comes on the heels of February’s quorum court meeting, when justices voted 5-6 against the proposed formation of a committee to make recommendations to the full court.

Justice Jenna Scott (R-Joan), who proposed the committee, said she had toured the jail facilities to discover plumbing issues that forced the county to ship its prisoners to detention centers in other cities.

Since then, Chief Deputy Raymond Funderburk gave The Arkadelphian a tour of the jail where portions of the concrete floor had been jackhammered out to make plumbing repairs, which have since been made and new concrete poured. In the meantime, the 20 or so prisoners who would otherwise be held within that block were farmed out to other jails.

Watson said his presentation will focus on ongoing maintenance and “future needs of the jail.” He reported the cell block that was closed for repairs has since re-opened, and that there were 41 prisoners in the jail on Tuesday. Its capacity is 49 prisoners.

Economic development tax

Bruce Bell, newly elected president of the Clark County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is also slated to address members of the court.

Bell will speak on the 1/2-cent sales tax that funds the Economic Development Corp. of Clark County. He has been a vocal opponent of the tax since the EDCCC board and quorum court established guidelines for small businesses to apply for incentive funding.

Bell and others in the African American community have argued before public boards that supporters of the tax made false promises during the campaign to pass the 15-year tax.

Ordinance on table to continue services with JP’s architect firm

Newly elected Justice Mark Overturf’s day job is designing buildings. Overturf (R-Arkadelphia/DeGray) is a partner at Twin Rivers Architecture, an Arkadelphia-based firm that has contracted with Clark County on occasions in past years.

To that end, fellow justices will consider an ordinance allowing the county judge to allow claims for the purchase of services from Twin Rivers Architect. A state statute allows an ordinance that would authorize the county to continue doing business with the firm.

Attached to the ordinance is an emergency clause noting that the county was already under contract with Twin Rivers Architect when Overturf won a seat on the quorum court, and that “it is necessary for Clark County to continue paying for contracted services.” Twin Rivers is the only known firm in Clark County that can provide the necessary services.

Other business

Justices will also take up a second reading of an ordinance that would establish a livestream service for quorum court meetings, as well as a second reading of an ordinance raising the per diem compensation for justices of the peace.

There is also a pair of ordinances to appropriate funds and make additions to the county budget.

The meeting is open to the public.