Clark County sheriff’s deputies are leaving, and the county’s top officials say it’s because of low salaries
By JOEL PHELPS | arkadelphian.com
In a brief address Monday to members of the Clark County Quorum Court, Sheriff Jason Watson said his office has five positions that need to immediately be filled.
The sheriff’s office on Monday lost two deputies and three jailers, Watson said. One of the deputies left for a mechanic position with the Union Pacific railroad, while the other took a job with the Garland County Sheriff’s Office. Both left, he said, for more money. The sheriff didn’t name the deputies, but noted one will make upwards to $9,000 more working in Hot Springs, while the one leaving for the railroad will double his salary after the move.
The base salary for Clark County deputies is $32,000.
“We are gonna have to adjust our deputies’ pay, we are really getting behind,” county Judge Troy Tucker said following Watson’s comments. “I know we all want to do that. We’re just going to have to find the funds somehow.”
The judge admitted the county likely won’t be able to match other agencies with one lump salary increase, and would instead work on incremental raises. The issue will be discussed in upcoming Budget Committee meetings, Tucker said.
An Arkadelphia man’s experience in NYC when the World Trade Center towers were hit
The Sept. 11 Quorum Court meeting drew a crowd of about 15 citizens. Starting off the meeting was an address from District Judge Randy Hill, who recounted his unique experience of being in New York City at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Hill was in the Big Apple for what was supposed to be a one-day trip for routine attorney work, but he found himself instead watching the Manhattan chaos from the window of a jet airliner on the LaGuardia runway. A fellow passenger pointed out what appeared to be a large fire at one of the WTC buildings, then Hill and other passengers watched a portion of the rest unfold. The pilot would soon announce the plane would return to the airport, which was soon thereafter evacuated.
Hill spent the next few days in what he described as a “chaotic” New York City, then was able to drive home in a rented car. What he remembers most is seeing all the patriotic displays across the countryside and Americans “coming together in acts of kindness.”
“It was one of the scariest things I’ve been through,” said Hill, whose luck with plane travel is just that: luck. Just two years prior to the 9/11 incident, Hill was a survivor of the 1999 crash of American Airlines Flight 1420 at the Little Rock National Airport.
Following Hill’s address, an extended moment of silence was given for the memory of the lives lost on the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Hill would then deliver the meeting’s invocation.
Shelley Short, CEO of the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance, provided justices with a detailed second-quarter report of activities by the Alliance and the Economic Development Corp. of Clark County. Here’s a rundown of Short’s report:
• Veolia’s new Italian-made kiln made its trip halfway around the globe to the Gum Springs plant as the voyage made state headlines and drew countless spectators to watch as a specialized convoy crept through Southwest Arkansas towns and along state highways.
Shelley Short shows Clark County justices courthouse artwork by Alliance staffer E’Lyse Thaxton. The piece was given to the county for display at the courthouse.
• The Clark County Education Consortium, made up of each public school and university in the county, as well as Arkansas State University Three Rivers and Dawson Education Cooperative, held its second meeting. Short said the consortium allows top educators to network on a personal level and discuss the issues in their field.
• The Alliance has begun specialized marketing for available EDCCC-owned properties.
• While the EDCCC turned down a federal grant opportunity due to a time crunch, Short said she is working on “something else” related to the railroad but couldn’t discuss further details.
Quorum Court position open
The court declared a vacancy for fellow Justice Mark Overturf, a longtime Clark Countian who recently moved to Jonesboro for a job. Overturf’s leaving leaves a vacancy for District 6, which encompasses the DeGray community and a large area generally west of Arkadelphia.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will appoint someone to fill the vacancy. Judge Tucker said he contacted the governor’s office on Monday regarding the vacancy, and would submit the official vacancy on Tuesday.
Asked if there is a timeline for filling the position, Tucker said that decision is in the governor’s hands.
District 6 residents interested in the position should contact the governor’s office directly. Tucker said he has had some interest in the position but did not mention names.
More tax talk from NAACP president
Bruce Bell, president of the Clark County NAACP branch, was given 5 minutes to address the court regarding the 1/2-cent sales tax that funds economic development work in the county.
Bell pleaded with the court to override the EDCCC’s “arbitrary refusal to fund small or retail and service businesses” from tax proceeds. He offered a timeline of the tax and formation of the EDCCC, from its 2007 inception through the 2021 election putting the quorum court in charge of the funds and creating a new set of guidelines allowing local retailers to tap into tax incentives.
“Unfortunately, these guidelines were tampered with by EDCCC officials,” Bell said, urging justices to address legal uncertainties surrounding the guidelines. “The Clark County Quorum Court needs to revise, amend, adjust the current ordinance and guidelines so that it can be in alignment with the promises made to the minority community before passage of this tax.”