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QC Holds First Meeting of Year

The Mississippi County Quorum Court met Tuesday for their first meeting of 2019. Three Justices of the Peace — Slyvester Belcher, Alvin Clay and Fred Fleeman— were not in attendance.

The hot button issue of the night came with the third appropriation ordinance giving local business owner John Prunty a private club license so he can operate the Essence Event Center, Inc.

The first reading passed and then Justice of the Peace Howard “Bubba” Norvell asked that it be read by title only for the second reading, with Justice of the Peace Betty Hepler seconding the motion.

During the second reading, Justice of the Peace Michael White spoke out, saying, “Judge, point of order. I’m sorry, but to advance it we actually have to have a vote whether we advance it or not.”

When roll was called Justice Rick Ash and Justice Bill Nelson voted no. In order to suspend the rules they would need to have two-thirds approval, which would be eight JPs voting in the affirmative. Therefore, it did not pass and the second reading will be held at next month’s QC meeting.

Meanwhile, County Treasurer Peggy Meatte told the audience that the current interest rate for the county is 2.54 percent and the County General Fund balance is at $2,295,054.02.

In other news, the QC adopted a resolution of support for the issuance of bonds by Mississippi County for the purpose of financing improvements to the county courthouses in Blytheville and Osceola.

The next resolution dealt with County Judge John Alan Nelson applying for the Arkansas Heritage Preservation Plan Grant. According to Nelson, if the referendum passes for the renovation of the new courthouse on February 12 and the county did get the grant, he said they could lower the expenses of the courthouse renovations by $300,000-$400,000.

If the referendum doesn’t pass, it would help support the expenses on the roof.

According to the resolution, the grant will be in the amount of $397,000 to aid and assist in repairs to the Blytheville courthouse.

Justice Nelson motioned to read the measure. After County Clerk Janice Currie read the resolution Justice Nelson moved for adoption and Justice Norvell seconded. It was approved unanimously.

Justice Nelson also told Judge Nelson that Tamika Jenkins, who works with Economic Developer Clif Chitwood, does help write grants if there was a need for any assistance. Judge Nelson stated he would keep in touch.

The QC also appropriated the ordinance for Armorel Public Schools to work with the Sheriff’s Department regarding a School Resource Officer.

Armorel will pay the salary and for the benefits of the officer, which totals $51,379.59. The Sheriff’s Department will supply the officer, car and uniform.

The second appropriation ordinance authorized and modified county employment position, which was originally “Bookkeeper” and Slot No. 3, to the title of “Public Affairs Director”.

The Public Affairs Director hired was Steven Savage.

The last appropriation ordinance approved concerned bonus pay for county employees, which was paid for the calendar year of 2018 without the issuance of an appropriation of funds ordinance.

White moved to adopt the appropriation ordinance and stated, “Judge, we were so concerned and in a little bit of a push in getting bonuses out to the county employees before Black Friday and Thanksgiving shopping season for Christmas that we moved this very quickly through the court and neglected to appropriate the money after we approved it in the finance committee. So, we just have to back up. We did check with all of our state officials and this is the appropriate way to handle this.”