Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part CXX): Still trying to open that jail

Various issues of the Newton County Times this summer reported on several "law and order" issues, including ongoing efforts to get funds to open the new jail, which was dedicated about year ago, but which remains closed due to lack of operating funds. (Read related posts here and here). The Newton County Quorum Court (essentially the County Board of Supervisors) is seeking a $400K grant from the Arkansas Rural Development Commission "using $1,050,000 in community cash and in-kind services used to build the facility as the local match."  The $400K would fund operations and purchase equipment and furnishings.

The Mt. Sherman Historical Community Center also applied for an Arkansas Rural Development Commission grant for $14.435.  If granted, the funds would be used to make the front porch handicap accessible, build a back porch, replace doors, construct a handicapped ramp and fad and finish the interior with drywall and paint.  

The Newton County Fair Association requested $15,000 from a General Improvement Fund County Fair Grant.  The funds would be used to build a fence around the grounds with "6-foot-tall 11 gauge chain link fence with two 12-foot rolling gates and a six-foot-tall walk-in gate.  I note that some vandalism of the fair grounds has occurred in recent years.  Earlier this summer, the Fair Association sought a $4k grant to assist in adding air conditioning to the main concession stand.  The Association raised $4,258 through "community case and in-kind donations to be applied to the project as a local match."  

The Quorum Court also noted receipt of the following unanticipated funds:  
  • $9,800 from the state to purchase voting equipment.
  • $37,854.50 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for payments due from previous years' disasters
  • $361.20 in restitution appropriated into the county road and machinery fund. 
In other news, the Newton County Volunteer Fire Association wants access to an old tower, once used by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and located between Bass and Lurton.  They need access in order to attach a radio repeater which would improve communications between the country's rural fire departments.  The Association and the Quorum Court are investigating how to gain access, because it is unclear whether the Corp of Engineers still has an easement since the tower was decommissioned in 2003.    

An auction of four parcels of land on which taxes are overdue has yielded $61,189.95.  The State Land Commissioner's office conducts one tax-delinquent land sale per county per year.  Seventeen bidders attended the sale on July 16.  The owners of the property on which taxes had not been paid were given the opportunity to pay those taxes before the properties were auctioned.  

The county coroner has announced the need for deputies to help carry out duties on a part-time basis.  The deputies would be paid per call, plus mileage.  Anyone interested in helping carry out the duties of corner "in a respectful manner" should contact coroner Cody Middleton, who is in his first term in this elected office.  

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