The Cleburne County Quorum Court held its March meeting on Thursday, March 14. Among the speakers were Cleburne County Economic Developer Dara Samuel and Mark Johnson of the Sugarloaf Heritage Council.
Before hearing from the speakers, the Court addressed unfinished business from the previous session concerning a question posed by J.P. Jacque Martin about county hiring practices. Martin had questioned whether the county was following legal guidelines regarding notification of job vacancies. The question was tabled until the next session in order for County Attorney Holly Meyer to investigate the matter. After researching the matter, Meyer was able to determine that Cleburne County was following Arkansas law in its hiring and notification practices. Unsatisfied with the finding, Martin argued that federal law dictated otherwise. Martin correlated federal employment discrimination law with the county’s notification practices for job vacancies; however, Meyer and Judge Jerry Holmes informed Martin that the two were not connected. The county conducts its job notification procedure in accordance with Arkansas law and, as Judge Holmes pointed out, with federal employment law. “How does that apply here?” said Holmes, “We don’t have a practice of discriminating.” Holly Meyer explained the difference between what Martin was arguing and what employment discrimination entailed. “We are in compliance with state and federal law,” said Meyer. Although Martin continued to argue that job vacancy notifications and discrimination were related, the Court decided to move on to new business.
After finishing old business, Cleburne County Economic Developer Dara Samuel spoke to the Court about a renewed focus on tourism by the CCED. “We have to bring tourism back,” said Samuel. Samuel has been speaking with various business and state organization, including a recent meeting with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. She talked to the Court about various grants and proposals her office is considering to develop the county’s economy.
Mark Johnson of the Sugarloaf Heritage Council spoke to the Court and gave them a first look at the new Sugarloaf Trails brochure. He thanked the County for its continued support of the project and updated them on the current status of the trails. In addition to starting a new Hidden Pond trail, Council and its volunteers have resurfaced the traditional summit trail and added bridges, along with the newer trails that have been added in the past year. “Visitation has improved so much that parking on the weekend has become an issue,” said Johnson. Johnson also welcomed the Court and the public to attend the annual Heritage Day on the ASU campus on May 18.
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In other new business, the Court approved an amendment correcting a mistake on last month’s starting salaries ordinance, an adjusted budget ordinance reflecting a $10,000 donation for volunteer fire departments, and a resolution for a mutual aid agreement with the White County OEM.
In closing, Judge Jerry Holmes discussed the possibility of finding someone to landscape the courthouse lawn on the Square. In particular, Holmes felt that the cedar tree on the front lawn takes away from the view of the building. The Court will look into possible landscaping ideas for the lawn. The next Cleburne County Quorum Court meeting will be held on Thursday, April 11, at 6pm.