The Cleburne County Quorum Court held its monthly meeting Thursday in its first meeting since the passing of Justice of the Peace Bobby Mooney. The Court voted to officially designate Mooney's position as vacant so it can be filled. J.P. Steve Choate told the Court he talked to Mooney's widow, Lynn, and invited her to speak to the Court, but Mrs. Mooney respectfully declined the invitation due to health concerns. Choate also told the Court that Mrs. Mooney was not interested in stepping into the vacant J.P. position and that she thanks all Court members for their support and comforting words that she received. A moment of silence was taken to honor Mr. Mooney. After the moment of silence, County Judge Jerry Holmes praised Mooney as a friend and said the position would be filled by appointment from Governor Mike Beebe until the next election in 2014. J.P. Brent Foust asked if the Court could create a plaque in memory of Mooney and honoring his 13 ½ years of service to the community. Holmes said that it was something they would look into.
A resolution supported by JPs Jacque Martin and Alan Malone passed after much debate. The resolution addressed the Blueway Designation of the White River, which was, until recently, a federal initiative to bring the White River basin into a program meant to promote outdoor recreation in national parks and other public lands. After vocal backlash from some local Arkansas and Missouri groups, the designation was rescinded earlier this month. Although the resolution, which puts Cleburne County in opposition to the designation, is aimed at a policy that is no longer in effect, Martin and Malone insisted on keeping it on the table and voting on it as a principled stand against the federal government. Martin also took the opportunity to once again take a verbal swipe at the political action/interest group Secure Arkansas, which was an active opponent to the designation. Although she shares some of the same political views as the group, Martin called Secure Arkansas a "group of conspiracy theorists" in what has become somewhat of a publicly aired personal war with the group, first seen in a video during last election season when she confronted Secure Arkansas speaker Jeannie Burlsworth at a meeting of the group at the Heber Springs Community Center and had to be escorted out by security. After some debate about the point of having a resolution addressing a non-issue, the Court passed the resolution.
ASU-Heber Springs Vice-Chancellor Dr. Chris Boyett addressed the Court to request an application be submitted to Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism for a grant through the Trails for Life fund. A city or municipal government must submit the grant. Although the grant will come through the county, ASU-Heber Springs will maintain the trail and the grant will help make the trail ADA compatible so it can be accessed by persons with disabilities. Jacque Martin, who in the last meeting said rural areas "don't need trails" and compared them to dangerous urban trails in Houston, grilled Boyett, but in the end the Court unanimously agreed to allow Holmes to submit the grant application. Boyett thanked the Court for their support over the years. "Fifteen years ago, ASU began offering classes in Heber Springs," said Boyett. "We would like to thank the Court for the support they've given us throughout the years."
Page 2 of 2 - J.P. Tim Caldwell asked the Court if they could take part in a funds matching program with volunteer fire departments in the county. The idea was to match, up to $500, moneys raised by the departments. Caldwell proposed taking part in the program each year and calling it the Bobby Mooney Matching Fund.