As spring kicks into full swing, April is full to the brim with events. One of the April highlights of which the public may be less familiar is National County Government month. Counties across the country, including Cleburne County, will recognize the hard work and dedication of its employees, as well as the importance counties play in the lives of everyday citizens. To do its part, The Sun Times will be featuring a county elected official each week until the end of April. Since there are more officials than there are weeks, we've decided to feature some of those whose jobs and impact on the community aren't always at the forefront of news stories and public attention. This feature will run each Friday in April.
Cleburne County Judge Jerry Holmes has named April National County Government month in Cleburne County. Recently, he gave an update to the Heber Springs Rotary Club on the state of the county.
"One of the primary responsibilities of the Office of County Judge is maintaining approximately 1,100 miles of County Roads," said Holmes. "In 2013, our Road Department chip and sealed and overlaid 37 miles. In 2014, we completed 45.1 miles. In 2015, we completed 36 miles of roads plus laid 450 tons of asphalt to the Walking Trail; laid 270 tons of asphalt for the Heber Springs Cemetery Parking Lot; and one (1) mile of asphalt for the City of Greers Ferry. In 2016, we completed 32 miles plus laid 1,200 tons of asphalt at the Greers Ferry Ball Field; and graveled ½ mile at the Heber Springs Walking Trail. For 2017, 20 miles of chip and seal with 10 miles of asphalt are planned in addition to 15 miles of resealing and overlaying approximately 1,200 tons of asphalt for the City of Quitman. Since the Road Department’s budget was decreased for 2017, we will not be able to complete as much as we had hoped. Sales tax is down 4.2%, along with severance tax on natural tax."
Holmes discussed some of the challenges Cleburne faces, including a countywide litter problem, as well as the need for a new jail. Cleburne County was notified last year that its detention center was not in compliance with all federal and state regulations.
He also discussed a bright future for Cleburne, including the ongoing Water Garden project proposal, which would have a positive transformative effect on Cleburne and its economy.
"The Greers Ferry Lake Water Garden Project is progressing," said Holmes. "The University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) Design Center is currently preparing a feasibility study. Early results are positive. Additional information will be available with the completion and release of the feasibility study. Many good things are happening in Cleburne County."