The Cleburne County Quorum Court meeting quickly devolved into a yelling match Thursday evening. Animocity was frequent during the two and a half hour meeting.
Court members were given a letter received the day of the meeting from Survival Flight withdrawing a proposed agreement that included funding to help the for-profit company provide more life support services throughout the rural areas of the county. Additionally, justices of the peace verbally sparred over social media posts and side meetings.
A proposed ordinance crafted by Justices of the Peace Jacque Martin and Sean Blackburn called for funding voluntary non-profit fire departments and/or voluntary emergency medical service agencies throughout the county. The ordinance calls for funding such an effort with $200,000 per year for five years. It would require al voluntary non-profit fire departments and/or voluntary emergency medical service agencies that provide any level of EMS services will select one representative from each department. The total number of representatives will then elect five individuals to form the “Cleburne County Volunteer Fire / EMS Growth and Sustainment Committee.”
This committee would report to the quorum court in a regularly scheduled meeting to present the monetary needs of departments selected for funding. Proposed EMS expenses would be submitted by each EMS agency and listed individually with the estimated cost itemized for each proposed article or expense. Expenses may include but are not limited to: vehicles, training, medical supplies/equipment, etc.
The committee would be encouraged to always favor allocating funds that create any type of voluntary ALS coverage as a priority. Any organization that receives funds for the purposes of this ordinance, would have the ability to file a claim on any individual’s insurance policy and agree to accept that amount which the insurance company considers reasonable and customary for said claim as payment in full. If the individual does not have insurance coverage for said services, then the organization shall have the ability to bill the individual for said services. It is understood that the individual will not be billed for any amount that exceeds what the insurance companies consider reasonable and customary for said services.
No organization that receives funds through the ordinance would able to file a lien on any individual’s insurance policy or personal property. Such action would result in the organization’s removal of eligibility to receive any further funds provided by the ordinance.
In other county business, the quorum court met in executive session to interview the candidates for acting county judge. It was decided Carl Martin will serve out the remainder of Judge Jerry Holmes’ administration until Dec. 31. Holmes recently announced his last day in office will be Sept. 30.
The court passed several appropriation ordinances. The court appropriated funds $14,725 to the jail improvement fund to settle up the county’s account with Benchmark Construction Corporation, $8,100 to the accounting and administration fund to pay for the legislative audit which was automatically triggered since the county received more than $750,000 in federal CARES ACT funding and appropriated $250,000 into the newly established HVAC Grant fund.
In other county business, the quorum court also approved a resolution allowing Mayfield Engineering Company to participate in the state’s tax back program through the Arkansas Department of Economic Development. The company has expanded production capacity through transfer of business from the MEC-Wisconsin facility to the Heber Springs location.
Justice of the Peace Roger Pearson read a resolution declaring Cleburne County to be a pro-life county. The resolution reads:
WHEREAS, the Declaration of Independence declares that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including the right to life; and
WHEREAS, Amendment 68 to the Arkansas Constitution states that the policy of the State of Arkansas is to protect the life of every unborn child from conception until birth; and
WHEREAS, it is the duty of state and local governments to protect the unalienable right to life of every person within their respective jurisdictions; and
WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court stated in Poelker v. Doe, 432 U.S. 519 (1977), that the United States Constitution does not forbid a municipality, pursuant to democratic processes, from expressing a preference for normal childbirth instead of abortion.
Therefore, let it be resolved that it be the policy of Cleburne County, Arkansas, to promote and protect the dignity and humanity of all persons, at all stages of life from conception until natural death, and that Cleburne County, Arkansas, declares itself to be a Pro-Life County.
The resolution received enthusiastic applause from gallery.
Last month, the county announced it received a grant for another automated external defibrillator (AED), and five volunteers were trained in CPR and usage of an AED. The county now has an AED in the Courthouse, Library, and Annex building. The county also = announced they have been working with Verizon and Computer Works through the Arkansas Rural Connect Program, and they were awarded $3,520,447 to build infrastructure on Broadband in the Tumbling Shoals, Wilburn, Quitman and Pangburn areas. There will still be some areas that are not covered, but it is starting a building ground for progress.