BY VAL GAUGHT
An Ashley County Quorum court member said Tuesday that economic development is not the quorum court’s responsibility.
The discussion began a month ago when a county resident, Bruce Towe, asked the Quorum during its February meeting to consider hiring an economic developer or grant writer for the county. He spoke about the multiple grant opportunities and economic funds that are out there and he said he felt like Ashley County was missing out on funding because it didn’t have a person dedicated to looking and applying for those funds.
During this month’s meeting, Towe appeared before the Quorum again, asking if any thought had been put towards his suggestions.
Justice Ron Miller said he looked into some of the programs that were brought up in the previous discussion, one of them being the Opportunity Zone Project, which allows investors to reduce their capital gains. Miller said that he found that Crossett was on the list as an opportunity zone. However, Miller said that while there did appear to funding available, that he didn’t feel like it was the court’s job to manage that.
“I spent two or three hours looking into this, and then I looked at my job description,” Miller said. “It’s my job to oversee ordinance and county funds and I can even marry somebody, but one of our duties is not economic development,” he said.
Towe asked about the possibility of hiring a grant writer.
“But that’s not the county’s job,” Miller said. “We oversee the health and welfare of the citizens and the roads. There are economic developers in Crossett and in Hamburg.”
In other news:
-Justice Ronnie Wheeler requested that last month’s minutes be amended to reflect a typo regarding the ramp at the Economic Development office in Crossett, which is used as an early voting center during elections. The minutes said the ramp needed to be seven feet long to meet ADA guidelines, but Wheeler said the ramp needed an additional seven feet added on to the current ramp to meet ADA guidelines. The changes were made and minutes were approved as amended.
-The justices resumed an ongoing discussion about litter in the county.
Justice Ricky Simms said that the city of Monroe, La., has dumping sites where the public can dump trash and junk and the city picks it up and takes it the dump.
“We are going to have to pick it up anyway, we might as well have a designated spot,” Simms said.
The growing litter problem has been a hot topic at Quorum Court meetings for several months. Miller suggested that the court solid waste committee work on an ordinance so that the people dumping illegally could be punished.
Sheriff Tommy Sturgeon explained that there is already a state law that prohibits dumping and littering, but enforcing it is where the issue comes into play.
Justice Greg Sivils said that he didn’t think having a dumping site would solve the problem because people who are removing an old couch or bed from their home aren’t going to wait until a designated day to go and dump the item. Miller said that though not all would participate in the county’s designated dump day and site that it couldn’t hurt to try to cut back on the problem.
“It’s up to the judge to decide where we will pick up trash, but if he wants to come up with some type of a plan we can certainly go through the solid waste committee,” Wheeler said.
He also asked about cameras for high dumping areas that were discussed at the Quorum’s last meeting. One of the justices said the city of Parkdale pays for dumpsters people just dump around them and don’t actually put it in the dumpsters because they stay full.
County Judge Jim Hudson said it was a lot worse before they actually got those dumpsters. Hudson said that if anyone has suggestions or is interested in getting a site set up, he is willing to take suggestions and do whatever he can to eliminate the massive litter problem.
“People just need to give me a call, I’m willing to do whatever I can to put a stop to this,” Hudson said.
Hudson also said that a Girl Scout Troop in Hamburg picked up over 800 pounds of trash during a cleanup project they participated in recently.