BY VERSHAL HOGAN

MANAGING EDITOR

 

Members of the Hamburg Economic Development Team told the Ashley County Quorum Court that they want to use a county-owned building to house a health center for the eastern end of the county.

Economic Development Team members Inez Barnes and Leslie Foote appeared before the Court to discuss their plans to locate the health center in the old True Value Building next to the county equipment yard.

Barnes said the project is being done in collaboration with Ashley County Medical Center, which already has an exercise-based wellness center in Crossett. People in the eastern end of the county would use such a center in Hamburg if it was available, she said, including a number of ACMC employees who live in the area.

If the project can move forward, the HEDT will improve the building, which will need significant remodeling to serve the purpose, Barnes said. It will need ceilings installed, as well as walls in some places, and in some places mirrors will be installed similar to what one sees in gyms.

“Everybody can gain from this,” she said. “I think it is a good proposal, a fair use proposal.”

Barnes said the big holdup at the moment is that the HEDT is waiting for an opinion from the state attorney general’s office to make sure the arrangement between the group and county can be made. That’s why they were addressing the Quorum on Tuesday, she said.

“We are trying to clear the path just so that if it does go through, everybody will know what we are trying to do,” Barnes said.

Justice of the Peace Ron Miller said he thought the idea is a really good proposal.

“It has been my focus for two years, but every time I get it moving we have to stop,” Barnes said.

During the Court’s meeting, Justice Jeff Langley said the county is set to receive $3.8 million from the federal government in connection with the American Rescue Plan.

“It has a lot of stipulations that we all need to read so we know what we can do with it,” he said. 

County Judge Jim Hudson asked that members of the Court serve on a committee to keep track of the ways that the county can spend the money. After some short discussion about making sure that a representative from the delta region was included, Hudson appointed Justices Rhonda Pippen, Ricky Sims, Ronnie Wheeler, and Miller to the committee.

In other news:

-The justices voted to allow Circuit Clerk Vickie Stell to transfer $16,000 from her office’s automation fund so that the money could be used to repair record books in her office from the 1800s and early 1900s.

The books are in deteriorating condition and will fall apart soon if they are not repaired, Stell said.

-The Quorum adopted an ordinance that will allow it to obtain services from Huffman Machine Works, which Justice Greg Sivils owns.

Hudson said he was sorry to put Sivils in the position that required such an ordinance, but one of the county’s dump trucks requires special brass fittings that they cannot get anywhere else.

“They don’t even make this truck any more,” Hudson said. “He made us this part instead of us having to buy a new, (expensive) boom, and he won’t say it, but I will — he gave the county a discount.”

The ordinance specifies that the custom parts it orders from Sivils are to be ordered, “in limited circumstances where such parts are not reasonably available from other sources in or outside the county” and that “any Quorum Court member having any interest in the goods or services being considered under these procedures shall not be entitled to vote upon the approval of the goods or services.”

-The Quorum adopted an ordinance setting the rules of procedure for the Court. The ordinance not only sets a form for all meeting agendas and a time for regular meetings — it will remain 2:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month — but also dictates that the Court will abide by Robert’s Rules of Order, among other things.

The ordinance likewise defines the procedure for items to be placed on the Court’s agenda and the operations of its standing committees.

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