Quorum Court discusses broadband funding


The Drew County Quorum Court held its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 10. The meeting opened with County Attorney Cliff Gibson leading an invocation and County Judge Jessie Griffin leading everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance. The meeting agenda was approved after adding two items to the Judge’s Comments section. The court members then approved the minutes from last month’s meeting.

County Treasurer Charlie Searcy gave his report next. Searcy noted that the County General Fund and the ARP Fund had been combined. Without any sales tax collection added in, County General currently shows a balance of negative $1,335,000. The Sales Tax fund currently has a balance of $840,000. The Circuit Clerk Cost Fund has negative $60,000 and the Emergency Management Fund has $39,000. The Sanitation Fund is currently at a negative $48,000 compared to the negative $102,000 balance this time last year. Total funds that operate through County General are currently negative $549,000 compared to being negative $1,040,000 last year. Searcy said that the biggest difference was the courthouse repairs and using the $880,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to offset the cost, leaving $9,700 in ARPA funds which will also be moved to County General. Searcy said that with all of the addbacks applied, County General is negative $297,638.65 compared to being negative $779,029.85 last year. Searcy added that the Quarter Cent Sales Tax fund has a balance of $5.8 million and the General Excess Fund has a balance of $1.2 million.

Judge Griffin made his comments following Searcy’s report.

He opened by presenting newly crowned Pre-Teen Little Miss Arkansas Arabella Wood with a letter congratulating her on her achievement and promising the county’s support as she travels the state as an ambassador of Drew County.

Judge Griffin continued by noting that there is a lot of work going on at the courthouse. He said that new exit signs are going up in the building. The stairwell marble is being repaired on the bottom floor. He also noted that the courtroom will be closed for two weeks to allow crews to come in and paint the walls.

Judge Griffin provided an update on a state bid regarding paving work that was set to be performed on some of the county’s roads. The contractor was dismissed by the state, and the state will now have to start the bidding process again. Judge Griffin said that the county will continue to repair the roads as best they can.

Griffin closed out his comments by stating that Road Department Superintendent Mike McManus has announced that he will retire at the end of the month. The county has begun to advertise and is also seeking internal candidates to fill the opening.

In new business, Judge Griffin stated that the county has submitted all paperwork pertaining to the findings of the 2022 Audit.

The court was then presented with Resolution No. 2024-01 which would support C&L Broadband Connect’s Bead Funding application. Judge Griffin stated that the county’s Broadband Committee met last Thursday, and at that time C&L was the only company that had approached them.

David Vondran from C&L appeared before the court to update everyone on what was happening with this project. He stated that there is currently work being done in Montongo, Wilmar, Lacey, Winchester, and Selma. They are working to build a “fiber backbone” to connect all of their substations. This will allow them to reconnect power more easily and faster during outages. This is an 18-month, $14 million project. Once completed, C&L can then begin to branch fiber out to homes for internet connectivity. During the 18-month window, C&L will be applying for grant money and hope to have totals by the time the backbone is complete. The court voted to adopt the resolution.

The court voted to adjourn until the next meeting in July.