Trash, fraudulent checks among topics discussed at Quorum Court meeting

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A solution to Drew County’s ongoing trash problem is on the horizon after the Drew County Quorum Court approved an ORDINANCE on Monday, June 13, at the regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Drew County, along with nine other Southeast Arkansas Counties belonging to the Southeast Arkansas Development District, will begin hauling their trash to a waste to electricity recycling center near Lake Village. Once the facility is completed it will be able to process 500 tons of household trash a day. The trash will be turned into gas that will then be used to heat water and produce steam to create energy.

The agreement with the counties will allow Drew and other counties to pay a locked in $45 per ton tipping fee, the amount will be locked in for 30 years with reviews of the rates every five years, according to Shane Knight, SEADD Deputy Director. As long as the rates still “work” the tipping fee will remain at $45. However, for every ton of garbage from Drew County, the county will receive $3.75 of unencumbered funds. Unencumbered funds are funds that can be spent in anyway the County chooses to use them. Once the facility is built it will be the first fully operational gasification plant in the United States.

Fraudulent checks are proving to be a problem for the County, as Drew County Treasurer Charlie Searcy, explained to the Court during the financial brief. While the checks, which were initially paid, were discovered and disputed in time for Drew County to recover the money from the bank, the checks presented did in fact contain Searcy’s signature, which seems to prove that at least one legitimate check was obtained and enabled the thieves to reuse the signature on the fraudulent checks. The banks have been notified, funds were returned and are being investigated. According to Searcy, this is an ongoing issue with banks and individuals, as well as other entities need to keep a close eye on their checks and checking accounts.

The Drew County Sheriff's Office is looking to upgrade their taser and body cameras by purchasing body cameras and tasers that will automatically activate the body camera worn by any officer who uses his taser as well as any body cameras worn by other deputies in the vicinity. A question of bids was raised during the discussion and the DCSO will do research on if this particular type of camera and taser is available through more than one company, if so, the purchase will have to be open to bidding before a purchase is made. The issue was postponed until July’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Cares Act funds were also approved in the amount of $40,000 each for the cities of Monticello, Tillar, Wilmar and Winchester, with another $10,000 each for the Fire Departments of Clear Creek, Collins/Comminto, Green Hill/Hidden Valley, Lacey/Ladelle, Monticello, Selma, Tillar, Wilmar and Winchester. The cities will be able to use the funds for infrastructure while the Fire Departments will be able to use the money fire department equipment, improvements and repairs.

The County also approved the go ahead for an engineer to assess the Court House and the HVAC system, which has been a need of the County’s for some time. The County will pay a $12,500 fee which can then be used as a credit if the County chooses to move forward with the project.

A run-off election for the constable for Marion Township will be held with early voting beginning Monday, June 20. While the Courthouse will be closed in observance of Juneteenth, the County Clerk’s office will be present with the poll workers to run the election. Although Josh Henley has withdrawn from the race, the run-off, by law, must still occur between David Menotti and Henley. If a citizen voted in the earlier election, they must have voted on the Republican ticket in order to vote in the run-off. If a citizen did not vote, they can vote in the run-off. If for any reason, Menotti is unable to win the run-off a constable would have to be appointed or a new election would have to be held.

County Clerk Nancy White also reminded the court that the Nov. 8 elections will determine the Drew County Sheriff, Monticello, Winchester and Tillar Mayor.

Judge Robert Akin also advised the court the County is building an additional parking lot in front of the jail in order to provide more parking for the courthouse. He also pointed out the new parking space will also help with parking for downtown events such as the annual Fair and Christmas parades.

The last item of discussion was a sample Ordinance Cliff Gibson sent to court members. The ordinance would address vicious dogs in the county. According to Gibson, the issue was brought to him by the deputy prosecution attorney. The members of the court will review the sample ordinance and discuss the possibility of the ordinance at the July regularly scheduled meeting.

Editor’s note: Due to time constraints, a more thorough explanation of the waste to energy plant will appear in next week's addition of the Advance Monticellonian.

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