Spring 2015 County Lines

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The Official Publication of the Association of Arkansas Counties

County Lines SPRING 2015

State Auditor’s roots are in Pope County

Change Maker

County Treasurer




makes a Capitol move

is AAC Board president

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In This Issue


State Auditor’s roots in county government.




AAC Board honors Bear Chaney for service............................................................... 8 Columbia County Clerk’s office receives award......................................................11 Arkansas County has history of dual seats..............................................................26

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Inside Look

State Treasurer was a change maker while Saline County circuit clerk.

Sheriffs, jail administrators review legislation........................................................41 AAC Safety Conference draws 73..............................................................................42 Quorum Court Association holds annual meeting..................................................43 Collectors discuss counterfeit money.......................................................................44


Assessors gather in North Little Rock.......................................................................45 County Clerks visit state Capitol during session.....................................................46 State


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Circuit Clerks get a taste of state processes...........................................................48 Judges host governor during winter meeting..........................................................50 AAC staff profile: Riley Groover..................................................................................52

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Departments From the Director’s Desk............................................................................................... 7



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Judy Beth Hutcherson soars to top seat on AAC board.



President›s Perspective................................................................................................. 9 Attorney General Opinions..........................................................................................11 Legal Corner...................................................................................................................12 From the Governor........................................................................................................13 County Law Update.......................................................................................................14 Savings Times 2............................................................................................................15 Research Corner...........................................................................................................16 Legislative Lines............................................................................................................20 Seems to Me..................................................................................................................22


Cover Notes: Zinnia Mania (Photo by Christy L. Smith) he National Weather Service (NWS) reported that this spring was the wettest spring on record since 1968, when 31.7 inches of rain fell. In fact, 34.63 inches of rain drenched the state from March 1 to May 31, 2015, causing flooding in several counties. But the rains also provide much-needed moisture for the flora across the state. In April, Frank Cusmano, a member of the state Capitol Facilities ground crew, could be seen planting zinnias and sunflowers in the promenade in front of the Capitol building. Their bright pinks and yellows lend a cheerful welcome to those who visit the Capitol grounds.


No man can taste the fruits of the autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of spring.

— Samuel Johnson





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July 13-15 County Clerks Lake DeGray, Bismark

Oct. 14-16 Circuit Clerks Wyndham, North Little Rock

July 26-29 Sheriffs Arlington Hotel, Hot Springs

Oct. 21-23 Treasurers Lake DeGray, Bismark

Aug. 5-7 AAC Annual Conference Holiday Inn, Springdale

Oct. 27-30 Assessors Arlington Hotel, Hot Springs

Sept. 23-25 County Clerks Mount Magazine Sept. 30-Oct 2 Judges Wyndham, North Little Rock


Association of Arkansas Counties 1415 West Third Street

Calendar activities also are posted on our Web site:


Brenda Emerson, ACE Program Coordinator bemerson@arcounties.org

Mark Whitmore, Chief Legal Counsel mwhitmore@arcounties.org

Josh Curtis, Government Affairs Director jcurtis@arcounties.org

Scott Perkins, Legislative/Communications Director sperkins@arcounties.org

Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 372-7550 phone (501) 372-0611 fax www.arcounties.org

Lindsey Bailey, Legal Counsel lbailey@arcounties.org

Cindy Posey, Accountant cposey@arcounties.org

Chris Villines, Executive Director cvillines@arcounties.org

Jeanne Hunt, Executive Assistant


Christy L. Smith, Communications Coordinator


Whitney Barket, Secretary / Receptionist wbarket@arcounties.org

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Mission Statement: The Association of Arkansas Counties


he Association of Arkansas Counties supports and promotes the idea that all elected officials must have the opportunity to act together in order to solve mutual problems as a unified group. To further this goal, the Association of Arkansas Counties is committed to providing a single source of cooperative support and information for all counties and county and district officials. The overall purpose of the Association of Arkansas Counties is to work for the improvement of county government in the state of Arkansas. The Association accomplishes this purpose by providing legislative representation, on-site assistance, general research, training, various publications and conferences to assist county officials in carrying out the duties and responsibilities of their office.

Risk Management / Workers’ Compensation Debbie Norman, Risk Management & Insurance Director, Risk Mgmt Services dnorman@aacrms.com Debbie Lakey, Workers’ Comp Claims Manager dlakey@aacrms.com Cathy Perry, Administrative Assist./Claims Analyst cperry@aacrms.com Kim Nash, Workers Comp Claims Adjuster knash@aacrms.com Renee Turner, Workers Comp Claims Examiner rturner@aacrms.com Riley Groover, Workers Comp Claims Analyst rgroover@aacrms.com Kim Mitchell, Administrative Assistant kmitchell@aacrms.com Brandy McAllister, RMS Counsel bmcallister@arcounties.org Becky Comet, Member Benefits Manager bcomet@arcounties.org Barry Burkett, Loss Control Specialist bburkett@aacrms.com Amber Krum, Administrative Assistant akrum@aacrms.com Elizabeth Sullivan, Admin. Assistant/Receptionist esullivan@arcounties.org




Family & Friends

County Lines Magazine

County Lines is the official publication of the Association of Arkansas Counties. It is published quarterly. For advertising inquiries, subscriptions or other information relating to the magazine, please contact Christy L. Smith or Scott Perkins at 501.372.7550. Executive Director / Publisher Chris Villines Communications Director/ Managing Editor Scott Perkins Communications coordinator/ Editor Christy L. Smith

AAC Executive Board: Judy Beth Hutcherson – President Debbie Wise – Vice President Joe Gillenwater – Secretary-Treasurer Sherry Bell Debra Buckner Cindy Walker Brandon Ellison Andrea Billingsley Jimmy Hart John Montgomery Patrick Moore Rhonda Cole Sandra Cawyer David Thompson Bill Hollenbeck Will Jones Debbie Cross National Association of Counties (NACo) Board Affiliations Judy Beth Hutcherson: NACo board member. She is the Clark County Treasurer and president of the AAC Board of Directors.

Debbie Wise: NACo board member. She is the Randolph County Circuit Clerk, vice president of the AAC Board of Directors and chair of AAC’s Legislative Committee.

Ted Harden: Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Steering Committee. He serves on the Jefferson County Quorum Court.

David Hudson: Vice Chair of NACo’s Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is the Sebastian County Judge and member of the Rural Action Caucus Steering Committee.

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Sorrow allows us to appreciate life’s joys

Director’s Desk


Chris Villines hen my son and I left the office on AAC April 18 following the annual SatExecutive Director urday 75-member Quorum Court meeting I entertained no thoughts that it would be the last time I saw him. There were no indications given to anyone in his circle, no notions of inner struggle and no words exchanged that his end with us was near. For reasons I cannot understand I lost a good friend and a hard-working, capable employee that evening. Just about everyone I know in this life knew Jonathan Greer — my family, my friends, my co-workers and my partners in county and state government. All of us find some comfort in knowing that no indications were given, and instead of this being a loss that we could have or should have intervened to prevent there are instead only the memories of our times with Jonathan being upbeat and full of life. His legacy looms large in this world, and it includes a beautiful 4-year-old son, Charlie Gage. I didn’t know Jonathan in his youth, but if I think hard about what he was like, well, Charlie Gage is pretty spot-on. I first met Jonathan when he joined the AAC in 2002, a young and eager attorney ready to light the world on fire. I have always been tied closely to the AAC, have enjoyed the work this group does and appreciated the professionalism shown here from the moment I took office in Saline County in 1999. Though Jonathan wasn’t working with the tax collectors at that time I always stopped by his office when I came to the AAC to relish in his humor and zest for life. I learned quickly that Jonathan was one syllable too many for his friends, and we all referred to him as JG. Stories came easy to JG, and he spun tales that resided in the gray area that lies between truth and fancy, an art lost in our fast paced world but deeply rooted from his upbringing in Star City. Though only a year his senior, I always thought of JG as a much younger brother, possibly from his wide and mischievous grin. Couple this with a general demeanor and excitement of someone 10 years younger than his real age. It was while working in Saline County and serving on the AAC board in 2007 that I performed what could be referred to as a slight act of mutiny by mentioning him to Saline County Judge Lanny Fite when an opening occurred in the Saline County Attorney’s position. Judge (now Representative) Fite and JG became quick friends and some of the best career memories I take with me are impromptu meetings and lunches with JG, Jim Crawford, Lynn Hart and Judge Fite during my time in Saline County. Matriculating through county government suited JG fine, and those things that can only be learned by boots-on-the-ground legal practice molded him into a skillful and pragmatic attorney. While I’d like to say I played a role in his moving to Saline County, in all





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likelihood it was the proximity to Oaklawn Park that sealed the deal. An avid racehorse fan, I suspect he helped guide American Pharoah down the stretch in the Belmont from his lofty perch. When the job of executive director was offered to me here, I called my wife. Second on the list was JG. I knew he enjoyed his job, and I certainly didn’t want to interrupt his learning process in Saline County. Regardless, I offered him a position at the AAC down the road when the time was right for him. Allegiance ran deep in his veins, and he would not leave until Judge Fite was ready to retire — an appreciated sentiment for me because he and I both shared admiration and respect for our county judge. JG embodied a characteristic of loyalty that I value, another lost art in today’s society. In time, Judge Fite announced his retirement and the die was cast for JG’s return to AAC. He returned in spring 2014 to work with circuit clerks, assessors, collectors and quorum courts. He was as excited and happy as I have ever seen him in this role and enjoyed working with these groups immensely. As county elected officials, a big part of your jobs is hiring good people who will fit the culture of your organization and management style. If ever there was a good fit, JG was it. He immediately hit the ground running and artfully worked with these groups, bringing Lindsey Bailey in as a dynamic duo on our policy team. He reconnected immediately with friends from the AAC. He had more surrogate mothers around here than I care to mention, with Jeanne Hunt and Brenda Emerson working non-stop to keep him in line and focused. Much has been learned through this process … by me, the staff and all of you. I have learned to value my friendships more. I have learned that grief of this magnitude comes with

many dynamics. I have learned again how important it is to be right with God, and I find great comfort in knowing that JG was — and that we will be reunited. And I have learned that real men are not afraid to hug. In fact, real men should be ashamed not to. The outpouring from around the state during this loss has been tremendous. An unbelievable number of people have phoned, written and prayed for the county government family. I am humbled by the expressions of love from all corners and amazed by how many people this fine man touched. At times we will all remember this grief, but I am reminded that sorrow is but a part of life’s process, and only through it do we have perspective to appreciate joy. JG will live on through his legacy here and through his son Charlie Gage. I ask that the counties of Arkansas continue to lift his wife, Karen, and Charlie Gage in prayer. This is not an easy time for any of us, but I can easily imagine JG urging us to keep our chins up and run the race. We will have several ways to honor him, but I want to remind you all that his family has set up a memorial account for Charlie Gage. Memorials can be made to: Charlie Gage Greer College Fund, in care of Morgan Stanley, 2200 N. Rodney Parham, Suite 100, Little Rock, AR 72212. I close by saying that the AAC and county family is very dear to me, as it was to Jonathan. Many people will walk in and out of our lives over time, and times like these remind us just how valuable people are and how fragile human life is. I encourage you all to reach out to those around you, to let those who expect our love the least to know just how much you do love them. You never know when it may be the last time you see them. Rest in Peace dear friend.

AAC board honors Chaney for service

Members of the AAC Board of Directors honored Glenn “Bear” Chaney at their April meeting. The former Benton County assessor and former AAC board member was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to serve as director of the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Department. Chaney has more than 30 years of experience in the real estate field, working for three different assessors’ offices and owning his own appraisal business. He was elected Benton County assessor in November 2010 and appointed to the AAC board of directors in June 2013. His fellow board members had elected him to serve as secretary/treasurer on the AAC board immediately prior to the governor’s announcement. Columbia County Assessor Sandra Cawyer has replaced Chaney on the AAC board, and Miller County Justice of the Peace Joe Gillenwater was elected to replace Chaney as board secretary/treasurer. AAC board President and Clark County Treasurer Judy Beth Hutcherson and AAC Executive Director Chris Villines presented Chaney with a plaque at the April board meeting. 8



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A ‘hello’ from new board president


his is my first opportunity to participate in County Lines magazine as the president of the Association of Arkansas Counties board of directors. I’m excited to serve in this capacity for so many wonderful public servants. I was sworn in on February 11. I have seen this organization grow and prosper in the last 18 years, and I have been blessed with countless friendships across the state. I’m honored to be here and look forward to helping AAC continue to be the valuable association it is for county officials. Arkansas is also blessed with hard working county officials in all 75 counties in this state. Most days, they find themselves on the front lines in various communities serving the people and carrying out the state’s business. It’s not as easy as we make it look and we have help. I’ve found the AAC family to be passionate about public service and always willing to assist elected officials whether it is about legal questions, continuing education or advocating for county government at the Capitol. We certainly want to continue that and build on it. So, I first want to ask you to share your thoughts and experiences with me. If you have ideas or comments concerning AAC, do not hesitate to contact me. My e-mail is judy@clarkcountyarkansas.com. The 90th Arkansas General Assembly has completed its regular session and an extraordinary special session. I would say counties fared well; however, our advocacy effort should be continuous. All county officials have a stake in that effort. The more of us who educate and communicate with our constituents and legislators,

President’s Perspective

the better off we will be. And the better our public service can become. So get out there and share the county story with your communities. If you have not had a sit down with all your representatives and senators, I strongly encourage you to. You will find this very helpful and educational. I became the Clark County Treasurer in 1997 and have seen a lot of changes in state and county governJudy Beth Hutcherson ment. I’ve also learned that change is AAC Board President; the only constant. Clark County Treasurer I certainly don’t expect that to change. All kidding aside, our role as county elected officials is a dynamic and ever-changing one. We must work on it everyday. I’m looking forward to working with all you as we aim to make county government the best it can be for the people of Arkansas.

Judy Beth Hutcherson

Judy Beth Hutcherson Clark County Treasurer / AAC Board President

AAC hosts legislative wrap up

Following each regular session of the Arkansas General Assembly, AAC invites county elected officials from across the state to Little Rock for a legislative review. During this year’s day-long meeting, held Friday, May 29, 2015, AAC board members, staffers, consultants and others went over new legislation that will affect each office — assessors, circuit clerks, county clerks, coroners, collectors, treasurers, sheriffs, judges and justices of the peace. In this photo, AAC Legislative Chairman and Randolph County Circuit Clerk Debbie Wise discusses some of the new laws as AAC Communications Director Scott Perkins navigates the General Assembly’s web site and AAC Consultant Eddie Jones looks on. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015


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AG Opinions: From the ethics act to trade in of used equipment AG OPINION NO. 2014-134

The Attorney General commented on Amendment 94 to the Arkansas Constitution, which is entitled “The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency, and Financial Reform Amendment.” More specifically, Section 3 amends Section 2 of Amendment 73 to the Arkansas Constitution so that beginning Nov. 5, 2014, a member of the Arkansas General Assembly may serve up to 16 years in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, or a combination of both. The AG stated that years served in the General Assembly prior to the passage of Amendment 94 count toward the cumulative limit of 16 years now imposed under Amendment 73. The AG also determined that two-year terms served as a result of an apportionment of the Senate and partial legislative terms served as a result of a special election under Article 5, Section 6 of the Arkansas Constitution are not included in calculating total number of years served by a member of the General Assembly.

AG OPINION NO. 2014-137

The AG discusses how the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) applies to data stored on the disaster recovery system (DRS) in Opinion No. 2014-137. The AG opined that pursuant to ACA 2519-103(5)(A), deleted emails of public officials or employees are considered “not

otherwise kept” even if they exist on a DRS and are not required to be produced under the FOIA. {HB 1874 sponsored by Rep. Bob Johnson, Act 881 of 2015, makes the law explicit that deleted emails that are temporarily within a DRS are not kept or maintained and therefore not subject to the FOIA}.

AG OPINION NO. 2015-006

The AG discussed whether a city may use city general funds to pay for water and sewer upgrades to the city system that includes customers inside and outside city limits. The AG concluded that some basic principles come into play when addressing the matter of funding the cost of serving those inside and outside city limits. The AG stated that the law generally contemplates that the rates for resident and nonresident consumers of a municipal waterworks or sewer system will be sufficient to pay for installing and maintaining the system. However, a city may use general revenues for funding the city water or sewer system regardless of whether the improvements will benefit customers inside or outside the city limits.

AG OPINION NO. 2014-092

The AG was asked whether a trade in of used county equipment is permissible (as consideration supporting either an installment purchase of used replacement equipment or a lease of equipment) without

AG Opinions

receiving bids for the sale of the equipment under ACA 14-16-105. The AG noted that chapter 22 on the sale of counMark Whitmore ty property AAC Chief Counsel (ACA 14-22101 and 106) controls in instances that county property is sold as part of a trade in. ACA 14-16-105 involves the sale of county property generally that focuses primarily on straightforward sales of county property, not a trade in. The AG stated that when a county disposes of property by trade in it clearly owns in connection with either a lease or the purchase of used property, ACA 14-22-106 will control and that bids should not be taken by the county for the traded in property. A purchase of equipment by a county for or in excess of $20,000 is subject to competitive bidding. {SB 319 sponsored by Rep. Bruce Maloch, Act 561 of 2015, amends the definition of used or secondhand motor vehicles, equipment and machinery from two years to one year, from 10,000 miles to 5,000 miles and from 500 working hours to 250 working hours}.

Columbia County Clerk’s Office receives Public Servant of the Year award

The Magnolia-Columbia County Chamber of Commerce recently recognized the Columbia County Clerk’s office for its dedication to public service. During its 76th annual Membership Banquet, held March 12 in Peace Hall at First United Methodist Church in Magnolia, the Chamber honored the clerk’s office with its 2014 Public Servant of the Year award. There to receive the award were (from left to right) Deputy Clerks Kay McWilliams and Glenda Atkinson, County Clerk Sherry Bell, Tammy Wiltz, Lynsandra Curry and Phyllis Disotell. Not pictured is Barbara Smith. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015



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U.S. Supreme Court: inmate has religious freedom to grow beard


n an important decision that could affect county jail inmate grooming policies, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in December 2014 that an Arkansas Department of Correction (DOC) prison inmate’s religious beliefs were violated by DOC’s policy that would not allow an inmate to grow a beard as required by his religion. The case, Holt v. Hobbs, 574 U.S. ____ (2015), was filed by Arkansas inmate Gregory Holt, a practicing Muslim also known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad, who alleged that the DOC’s grooming policy, which prohibits inmates from growing beards unless they have a particular dermatological condition, violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA). The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, reversed the decision of the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and held that DOC’s grooming policy violated RLUIPA insofar as it prevents an inmate from growing a halfinch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs. Holt objected on religious grounds to DOC’s grooming policy which provided that “[n]o inmates will be permitted to wear facial hair other than a neatly trimmed mustache that does not extend beyond the corner of the mouth or over the lip.” The policy made no exception for inmates who objected on religious grounds but did contain an exemption for prisoners with medical needs: “Medical staff may prescribe that inmates with a diagnosed dermatological problem may wear facial hair no longer than one quarter of an inch.” The policy provided, “[f ]ailure to abide by [the Department’s] grooming standards is grounds for disciplinary action.” Holt asked for permission to grow a beard and, although he believed that his faith required him not to trim his beard at all, he proposed a “compromise” under which he would grow only a half-inch beard. DOC denied his request. Holt then filed a pro se complaint in Federal District Court challenging the grooming policy under RLUIPA. The complaint was dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The Magistrate Judge emphasized in his opinion that “the prison officials are entitled to deference” and that the grooming policy allowed the inmate Holt to exercise his religion in other ways including praying on a prayer rug, maintaining the diet required by his faith, and observing religious holidays. The District Court adopted the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation and the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed holding that the DOC had satisfied its burden showing that the grooming policy was the least restrictive means of furthering its compelling security interests. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision. RLUIPA protects “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief” and a prisoner’s request for an accommodation must be sincerely based on a religious belief and not some other motivation. Holt’s request to exercise his religion was for the growing of a beard that he believes is a dictate of his faith. In addition to showing that his exercise of religion was related to a sincerely held religious belief, petitioner Holt also had the burden under RLUIPA of establishing that DOC’s grooming policy substantially burdened that exercise of religion. The Court stated that the petitioner had met that burden, thus shifting the burden of proof to DOC to show that its refusal to allow petitioner to grow a half-inch beard “(1) was in furtherance of a compelling 12

Legal Corner

governmental interest; and (2) was the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” DOC argued that the grooming policy represented the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling interest in prison safety and security. DOC claims that safety and security were furthered by its policy in two speJONATHAN GREER cific ways. The first claim by DOC was that the no-beard policy prevents prisGeneral Counsel oners from hiding contraband. DOC made the argument that prisoners may use their beards to conceal all manner of prohibited items, including razors, needles, drugs and cell phone SIM cards. The Court disagreed with that argument, noting that the DOC did not demand that inmates have shaved heads or short crew cuts as they did beards and also that forbidding short beards was not the least restrictive means of preventing the concealment of contraband. The Court stated that DOC could satisfy its security concerns by simply searching inmates’ beards as they already conduct searches of prisoners’ hair and clothing. DOC’s second claim was that its grooming policy would prevent prisoners from disguising their identities. While the Court agreed that prisons have a compelling interest in the quick and reliable identification of prisoners, the Court disagreed that the no-beards policy furthered that interest by the fact that DOC already has a policy of photographing a prisoner both when he enters the prison and when his “appearance changes at any time during his incarceration,” which would aid in identification. Finally, the Court emphasized that although RLUIPA provides substantial protection for the religious exercise of institutionalized person, it also affords jail officials the ability to maintain security in three (3) key ways: •

In applying the RLUIPA standard, courts should not blind themselves to the fact that the analysis is conducted in the prison setting;

If an institution suspects that an inmate is using religious activity to cloak illegal activity, “prison officials may appropriately question whether a prisoner’s religiosity, asserted as the basis for a requested accommodation, is authentic.”; and

Even if a claimant’s religious belief is sincere, an institution might be entitled to withdraw an accommodation if the claimant abuses the exemption in a manner that undermines the prison’s compelling interests.

County sheriffs and jail administrators should remain cognizant of these issues when formulating any policies potentially affecting the exercise of religious beliefs of inmates. Editor’s Note: AAC Legal Counsel Jonathan Greer passed away April 18, 2015. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015


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Selling Arkansas to the world

The governor delivered the following radio address before leaaving for Europe in June:


few weeks ago, I was in Silicon Valley in California. Last week, I was in Newport and Batesville. Saturday, I leave for Paris and Germany. The locations change but the business remains the same — economic development for Arkansas. Jobs. In 2015, we have to be a national and global competitor. And to compete on a national and global level, we have to market Arkansas at every opportunity. That means being there. Our work doesn’t end at the state’s borders. So next week, a team from the Governor’s office, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and other partners will attend the Paris Air Trade Show and the METEC trade fair that focuses on steel technology in Dusseldorf, Germany. I’ll be the first Arkansas Governor to attend both of these major international trade shows. This is a reflection of the way we have to do business — and attract business — in the 21st Century. Our objective at both places is the same: to meet with prospective companies and with existing, foreign-owned companies in Arkansas to further develop relationships for potential expansions. Arkansas has strong business ties to both countries. There are 24 German-owned companies with 39 locations accounting for more than 1,700 jobs here in the Natural State. We are also home to 12 French-owned companies with 25 locations and some 3,700 employees. Most folks know about Arkansas’s growing aerospace industry and connection to France through Dassault Falcon.

From The

But did you realize that Arkansas Governor is becoming a national leader in the steel industry? Mississippi County is one of the largest steelproducing counties in America, and job growth in the steel industry in Arkansas has increased by some 40 percent over just the last five years. At the trade fair in Germany, we’ll meet with steel-technology companies from all over the world. We’ll get the word out about Arkansas and steel. Hon. ASA On this business trip, as on any HuTCHINSON other, we’re marketing Arkansas. Governor of Arkansas We’re sowing seeds and competing for future business and jobs. The connections we make next week could pay dividends down the road for years to come. I won’t be the only Governor of a state in France and Germany next week. At least five other governors are expected at the trade shows. But our presence puts us in the best possible position to compete. And while I won’t be the only governor there, I will be the only Governor there from Arkansas. Which means I’ll be the only Governor who can tell Arkansas’s unique story. I’d say that puts us at an advantage before I even step on the plane.

Asa Hutchinson

The Honorable Asa Hutchinson Governor of Arkansas

Arkansas State Capitol SNAPSHOTS

Only rudimentary landscaping surrounded the state Capitol when it was declared complete on January 1, 1915. Over the decades, state officials, groundskeepers and volunteers have added many trees and other plantings. Native species are prominent among the plantings, but there are some exotic ornamentals, as well. Today more than 30 species of trees are on site, including the Japanese Magnolia (left) and the Purpleleaf Plum. In the later days of winter, the Capitol’s front façade becomes framed with the goblet-shaped flower of the Japanese Magnolia. The trees are laden with showy white blooms edged with pink and purple hues. The rich dark hues of the Purpleleaf Plum give a striking contrast against the white limestone of the state Capitol. These pink and white blooms emerge in early spring; the tree ends its growing season with a bounty of small, reddish fruit in the late summer. — Information from Arkansas Secretary of State




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How to answer an FOIA request for personnel records


ounty personnel records are open to public inspection, except to the extent that release would constitute a “a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” of the employee. ACA 25-19-105(b)(12)

How to Determine What to Release: When you receive an FOIA request for personnel records, the files need to be reviewed by the custodian and the affected employee within 24 hours, redacted as required by the law, and released within 72 hours in accord with the requirements of Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act (and related Attorney General Opinions). If a dispute arises between the custodian and the employee regarding what is or is not “private,” then the part not in dispute should be released within 72 hours and the part in dispute should be submitted to the Attorney General for an opinion. Any needed AG Opinion should be sought within 72 hours. Employee Notification: ACA 25-19-105(c)(3) sets out the procedures for notifying an employee when his/her records have been requested. Specifically: “Upon receiving a request for the examination or copying of personnel or evaluation records, the custodian of the records shall determine within 24 hours of the receipt of the request whether the records are exempt from disclosure and make efforts to the fullest extent possible to notify the person making the request and the subject of the records of that decision. If the subject of the records cannot be contacted in person or by telephone within the 24-hour period, the custodian shall send written notice via overnight mail to the subject of the records at his or her last known address.” The “Privacy” Exception: The FOIA does not list the personnel record information that would be within the scope of “personal privacy” (and that therefore is not to be disclosed). If a refusal to disclose is challenged, the court will weigh the “public’s right to knowledge of the records ... against an individual’s right to privacy.” See Young v. Rice, 308 Ark. 593, 826 S.W.2d 252 (1992). Arkansas AG Opinions (e.g., AG Ops. 2002-085, 2001169, 2001-101, and 2000-168) have determined that exempt information includes, among other things: • Personal histories • Financial records • Religious affiliation • Insurance coverage • Family information • Alcohol use • Social Security numbers

• Legitimacy of children • Citizenship • Medical records • Marital status • Payroll deducations • Welfare payments • Home addresses of law enforcement officers

The “Job Performance and Evaluation Record” Exception: The FOIA distinguishes between “personnel records” and “job performance and evaluation records.” Job performance and evaluation records are not automatically considered personnel records and are not evaluated under the same balancing test. Instead, ACA 25-19105(c) (1) & (2) provide: “Notwithstanding subdivision (b)(12) 14

County Law Update

of this section, all employee evaluation or job performance records, including preliminary notes and other materials, shall be open to public inspection only upon final administrative resolution of any suspension or termination proceeding at which the records form a basis for the decision to suspend or terminate the employee and if there is a compelling public interest in their Mike Rainwater disclosure. Any personnel or evaluaRisk Management tion records exempt from disclosure, Legal Counsel under this chapter shall nonetheless be made available to the person about whom the records are maintained or to that person’s designated representative.” Thus, an employee’s job performance and evaluation records are exempt from “personnel records” disclosure unless: 1) there is a final administrative resolution on an employee’s termination and/or suspension, 2) the job performance or evaluation records formed a basis for the employee’s termination or suspension, and 3) there is a compelling public interest in disclosing the records. (AG Opinion 2001-001) Redact What is “Private” or Non-Release-able “Personnel Record”: Information that would cause a “clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy” or that is an employee’s job performance and evaluation record that is not yet a “personnel record” is to be redacted. “Redaction” is the process of blotting out or removing the parts of the documents that are private or non-release-able. When only part of a document is not subject to release, blot out the “private” part by applying Post-it Labeling and Correction Tape and making a photocopy of the redacted version. If an entire document is “private” or non-release-able then redact the whole page, leaving the title of the document for view — producing a page that has some identifying information on it (if possible) but otherwise entirely redacted, making it clear that a whole page was redacted. If a redacted page is left completely blank, include the blank page. All parts not released should be saved in case judicial review is required. Employee Participation: The affected employee should review the redacted version of his own personnel records file. If the “records custodian” and the employee disagree about what is and what is not “private” or non-release-able, then an AG Opinion can be obtained, as provided for in the FOI Act. Attorney General Opinion / Judicial Review: ACA 25-19105(c) provides: “Either the custodian, requester, or the subject of the records may immediately seek an opinion from the Attorney General who shall, within three (3) working days of ... the request shall issue an opinion stating whether the decision is consistent with this chapter. In the event of a review by the Attorney General, the custodian shall not disclose the records until the Attorney General has issued his or her opinion. However, nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent the requester or the subject of See

“FOIA” on

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Anchors “a-weigh”! We’re cruisin’ into a healthy summer


t was a long, cold winter. Most people find that winter weather makes it difficult to stick with an exercise routine. Meanwhile, since we are cooped up in our homes, it is so easy to find comfort and solace in food — and we are not talking about salads, grapefruit and tilapia. Enter the 2015 AAC Get Fit Challenge for county employees and elected officials. The Get Fit Challenge is a way to band together with the people we work with every day for support and encouragement to reach our health and fitness goals. We talk a lot about losing weight, exercising and generally getting fit. The fact is, it is no easy task. Having a partner or a group for support is key to getting started and sticking with it. We kicked off the Get Fit Challenge on March 2 with our initial weigh in and waist measuring. We have 15 teams and 128 participants. This group includes a variety of ages, sizes and fitness goals. However, the one thing they have in common is they all want to feel better and cruise into summer healthier than they were when they started in March. The first month brought a good start with the group collectively losing 237 pounds and 81 inches in the waist. Way to go! This year’s challenge includes some extras that will hopefully lead to creating some healthy habits as well as earn the teams some bonus pounds lost. In March our focus was on increasing our water intake. Drinking water is incredibly important to weight loss and overall health. Did you know that drinking water: • • • • • • • • • • • •

Helps convert food into energy Removes wastes and toxins Helps your body absorb nutrients Moistens oxygen for breathing Cushions your joints Helps carry nutrients and oxygen to your cells Improves your productivity at work Is a natural remedy for a headache Relieves fatigue and improves your mood Reduces the risk of cancer Improves your performance during exercise Makes you look younger and healthier

Many health experts have increased the amount of water a person should drink a day from the long held standard 64 ounces to half your body weight in ounces of water. That seems like a great deal of water to most folks. However, when considering the benefits listed above, it is worth it. April brings the focus of the “Get Fitters” to increasing fruit and vegetable intake. The American Heart Association and probably every doctor in the world recommends a diet rich in fruits and

Savings times 2

Wallet & waistline

vegetables. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, “Healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.” The CDC recommends that a person who needs 2,000 calories per day should eat two cups of fruit 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day. That does not sound too bad, but studies Becky Comet show that only 33 percent of adults AAC Member are eating the recommended daily amount of fruit, and even fewer Benefits Manager — 27 percent — are meeting their vegetable quota. The month of May will see our Get Fit participants get moving. The challenge is to walk and/or jog 20 miles in a month. If you are looking at a diet program that says you do not have to exercise at all, I would keep looking. Increasing your physical activity is not just important for weight loss, it is important to so many areas of your general health. The American Heart Association recently recommended for those with heart disease to “get an average of 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week.” Walking is a good way to relieve stress, get some much-needed vitamin D from the sun and enjoy God’s creations. In June, the Get Fitters will wrap up this challenge with incorporating all three of these healthy habits into their lifestyle – drinking water, eating fruits and vegetables, and staying active with things like walking. The Get Fit Challenge will see its final weigh in and measuring on June 26. Winning teams will be determined by the highest combined percentage of weight and waist inches lost. Diving into a new way of eating, increasing activity and trying to take control of your health can be a very difficult task, at best. Old habits die hard. That place we have on the couch seems to call our name when we do not visit it regularly. Then there are those of us that are so busy taking care of everyone else that there is no time or energy left to take care of ourselves. We think it is selfish to set aside time to take care of our own health. It is time to change that mindset. You will be a better spouse, parent, employee and person if you do. In the words of Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

www.arcounties.org COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015



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Management of jail and prison overcrowding, public safety and criminal justice and parole reform


n Monday Feb. 9, 2015, Gov. Asa Hutchinson addressed the County Judges Association of Arkansas. He declared the overcrowding of inmates in the local county jails and detention centers to be an urgent problem, and he vowed the state will become a better partner in paying its just debts to counties for county jail reimbursement. The following week, on Feb. 18, 2015, the Governor announced his plan to reform the criminal justice system, enhance public safety and reduce prison overcrowding. The Governor noted that 2,500 state prisoners were in county jails waiting for state prison beds to become available. He noted that the state’s prison population was approximately 18,000 — and growing annually by 17 percent, one of the largest growth rates in the nation. He also explained that the rate of recidivism in Arkansas of 43 percent indicates that about 4,300 parolees are likely to return to the state prisons. The Governor announced a plan seeking a balanced solution: to reduce the rate of repeat offenders, increase public safety and spend criminal justice and correction funds effectively, on evidenced based solutions. It is well documented that the county jail back up has caused overcrowding at unprecedented high levels for almost two years. The Governor and the General Assembly have formulated a plan, as outlined below, for addressing overcrowding. However, it is now clear that there needs to be additional immediate temporary relief. As of May 27, the number of state inmates backed up in county jails was reported as 2,970. Even with anticipated early release of more than 400 inmates under the emergency powers act, which has been utilized more often than not, and the implementation of the Governor’s plan, over the next six months, there simply are not enough local jail and state prison beds in Arkansas to hold the tens of thousands of local pretrial detainees and postconviction state and local inmates. Absent immediate relief in addition to the Governor’s plan, the levels of overcrowding will stay in excess of 2,500 for yet another year and may likely go over 3,400 in the months ahead. It would be prudent for you and your constituents to continue to seek for the continuing overcrowding crisis to be addressed under a special session. Why should the state and local taxpayer have to wait for the fiscal session in 2016 for this prolong/continuing public safety crisis? The formation of the Governor’s plan was assisted greatly by the efforts of the General Assembly, State Agencies, Judiciary and Joint Budget Committees, during the interim (prior to the 2015 regular session). Legislators and corrections officials visited neighboring states, toured corrections facilities and examined corrections costs and nationally proven tools for combating recidivism. They also conducted public committee meetings on the tools absent in Arkansas and necessary to construct a comprehensive plan to reform our criminal justice and parole system. This General 16


Assembly avoided the mistakes of the past; it funded these priority public safety needs. To address overcrowding, the Governor’s plan calls for adding Mark Whitmore 790 beds at various facilities, AAC Chief Counsel including contracting for 288 beds in Bowie County, Texas. In addition, the plan would add 48 beds at the Pine Bluff Work Center; add 178 beds at the Ester Unit in Pine Bluff, formerly known as the Diagnostic Unit; add 28 beds at the Tucker Unit; add 48 beds at the Ouachita River Unit in Malvern; and procure 200 beds that the state would establish by contracting with various counties. These methods of addressing overcrowding were in lieu of spending approximately $100 million — One Hundred Million Dollars — for a new state prison to hold approximately 1,000 inmates. The plan also includes hiring 52 new probation and parole officers, support staff and substance abuse treatment managers and proposes spending $5.5 million to create the state’s first transitional re-entry centers, where offenders who are within 18 months of release could learn work skills and prepare to reenter society. Five hundred offenders could be transferred to the facilities, easing overcrowding in state prisons. It was fortuitous that the General Assembly in 2013, adopted SB1095 (sponsored by Sen. Joyce Elliott; Rep. Fred Love), Act 1190 of 2013, to direct the establishment of a viable reentry program in Arkansas. HB1264, Act 1075 of 2015, provides for the newly established reentry program that will remove 500 eligible parolees from the state prisons and place them in supervised housing for purposes of equipping them to reenter society and the job market. An innovative pilot program contracts to fulfill a grant from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission of $830,000 to demolish 600 houses creating blight in Pine Bluff. Proper funding for probation and parole officers has been needed for years, and the 90th General Assembly fully funded these necessary systemic reforms. The Governor’s plan also included an increase of $2 per day for state inmates, and his budget increases the county jail reimbursement funding from $16.4 million to $27.8 million for FY 2016 and FY 2017. HB1316, Act 287, provides a transfer from surplus of $6 million for supplemental appropriation along with $1.1 million from the Governor’s rainy day fund to the Department of Corrections and Community Corrections for payment of sums owed for this state fiscal year (FY2015). The state currently owes counties approximately $6.4 million. The Governor’s recommendation and the appropriations of the General Assembly for the Department of Correction in HB1223, Act 1071, reflects appropriation of $40 million COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015


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and funding of approximately $27.8 million for the next probationers nearing release shall be referred to limited mental two state fiscal years. health or substance abuse treatment, or both, when part of Also, the Governor supported and the General Assembly court order, supervision plan or treatment plan. One feature adopted the legislation offered by the Arkansas Sheriffs Association of the act is to implement “pay for success” grants to judicial (ASA) and the Association of Counties (AAC) to assure that districts that will provide payment for intervention services if the state is a better partner. SB329 (sponsored by Sen. Hickey; evidence-based practice shows to reduce recidivism rates. The Rep. Wright), Act 1201, directs the Department of Corrections Governor’s plan invests $2.8 million ($100,000 dollars per and Community Corrections to pay reimbursement for county judicial district) in grants for drug treatment courts and other jail back up monthly and has an effective date of Oct. 1, 2015. alternative sentencing programs for non-violent offenders to Under the act, after the proper documentation is verified, county be divided equally by statewide by judicial district. jail back up will be paid monthly (without awaiting the transfer Under Act 895 the Parole Board shall be subject to experience of the inmate to the state or release of the inmate). There was requirements. Also, the General Assembly shall review actions also progress on other operations between corrections and the and records of the Parole Board, including use of intermediate counties. HB1374 (sponsored by Rep. Wright, Sen. Caldwell), sanctions to assure the use of the grid (not solely use of Act 1171, allows the sheriff to transport state inmates to the revocation of parole) and proper release for nonviolent felons nearest facility of the Department of Corrections or Community with light sentences under electronic monitoring. Act 895 Corrections (under prior law the sheriffs had to transport is a comprehensive approach at reform. The AAC, ASA and inmates all over the state to particular facilities as directed by state CJAA will stay engaged in the implementation of reforms. corrections officials). HB1371 (sponsored by Rep. Wright, Sen. Each county and judicial district needs to take an active role in Caldwell), Act 1239, provides for parole revocation hearings to be the criminal justice system. The notion of legislators throwing scheduled in seven days after arrest and conducted within 14 days money into an ever-growing prison system, at the estimated after arrest. Act 1239 also provides that unless the sheriff agrees to cost of $100 million for a new state prison every few years, has hold parolees without new charges or new convictions in a local been determined by the Governor and the General Assembly jail, such parolees may be ordered to be taken by a parole officer as inefficient use of tax dollars. to a facility of the Department of Corrections or Community Section 14 of Act 895 provides for fairness for counties, Corrections for the state and the detention (not our taxpayers. Many local county jails). hospitals and This reaffirms that medical providers local jails are for in Arkansas ct 895 of 2015 is the centerpiece of legislation persons accused and the United awaiting access States seek to reform the criminal justice system, enhance to the courts reimbursement public safety and to reduce prison overcrowding. for or convicted of inmate crimes, ACA 14medical expenses 14-802(a), not for based upon costs parolees with their or the established parole revoked Medicaid rate. and to be returned by law to custody of the state. HB1543 However, in the absence of an agreement or a law (such as (sponsored by Rep. Micah Neal), Act 946, deletes the 30-day Section 14 of Act 895 of 2015) some hospitals and medical gap between conviction of a state inmate and acceptance of providers have billed counties or local governments for sums responsibility for inmate medical expenses. The Act mandates far in excess of the costs for services or the Medicaid rate. the state to be obligated for inmate medical expenses for a state Section 14 of Act 895 provides that a local jail or detention inmate upon receipt of a correct sentencing documentation. facility shall not be charged for the provision of medical Throughout the session the sponsors of these bills worked with services and treatment to an inmate in excess of the Medicaid General Assembly. reimbursement rate for the same or similar charges. Counties SB472, sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, now Act can’t afford or budget for exorbitant inmate medical expenses. 895 of 2015, is the centerpiece of legislation to reform the The Governor and 90th General Assembly tackled a wide criminal justice system, enhance public safety and to reduce range of issues concerning the provision and costs of medical prison overcrowding. The Act provides for a litany of reforms, services in Arkansas. The protections under Section 14 of some of which are: residential burglary will be defined as a Act 895 from a cap based on costs will assist several counties violent crime for purposes of detaining the inmate longer greatly in budgeting and payment of inmate medical based without parole; the Department of Human Services (DHS) upon costs or the Medicaid rate. We owe a debt of gratitude to shall allow an inmate to apply for Medicaid online 45 days the Governor and 90th General Assembly for addressing this before being released; incarceration will result in suspension important issue. Also, we would not have this law in Arkansas from Medicaid/private option (previously incarceration today if not for Sandy Horton, director of the Kansas Sheriffs resulted in revocation of Medicaid); establishes a specialty Association. He traveled to Arkansas and to various states to court program (drug courts, mental health, veteran’s courts; assist in passing laws providing for a cap on costs. The ASA DWI, juvenile drug court; hope court; smart court, etc.); and CJAA will address the implementation of these changes fees from defendants to assist in funding for specialty courts in our upcoming conferences. and public defenders; bad behavior/activities time during The “Telemedicine Act,” SB133 (sponsored by Sen. Cecile incarceration will be added to considerations for parole eligibility; parolee/probationer will be subject to warrantless See “REFORM” on Page 18 > > > search by parole or law enforcement officers; parolees or





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REFORM Bledsoe and Rep. Deborah Ferguson), Act 887, adopted major changes in Arkansas on the conveyance of medicine to rural constituents. Telemedicine is an efficient tool for addressing shortages of doctors and specialists in rural areas. Act 887 establishes the proper professional use of telemedicine and professional standards, provides for reimbursement for telemedicine by Medicaid and for doctors by insurance, encourages use in Arkansas hospitals and defines the location of telemedicine. The advent of telemedicine in Arkansas should enhance access of rural Arkansans to physician specialists, psychiatrists and behavioral health professionals. Clearly, telemedicine will play a major role in the efforts to improve health care and treatment for mental illness in rural Arkansas. County government, non-profits and other stakeholders also are finding ways to improve their communities and public safety. For example, in Fort Smith, the Old Fort Homeless coalition is creating a homeless campus shelter to assist the homeless to return to the mainstream of society. The shelter will offer consolidation of an array of services from Mercy Hospital, Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center and the Crisis Intervention Center, etc. The services will include medical, dental, behavioral and counseling health care, job training, education, food and shelter. This will be made possible by grants and private donations along with collaboration by non-profit nongovernmental organizations and public/governmental entities. The homeless population is comprised by a large percentage of veterans, victims of domestic abuse and the severely mentally ill. A group known as Judicial Equality for Mental Illness (JEMI), which is comprised of county judges, law enforcement, prosecutors and medical providers, was formed in Benton and Washington counties. JEMI worked with legislators for SB148 (sponsored by Sen. Jon Woods, Sen. Uvalde Lindsey and Rep. David Whitaker), which was folded into SB472 and made part of Act 895 (summarized above), and provides for a new drug court fee that should help provide some funding for new treatment centers that some drug offenders or the mentally ill may qualify for rather than jail. The goal is to assist these

FOIA the records from seeking judicial review of the custodian’s decision or the decision of the Attorney General.” Alternative Procedure Available for Litigation: The redaction process is a lot of work. If the person making the FOIA request is an attorney and the request is made as a part of a pending lawsuit, an alternative procedure would be to use a confidentiality agreement between legal counsel (which can be an oral agreement) whereby the requesting attorney would be permitted to look at the entire (unredacted) file and identify what he or she wants a copy of, agreeing that he or she would not release any information until there was an agreement with respect to the information he wanted to copy. Then, if a “privacy” dispute arose, it could be brought before the judge before any information was released to third parties or used by the requesting attorney in any way. 18

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folks to be productive members of society. The publication by the National Association of Counties (NACo), “Crisis Care Services for Counties: Preventing Individuals with Mental Illness from Entering Local Corrections Systems,” provides a study of 16 community solutions, numerous publications and studies showing the positive impact and cost efficiency of these efforts. As noted above, Act 895 also authorized assignment to drug or behavioral treatment as a condition of parole or probation. The Governor and General Assembly adopted SB96 (sponsored by Sen. Jim Hendren and Rep. Joe Farrer), Act 46, “The Arkansas Health Care Reform Act of 2015,” to establish a legislative task force and to transform the Arkansas Medicaid Program with innovative and cost effective solutions for provision of health care services. We need to be sure the conveyance of health care, and behavioral health in Arkansas does not forsake those with mental illness. We should not and can no longer afford to use our criminal justice, jail and prison system for warehousing the mentally ill in Arkansas. We desperately need regional crisis stabilization units and diversion of those with drug abuse or mental illness into treatment. We will continue to work with DHS, state corrections and parole officials, the General Assembly and the Governor to address the ranking of Arkansas as the 50th among states in treatment of the mentally ill. By addressing health care, behavioral health, criminal justice and parole issues in a comprehensive manner, we have a potential to build on the progress made from the 90th Regular Session of the General Assembly. On the Web:

Look for NACo’s “Crisis Care Services for Counties: Preventing Individuals with Mental Illness from Entering Local Corrections Systems” publication online at

www.arcounties.org Search “Crisis Care.”

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AACRMF Counties: This is complicated. If your county is a member of the AAC’s Risk Management Fund, just call for help. For AACRMF members, there is NO COST for employment advice before the matter becomes a contested proceeding (county grievance hearing, EEOC charge or lawsuit). The AACRMF will help you through the process of answering an FOIA Request for personnel records. Mike Rainwater, a regular contributor to County Lines and lead attorney for AAC Risk Management, is principal shareholder of Rainwater, Holt, and Sexton, P.A., a state-wide personal injury and disability law firm. Mr. Rainwater has been a lawyer for over 30 years, is a former deputy prosecuting attorney, and has defended city and county officials for over 25 years. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015

Come to meetings with answers, not questions. SaveMyRoad.com is the premier information hub for roadway planning and preservation. Here, you’ll find helpful information ranging from treatment options to preservation strategies that will put your projects in the fast lane.




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Perspective can change in an instant


erspective. Your general perspective undoubtedly changes over time, but it may also change in an instant depending what comes your way. Unfortunately, the latter example rang true for the Association of Arkansas Counties family in late April when we tragically lost our general counsel Jonathan Greer. We suffered a tremendous loss on the heels of a frenzied but productive legislative session. And “JG,” as many of us called him, was a critical player in our legislative and advocacy efforts here at AAC. He was dedicated to public servants and service. His precision in understanding and communicating the law to laypersons and other attorneys was masterful. He delivered himself everyday with an enchanting smile and a kind demeanor. I saw him lobby and navigate the toughest bills in the AAC package with rolled up sleeves and a determined pace until the job was done. I only knew JG for a relatively short time, but he left an impression on me that will endure not only in my life, but also in my career of serving and advocating for public servants. JG’s office was right next to mine so we often shared in each other’s day thanks mostly to proximity. We’d have conversations from our respective chairs in between phone calls, bounce around policy ideas on countless issues, float solutions to our counties’ current adversities and almost everyday, we would certainly talk about where we were going for lunch. I’m actually blaming the 15 extra pounds I gained during the session on JG. For those of you who knew him, he liked to eat, but didn’t seem to gain a pound. I will trim the pounds but would not trade our fellowship during lunch for anything. He will be greatly missed. “So, what’s in your pocket?” That is a conversation starter we use at AAC. And, yes, JG gets all the credit for this one. Today, my answer is perspective. I have a renewed perspective on what people mean and how we should battle to keep people at the top of our minds as we work with all walks of life for the counties and the state of Arkansas. Certainly during a session, I think many of us gravitate toward viewing things through our cynical filter and maybe lose sight of the truth. And the truth is … it’s all about people. We hold endless other perspectives on various events, projects, passions, rights, religions or other on goings in our lives. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “perspective” as “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.” For instance, county officials have a perspective or understand the true relations of the challenges facing county government today and the relative importance of finding solutions. We could say they have a county perspective. And when you have that, you also have a state perspective. After all, the 75 counties collectively assist the state in carrying out its business, for its people, to all corners of Arkansas. The Arkansas 90th General Assembly adjourned sine die April 20

Legislative lines

22. Therefore, Acts without emergency clauses or specific enacting dates will become law July 22, 2015. Of the 2,220 bills filed during the session, 1,350 became Acts. AAC tracked more than 714 bills that could affect county government and more than 375 of those bills became law. AAC stakeholders and staff successfully passed 25 AAC legislative packScott perkins age bills into law. We also nurtured Communications or provided legislative guidance or Director helped defeat hundreds more. This was accomplished through a concert of county officials connecting and communicating with legislators with answers in mind. AAC stakeholders are committed to building on that effort in the interim and for the 91st General Assembly in 2017. When the dust settled from a fairly quick session, AAC stakeholders could hold their heads high in what was a successful endeavor. However, the true success can be found in the establishment and strengthening of county officials’ partnerships with the legislature. We have many more challenges ahead and will continue to work toward the ever-increasing hurdles in delivering county services. We appreciate the governor and legislature’s attention to county jail overcrowding and reimbursement and the beginning of a criminal justice overhaul during the session, but the work has just begun. The county jail backup population is at all-time highs regardless of the actions taken by the 90th. Our state’s parole system woes continue, but the impact of Act 895 of 2015 has not had time to fully manifest. Jail overcrowding and criminal justice reform will remain at the top of our state’s to-do list. Other pressing issues for counties in the unfunded mandate realm like 911 modernization and funding, electioneering equipment needs, adjustments to the state highway system and decreases in county turn back funds top the list for our stakeholders. I think you will see a movement from our quorum courts and elected officials to further communicate their concerns with increased unfunded mandates being placed on the backs of counties who are already struggling. As they continue to advocate and educate the legislature, we will keep our eyes on the issues, but our goals seeded in solutions. We would like to thank all the sponsors and supporters of AAC legislation and especially the leadership in the house and the senate and the governor for their public service to this great state. We look forward to working with all you as we partner for the betterment of Arkansas. Don’t forget the 47th annual AAC Conference August 5-7 in Springdale. For more information, drop me an e-mail at sperkins@arcounties.org. 75 counties. One voice. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015


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County Government: Not just another special interest group


ounty government has an important role in maintaining the society upon which we all depend. This responsibility entails all manner of activities to provide for the health, safety and welfare of citizens and to foster economic growth to benefit those same citizens. Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize the roles and responsibilities carried out by local government — both counties and cities. Counties of Arkansas are not just another special interest group. We are “a political subdivision of the state for the more convenient administration of justice and the exercise of local legislative authority related to county affairs” as defined by Arkansas Code § 14-14-102. Therefore, we should be given great consideration in the division of state budget dollars. Counties, by and large, are the delivery arm of various, extremely vital state services. The state does provide financial support for many of these services — although not adequate support. In tough budget times when the state is looking for places to cut, state officials seem to forget that cutting support doesn’t diminish needs. This past legislative session was successful in that the state of Arkansas stepped up to the plate to pass legislation to help relieve state prison and county jail overcrowding, which we believe will help in the long term. They also provided an adequate appropriation and funding level for paying counties when they house state prisoners and increased the per day rate paid to Arkansas counties by $2. For that we are very grateful. However, that was simply the state of Arkansas stepping up to do what was legal and right — paying for the just and legal debts of the state as is required by the Arkansas Constitution, Article 16, Section 2. However, we also saw at least a couple of bills that became law that will hamper growth in assessment and collection of local property taxes, which will cause a reduction or a frozen level of property taxes on certain types of business property. This type of legislation wreaks havoc on local property taxes — a major source of revenue for county and city general and road/street

Seems To Me...

operations; for libraries; for schools; and for other entities. The schools are the only protected entity. Because of the Lakeview court case and subsequent legislation, any local revenue shortfall will ultimately be made up by state funds. That puts the rest of us — counties and others — at more risk of losing state Eddie A. Jones funds. Especially since the current County Consultant proclivity of the Legislature is to cut taxes — make the pie smaller even though the mandates of service remain the same or increase. Another negative happening for counties was a small reduction in county general turnback. This is a source of revenue provided by the state to help offset the costs counties face in the delivery of state mandated services. This source of revenue has been stagnant for years — even though the costs have not been stagnant. Even so, we suffered a small decrease in that source of funding through the Revenue Stabilization Act, although Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s original proposed balanced budget held us harmless. That could still have happened if legislators had given counties proper priority. Remember, county government is not just another special interest group — we are an arm of the state to deliver vital state services. Although counties’ general turnback was cut by only 1 percent ($216,451), it is probably not widely known that our gross “general turnback” or “county aid” is reduced by a deduction of about $2.3 million for property reappraisal and another $5.5 million to help pay the salaries of Arkansas prosecutors, who are state employees for a state court system. That reduces our gross “county aid” to $13.9 million — less the $216,451 cut we took in this year’s RSA. This means the state is not even close to providing the proper amount of county aid to fund the mandates put on county government. I am bolstered only by the fact that I know that for most

75 Counties - One Voice 22



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county officials their service in county government is a “labor of hung in yellow decay around her shrunken form. Her wounded love.” I know it has been for me in my 35 years of service — 26 heart consumed her life. We can follow the same course. We can years as an elected official and the following years with the Aslet our problems, disappointments, frustrations and disagreesociation of Arkansas Counties. ments consume us. Or we can do something positive and helpThe people of Arkansas are well served by those in county ful. We can do the right thing. government. The commitment, dedication and passion of We could follow the example of the Apostle Paul. His goal county officials is overwhelming. As a group, you work hard to was to be a missionary to Spain. However, God had other plans. bring common sense decision-making to local issues. You spend Paul ended up in prison. Sitting in a Roman jail, Paul could the taxpayer dollars wisely. You care about the people and the have made the same choice as Miss Havisham, but he didn’t. place they call home — your county. Instead he said, “As long as I’m here, I might as well write a Some of the best “public servants” work in Arkansas county few letters.” Hence your Bible has the Epistles to Philemon, the government. I see professionals who bring great pride to public Philippians, the Colossians and the Ephesians. He took a lemon service. I see officials who are innovative and creative, officials and made lemonade. that share a commitment to quality. What an incredible journey Arkansas county officials have Yes, there are serious challenges ahead. But, I have great faith made to get to where you are. Many of you know that I was an that you are up to the challenges. Those of you in county govern- elected county official for 26 years, then executive director of ment office know that the Association of Aryour residents want kansas Counties and, in and deserve a better retirement, a county govArkansas. I believe that ernment consultant. As you are committed county officials, we began he people of Arkansas are well served to this place, to your this incredible journey people, and to their for various reasons — enby those in county government. The future. We in county couragement by others, commitment, dedication and passion government know a pressing issue, a desire how to work together to make things better, of county officials is overwhelming. As a group, in a nonpartisan way a desire to serve others. you work hard to bring common sense decisionto create change. And Whatever the reasons I know that you will that got us here, tough making to local issues. You spend the taxpayer not give up hope, even times demand that we dollars wisely. You care about the people and the though it sometimes rise to the challenge and looks hopeless. lead our counties and place they call home — your county. We had a tough but our state because we are fairly successful legislaservants of the people — tive session. I phrase public servants. it that way because Being a servant — that we were able to get is what a county official most of our AAC bill package enacted into law. But, we also is. We are not the king or queen on a throne. We are public were challenged with many bills that were detrimental to county servants who should bend low to serve. government. We were able to successfully challenge and defeat Servants resist stubbornness. Ulrich Zwingli manifested such some of those bills. Others were enacted, and we will work to a spirit. He promoted unity during Europe’s Great Reformathe best of our ability to administer and enforce them. tion. At one point he found himself at odds with Martin LuWe even experienced a number of issues that had the pother. Zwingli did not know what to do. He found his answer tential to be divisive. But we worked hard to ameliorate and one morning on the side of a Swiss mountain. mitigate division. No one is going to represent the interests of He watched two goats traversing a narrow path from opposite counties except those of us who are in it — those of us who directions — one ascending, the other descending. At one point have spent our adult lives trying to better county government. the narrow trail prevented them from passing each other. When When we are unified and speak with one voice, we have great they saw each other, they backed up and lowered their heads, as power and strength. Our unified voice is made stronger by the though ready to lunge. But then a wonderful thing happened. diversity of who we are and of what we value. The ascending goat lay down on the path. The other stepped What do we do with our problems? What do we do with over his back. The first animal then arose and continued his our disappointments? We could do what Miss Havisham did. climb to the top. Remember her in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations? Jilted Zwingli observed that the goat made it higher because he was by her fiancé just prior to the wedding, she closed all the blinds willing to bend lower. That’s what we have to do as county officials, in the house, stopped every clock, left the wedding cake on the table to gather cobwebs, and wore her wedding dress until it See “GROUP” on Page 24 > > >





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GROUP not only with the public we serve, but also with each other. We must stay unified. President Lyndon B. Johnson said, “There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few that we can solve by ourselves.” There is no one who has all the right answers. I was recently reading President Gerald R. Ford’s book “Humor and the Presidency” and was quickly reminded of how so many of us in government have used humor to help us get through the tough times. President Abraham Lincoln would often begin cabinet meetings by reading the satirical stories of Artemus Ward. This irritated some politicians, who felt the president should be more sober and serious. One such critic, a Congressman Arnold from New York, complained to Lincoln about the practice, asking: “How can you sit there and read those stories knowing the casualty figures that are coming in from Gettysburg?” Lincoln flung down his book of Artemus Ward stories and turned to Arnold, tears streaming down his face. “Mr. Arnold, were it not for my little jokes, I could not bear the burdens of this office,” he replied. Will Rogers once told the story of visiting the White House and being greeted by Eleanor Roosevelt. “Where is the president?” Rogers asked. “Wherever you hear the laughter,” the First Lady replied.


Continued From Page 23


Roosevelt’s White House was like Lincoln’s in its reliance on humor as a way of lighting a path through dark times. During the recent Arkansas legislative session I saw a number of legislators, county officials and other leaders that wisely called upon humor to help guide them through the tough times and on to success. Sadly, I saw others that saw no need — or maybe did not realize the availability of humor to help themselves and those around them. Humor sustains everyone connected to politics and can help span differences. Tough times never last, but tough people do. No one is tougher than those who serve in local government — those serving in the county courthouses. You are there for the right reasons. The people who make the difference are not the ones with the credentials, but the ones with the concern — those of you serving in the county constitutional offices of this great state. The strength of unity is what keeps counties in the game. President Woodrow Wilson said, “We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end.” Counties provide vital services that keep society functioning, even if they are not recognized every day. We are not just another special interest group. The totality of what county government does remains the foundation upon which our state and nation were built and not the other way around.



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Dual Seats

Arkansas County has two courthouses with vastly different architectural styles


Story by Mark Christ and Photography by Holly Hope Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

rkansas County’s dual courthouses are testaments to the old and the new in a region that is home to the oldest settlement in the state. The Southern District Courthouse in DeWitt reflects the 20th-century Art Deco style even as it houses some of the oldest records in Arkansas; the Northern District Courthouse in Stuttgart, exhibiting the Colonial Revival style drawing from the nation’s earliest architecture, was built to serve an area that was experiencing an agricultural boom. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, has worked with Arkansas County on both buildings to keep them in service, using Real Estate Transfer Tax funds from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (see sidebar). Arkansas County was formed on Dec. 31, 1813, by the Missouri legislature, which governed the area that would eventually become the state of Arkansas, and Arkansas Post (which had housed an American military presence since 1804) became its seat. It also became the capitol when Arkansas Territory was created in 1819, a position it would hold a mere two years before the seat of government moved to Little Rock. With the eclipse of Arkansas Post, a new, more central location was desired for the county seat. DeWitt is named for DeWitt Clinton, then governor of New York. The name was selected from among three names placed in a hat and pulled at random — 26

DeWitt being among the contenders because there already was a town called Clinton in north-central Arkansas. A log courthouse was built in 1855, and the county records were moved there from the Post. The first county court and probate sessions were held in October of that year. The log building was used until a more substantial two-story brick building was erected in 1862. This building served until replaced by a three-story brick edifice in 1893, but because of a faulty foundation, the third courthouse deteriorated to the point that it had to be condemned. This building was replaced by the current Arkansas County Courthouse — Southern District in 1932. Built on the same site as the previous brick courthouses, the new building sported a modern Art Deco design by noted Little Rock architect H. Ray Burks and was constructed by the E.V. Bird Construction Company. Noteworthy features include the overall symmetry of the facades, the employment of such stylized Classical elements as the fluted pilasters and the pseudo-Classical, almost abstract “zig-zag” detail common to such early Art Deco designs, and the square, blocky lettering used for the name panel near the cornices on both the eastern and western elevations. Interior features such as the ceramic tile floor and shallow, stylized “bracket” details at the tops of the columns also survive. The new building in DeWitt may have been inspired by friendly competition with its neighbor to the north, which had constructed a brand-new courthouse four years earlier. Stuttgart COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015

had been founded by German settlers from the American Midwest in 1880. Its founders wisely relocated a bit to the north in 1882, when the first railroad ran through the area. While many of the descendants of these initial settlers left the area around the turn of the century as the traditional cotton and hay grown in the area depleted the soil, a new crop — rice — was introduced to the Grand Prairie. The combination of agriculture and abundant railroads allowed Stuttgart to thrive, especially after the state’s first rice mill was built there in 1907. By 1909, 27,000 acres near the town were planted in rice. Ten years later, rice acreage had ballooned to 143,000 acres. The resultant surge in commercial and legal activity likely resulted in the establishment of a new courthouse to serve the northern area of Arkansas County. A local architect, J.B. Barrett of the Barrett and Ogletree firm, was selected to design a building to house offices for the new district, and he chose a restrained interpretation of the Colonial Revival style of architecture. The new building, completed in 1928, features such elements as a projecting pediment and entablature supported by raised brick pilasters on each of its principal elevations, but also includes such whimsical details as diamond patterns of brick in a basket weave design. Both courthouses continue to serve the people of Stuttgart to this day. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015

Opposite Page: Arkansas County’s Southern District Courthouse in DeWitt reflects the 20thcentury Art Deco style even as it houses some of the oldest records in the state. It was designed by H. Ray Burks and constructed by the E.V. Bird Construction Company. Top Left: Features of the Art Deco-style Southern District Courthouse include fluted pilasters. The symmetrical facade also has zig-zag details and block lettering on the name panel near the cornices. Top Right: Arkansas County’s Northern District Courthouse in Stuttgart was designed by architect J.B. Barrett. Built in 1928, it is a Colonial Revival-style building.

Arkansas Historic Preservation Program County Courthouse Restoration Grants awarded to Arkansas County FY94 FY95 FY96 FY97 FY98 FY00 FY01 FY03 FY03

Repair piers on north side, DeWitt Exterior restoration, DeWitt Exterior restoration, Stuttgart ADA restrooms and ramp, DeWitt Roof restoration, DeWitt Interior ADA modifications, Stuttgart ADA accessibility, Stuttgart ADA accessibility, DeWitt ADA accessibility, DeWitt



$17,500 $18,000 $6,000 $19,548 $21,165 $65,000 $40,000 $13,000 $43,000 $243,213


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Continued From Page 27


Arkansas County Circuit Clerk Sarah Merchant and County Clerk Melissa Wood display one of the many bound volumes of documentation such as marriage licenses, deeds and probate records that has been preserved. Photo by Holly Hope/AHPP

Arkansas County historic preservation efforts encompass recorded documents

By Mark Christ Arkansas Historic Preservation Program


ne of the greatest challenges faced by Arkansas county courthouses, from the historian’s viewpoint, is the preservation of county records. Held in large bound volumes, these cumbersome, often moldering books contain a county’s history from its earliest days. Marriage licenses. Deeds. Probate records. The details of the lives of the people touched by county government. Arkansas County has taken an aggressive approach to preserving its records, which include marriage and probate records dating to 1819 and deeds, mortgages and other materials that go as far back as 1808. Here you find the records of indentured servants who came to Arkansas to start a new life, the files that show a slave who received manumission and returned later to purchase his wife’s freedom. The lives of real people, long dead. Arkansas County Clerk Melissa Wood and Arkansas County Circuit Clerk Sarah Merchant are keeping the preservation effort moving. “I take great pride in our restoration project,” Wood said. “We have received numerous compliments on the condition of records. I always enjoy when a person 28

comes in to do genealogy research and they find something new. We have marriages, adoptions, guardianships, tax records, wills and probate records that date back to 1819. Our records are an important tool in telling a person’s family history. We must do our very best to maintain and preserve these records for years to come.” Merchant shares that sentiment. “It is my personal opinion that we should always be mindful of ‘where we came from.’ I think it helps to keep us grounded and gives us prospective in creating goals for the future,” she said. “All county records are rich in heritage and history. Even grade school and high school students who are not particularly interested in history seem to be in awe of the old records. There is nothing like sitting down with a 200-year-old book to get a feel for how things used to be. Many young people come away with a thankful attitude that they don’t have to write everything by hand, they don’t have to ride a horse to town, they don’t have to walk to school and they don’t have to feed the livestock. For adults of all ages, the records are a source of valuable information that provides a connection with generations past. Many people sit and reminisce over the books as childhood memories of family, friends and community return. I believe that it is of utmost importance to preserve these records so that generations to come may have the same

opportunity to enjoy them.” The restoration effort began about 17 years ago when Arkansas County Circuit Clerk Tommy Sue Keffer began budgeting money from the Recorder’s Cost Fund, and the first records targeted for preservation were indices, deeds and mortgages, circuit court judgments, marriage licenses, wills and probate records — the records that are researched and handled the most. The Arkansas County Records Preservation Committee was established around 2001 to raise funds for the project, beginning with an Arkansas County Historical Cookbook, which was a huge success. The citizens — private, corporate and non-profit — have made donations in Gold, Silver and Bronze categories, and the Committee has raised $76,700, while the Recorder’s Cost Fund has supplied $68,000 over the years. Circuit Clerk Merchant began a digital imaging project in 2009, beginning with a $25,000 Arkanas Court Recorders grant that helped buy equipment to scan county records, and $35,040 in additional grants has kept the project moving along. To date, 28 of the 139 books targeted for preservation by the county clerk’s office and 86 of the 240 in the circuit clerk’s office have been completed, and they will continue preserving Arkansas County’s heritage, one page at a time. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015

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Establishing roots County government gives State Auditor Andrea Lea strong base of experience By Christy L. Smith AAC Communications Coordinator


fter spending her childhood moving from base to base with her military family, State Auditor Andrea Lea had little difficulty planting roots in Arkansas. She has now lived in Russellville for more than three decades and is leaving her mark on the community through public service. A graduate of Arkansas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in emergency management and administration, Lea served three terms on the Pope County Quorum Court, one term on the Russellville City Council, three terms as a state representative and is in her first year as the state’s auditor. She said she sought a seat on the Pope County Quorum Court in 1996 because she wanted to get involved. “I had been involved in the community in other ways and saw [the quorum court] as an opportunity,” she said. “When I studied local government, that seemed to suit me best.” Once sworn in as a justice of the peace, Lea hit the ground running. “Something that was important to me was to understand each person’s job, and so I spent time in the courthouse learning what they did. I spent time with the ambulance crew, the road crew … I wanted to learn all aspects of it,” Lea said. She also was appointed chairman of the Pope County Jail Renovation Committee, which managed to remodel the county jail without incurring debt. “We built the jail with no bonds and did not go into debt. We paid cash for remodeling,” she said. Lea said the committee carefully planned and budgeted, putting large sums of money away in a fund over the course of several years, in order to accomplish this. And they tackled the project with an eye toward future expansion. “We built it with the future in sight so if they ever come up with the money, they can drop another pod in very easily. To me, that was significant,” Lea said. During her tenure as a justice of the peace, Lea also initiated the annual Pope County Cleanup. Then in 2002, Lea ran for and was elected to the Russellville City Council. On the council she continued her bud30

geting work. Then after a two-year hiatus from politics, in 2008 she waged a campaign for the District 68 seat representing Russellville and Pottsville in the state House of Representatives. The seat had been vacated by Michael Lamoureux, who did not seek reelection in 2008 but won a special election in 2009 to fill the District 4 seat in the state Senate. He now serves as chief of staff to Gov. Asa Hutchinson. During her three terms in the House, Lea served on the Budget, Revenue and Taxation, and Rules committees. She was a member of the Arkansas Legislative Council and chairman of the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee. In addition to many other legislative efforts she was a part of, she co-sponsored legislation to require photo identification for casting a ballot in Arkansas, and she co-sponsored an amendment to state income tax rates. She said she also proudly served as a mentor to newly elected legislators. “I spent my time encouraging and helping other legislators as they got their feet wet,” she said, noting that freshmen legislators spend much of their time learning about the law-making process. “I was fortunate that I had a person who chose to do that with me. I saw others that didn’t have a mentor flailing. I kind of committed to being a mentor and helping other people.” Lea said serving as a county elected official was “one of the best training grounds” for becoming a state legislator. “It’s very similar, very similar processes,” she said of the way the quorum court and the state legislator operate. “You understand what it is to work with other people to get things done. It’s an easy transition from quorum court to state legislator.” Lea said the relationships she forged with county officials while she was on the quorum court served her well while she was a state representative. She said she never hesitated to ask county elected officials about issues she was considering in the House — and she encouraged other legislators to do the same. “This is something I tell people when I am mentoring them: go talk to your

county officials. You have a question about elections? No one can answer that better than your county clerk. You have a question about roads? Go talk to your county judge … your county judge knows more about roads than anyone,” Lea said. Toward the end of her third term in the state legislature, Lea was ready to “go home.” Her husband, Phillip, had retired and her family is important to her. Lea’s father was a native Arkansan who enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. The family had many duty stations over the course of his military service, but settled in Southern California, where Lea met her husband. The Navy man also had family ties in Arkansas. When he retired from the military, he knew he wanted to return here to work at the nuclear plant in Russellville. The couple has three children — a daughter and two sons — and three grandchildren. They have lived in the same house in Russellville for 30 years, and they enjoy relaxing evenings on their back deck. However, Lea said, several people approached her about running for state Auditor, a position being vacated by longtime public servant Charlie Daniels. “I struggled, and then I decided, ‘Ok, I’ll run.’ The worst thing that could happen is I would lose, and I would be retired with my husband, and that would be fine. But I won,” she explained. Lea was sworn into office on January 13, 2015, along with the state’s other constitutional officers. Her mother attended the ceremony. Her father passed away years ago, but the American flag that draped his coffin has a prominent position atop a bookshelf in Lea’s office. “Mom came when I was sworn in and saw that I had the flag up there. She burst out crying. She said that dad would have loved to see this day, to see [me] elected,” Lea said. Now Lea splits her time between Little Rock, where she keeps a small apartment during the week, and her home in Russellville. See


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The U.S. flag encased in glass above state Auditor Andrea Lea’s desk is the one that draped her father’s casket when he was buried. He had served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015


State Treasurer Dennis Milligan, who served as Saline County Circuit Clerk from 2011 to 2015, stands near the vault in his office at the Capitol.

A change maker

Proven innovator Dennis Milligan takes his ideas, philosophies to the Capitol By State Treasurer’s Staff


uring his time as Saline County Circuit Clerk, Dennis Milligan never accepted the phrase, “that’s how we’ve always done it” as an excuse to block progress. Milligan, who served as circuit clerk from 2011 until 2015 when he became the Treasurer of State, made many changes that advanced his county office. 32

“It seemed like every time I came up with a better, more efficient way to conduct business, somebody would tell me we shouldn’t make a change because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it,’” Milligan said. “As a small business owner, I am always looking for an innovative and more efficient way to do business. When you try to do that in government, people get upset at the idea of changes — even if it is change for the better.” During his time as a county official,

Milligan changed the way prospective jurors were notified when they needed to come to the courthouse for jury service. The method being used when he took office involved jury panel members calling an answering machine on Monday nights to listen to a recorded message. If a jury trial was set for that week, the recorded message told them when to come to court. In August 2011, only 19 people showed up for jury selection. Luckily, only 18 jurors were needed to fill the jury on that trial. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015

“It didn’t take long for me to realize of the circuit clerk offices. the Securities Reserve Account, which As Treasurer of State, Milligan con- assists in funding issues the people of that the number of people remembering to call in declined each week of the tinues to bring his innovate spirit to Arkansas care about such as: highway term. I knew there had to be a better that office. He pledged to restore hon- funding, four-lane highway construcor and integrity and to regain the pub- tion, Game & Fish, the Secretary of way,” Milligan said. State Help American Vote Act and He began using an Internet-based lic’s trust in the office. Milligan currently is reviewing a other accounts. system that notified potential jurors by Additionally, the office launched a sending them a text message, e-mail or blind bidder program that will elimiphone call to their home or cell phone. nate the possibility of favoritism in in- 75-county tour to promote the GIFT “We took the burden of knowing vesting state securities in the long-term Arkansas 529 program, which prowhen to come to court off individuals portfolio. Pre-approved vendors seek- vides a tax deferred savings account for and put it on the circuit clerk’s office ing state investments will be notified families to save for their children’s and where it belongs. The results were that electronically of the potential to bid grandchildren’s college education. Those funds can be used in state or more people were available for jury selec- for state investments. Bids will not have the name of the out of state at any four-year, two-year, tion,” Milligan said “This best result was that we were more respectful of people’s bank, broker or vender. Instead, each technical or vocational education institime. We were able to notify people not bidder will be assigned a number. The tution. As a part of the tour, the office to come to the court house when a trial bidder giving the best return, per the announced a 75-county drawing for one qualifications given, to the state will be eligible individual per county to win a was cancelled or postponed.” This had the benefit of saving money awarded the investment. After the bid $529 GIFT Arkansas 529 account. During the 90th Session of the Arbecause the county did not have to pay is awarded, the name of the bidder is revealed to the Treasurer and his staff. kansas General Assembly, the Treasurer jurors for coming in when a trial canof State’s office celed at the last worked on seminute. In Saline curing suppleCounty, jurors are n February — Milligan’s first full month in office, mental appropaid $25 per day priation of an for coming to the additional $100 the office saw an increase in the returns on shortcourthouse. They million in the get paid even if County Sales the trial has fallen term investments from an average of $3,000 per month to and Use Tax off the docket redistribution since the original $182,036.97. In March, the returns increased to $237,186. for Fiscal Year notification. 2015, secured In 2012, Milan additional ligan was one of $100 million 12 nominees for in the County the prestigious G. “This prevents favoritism to any bid- Sales and Use Tax redistribution for FisThomas Munsterman Award for Jury der. The only favoritism shown is to cal Year 2016 and secured an additional Innovation. This national award from the hard working taxpayers of Arkan- $100 million in the Amendment 74 the National Center for State Courts sas who get the benefits of the best deal Property Tax redistribution for Fiscal recognizes states, local courts, organiza- for the state,” Milligan said. Year 2016. tions or individuals that have made sigMilligan already is posting more The office also assisted in legislation nificant improvements or innovations public records about the office’s opera- allowing state employees to participate in jury procedures. tion on the official state website, under in payroll deduction into a 529 colMilligan didn’t win that award, but the Inside the Vault section, than have lege savings account, and assisted in he remains the only Arkansan nomi- previously been available online. legislation implementing the Federal nated to date. On his first day in office, Milligan Achieving a Better Life Program in the During the 89th Session of the Ar- instituted a no gifts policy for himself state allowing families with disabled kansas General Assembly, Milligan and staff. This new policy prohibits the individuals to set aside savings to care worked closely with legislators on Treasurer and his staff from accepting for the individual in a tax free account. Act 291 of 2013. He had previously gifts from anyone doing business with Treasurer Milligan is looking forended the practice in Saline County the office. ward to continuing to work with all of the circuit clerk being paid personIn February — Milligan’s first full his county colleagues in his new role ally while acting as the commissioner month in office, the office saw an in- as well as serve the people of Arkansas. for the court-ordered sale of real or crease in the returns on short-term inpersonal property. vestments from an average of $3,000 County officials in need assistance inAct 291 ended the practice state- per month to $182,036.97. In March, volving a local redistribution question or wide, and the fee now goes into the the returns increased to $237,186. issue, should call Rachel Graves in the county funds covering the operation This additional revenue is placed in Treasurer’s office at (501) 682-0002.




AAC B oard

P rofile

Soaring to the top Clark County Treasurer Judy Beth Hutcherson ascends to AAC board presidency By Kitty Chism For County Lines

The 17 elected officials from around the state, who earlier this year elected Judy Beth Hutcherson to be board president of the Association of Arkansas Counties, must have had in mind the old Ben Franklin adage “if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” Hutcherson is the first new president of the board in 15 years. She succeeds Mike Jacobs, who retired as Johnson County judge last fall but now serves as a justice of the peace. The AAC board presidency most often has gone to one of the state’s 75 county judges. Hutcherson is a county treasurer, albeit a highly visible one as a three-term president of the 100-member Arkansas County Treasurer’s Association. She won the Clark County Treasurer’s seat in 1997 and has been re-elected handily every two years since. The job is to manage the three-person office that receives and monitors and makes public all the revenue the county collects —mostly in fees and taxes — and distributes for county operations. That means keeping track of 190 different accounts, 34

Hutcherson says, and making sure that every one of those balances at the end of each day. It’s detailed and demanding work that requires as much mastery of federal, state and local laws as it does agility with numbers. Hutcherson’s office is in the basement of the most beautiful building in the county — the Romanesque brick Clark County Courthouse with its six-story clock tower in the center of Arkadelphia, built in 1899 and designed by Charles Thompson, that era’s most famous architect in the South. “I just love this job,” Hutcherson said in her signature alto voice, her eyes crinkling into her just-as-customary smile as she speaks of the career niche she found quite by accident in life. “When I walk into this court house every day, I look up and just stand in awe. And I think how everything I do is for the good of the people who elected me.” She attributes her zest for public service to her father, a Baptist minister who grew up in Northwest Arkansas and for most of her growing-up years was a U.S. Army chaplain. That meant moving often — to Europe several times, but also to New Orleans and Houston and Fort Smith so he could pursue his studies in history, English and Latin and one day teach in the Bible COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015

AAC B oard

P rofile

Opposite: Clark County Treasurer Judy Beth Hutcherson was first elected to office in 1997. She has a basement office in the historic Clark County Courthouse. Top Left: Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson swears Hutcherson in as president of AAC’s board of directors. Top Right: Hutcherson presides over her first AAC board meeting in April. Seated next to her is AAC Board Vice President Debbie Wise, Randolph County Circuit Clerk. college in Dallas. Adapting to new situations and opportunities So, yes, she wore combat boots and learned to shoot an M-16, was just part of the family life he lived and fostered. and even pilot an airplane on those weekend-a-month exercises She was the second oldest of his five children and his only for eight years. The experience satisfied her bent for adventure daughter. He was a man of remarkable energy who milked cows as has riding a BMW motorcycle with her forester husband Elevery morning before class to pay for his undergraduate degree ven on every road in Arkansas, mudding in their Jeep a long at Ouachita Baptist University. And wherever they lived, he al- time ago, and climbing the USTA tennis ladder the 10 years she most always preached on the side — and tithed —in small, stayed out of the workplace to “spoil her new husband and raise their children,” she said. rural churches, black and white. But the 95th Division of the Re“He had an ability to reach out to serves — like deer camp, Guys & people, bring them in, make them Gals bass tournaments, the Cattlefeel as if they were a part,” she said of men’s Association gatherings, the I just love this job ... When I walk into her father. “He was a teaching minisDemocratic Committee, and the local ter, low-key, not hell, fire and brim- this courthouse every day, I look up and Lions and Rotary clubs, hallmarks of stone, and he rarely raised his voice. just . And I think how the connected life in a small Southern We thought of ourselves as a service town — ended up providing a base family. In fact all of my brothers everything I do is for the of community support for her that [eventually] joined the military — the became valuable when she decided who elected me. Air Force and Navy. I’m the only one to seek public office in this county of who followed Daddy’s footsteps into — Judy Beth Hutcherson 23,000 in the mid-1990s. the Army.” She never went to college, but she That might seem out of character Clark County Treasurer honed the skill sets she needed for the for this stylish woman with a penTreasurer’s job working in accounting chant for Chico’s clothes and jewfor Blue Cross Blue Shield, bookkeepelry that complements her perfectly ing in an Arkadelphia law office and coiffed, highlighted curls and the then in the appointed post of clerkSaturn Sky convertible with initialed treasurer for the city of Arkadelphia for 10 years. The work fit. tags. But her stint as a soldier is one of the first things she tells “But I always wanted to run for office,” she said. people about herself, how when she was a single mom after her divorce, she joined the nearby battalion of U.S. Army ReSee “HUTCHERSON” on Page 36 > > > serves to earn extra money.

stand in awe

the people


good of ”



Continued From Page 35


So when the county treasurer retired in 1996, she stepped enue, safety, authority, livability or stature. up. She had two opponents then but none since, but she takes But her style, Hutcherson predicts, will no doubt differ from nothing for granted, making appearances at everything from the steady guiding authority of Jacobs, whom she describes as fire department fund raisers to chamber luncheons and county a “giant, former Razorback linebacker” with a big presence fair cook-offs. She only rarely drags her husband along to these about him. Her first goal for herself is to attend a meeting of things, though; she’s the social butterfly of the two, she says. every association that is part of the AAC, introduce herself as “ I just like to be around people. I meet strangers, introduce their advocate, and hear their issues. myself, keep going. But then, I have a crazy personality. I’m a The recent legislative session, during which AAC lobbyists cut up. I admit,” Hutcherson said. made a big difference in measures to improve back-road conBaxter County Sheriff John Montgomery, a colleague on struction and jail overcrowding, among many other issues, the AAC board, sees that “crazy personality” as a strength. will provide fodder for conversation wherever she goes. So will “She has a style that is very present with people. She keeps Congress’s perpetual foot-dragging on providing adequate things light with humor and color,” he said. Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding for rural counties She also has a propensity to jump into the fray and soar to where federal lands undermine property tax revenue. the top of whatever she joins, like a users group of 57 coun“I want to bring people together, make them feel as if they are ties that all employ part of what we are the same software doing,” she said. “I and, of course, probably get that the Association of from my dad.” I want to , make them feel as if County Treasurers. Expect her to She was vice have fun, too, this of what we are doing. I probaby get that from my dad. president there five county treasurer years ago when a who, just to stay — Judy Beth Hutcherson division developed visible everywhere Clark County Treasurer among the 75 treashe goes, hands surers and then out million dollar the president lost bills picturing her reelection to her seat back home. So Hutcherson ran for and county courthouse on one side and her contact information won the presidency, then knit the group back together again. on the other — then lets out a hearty laugh with the takers. The presidency put her on the AAC board, comprised of two “She’s a hoot, very smart, very well qualified and very perleaders from each association of elected county officeholders sonable,” said former AAC Board President Mike Jacobs, who statewide. became a justice of the peace after his county judgeship. “She And three years later those leaders, representing 600-plus will probably be the best president we ever had.” other elected county officials, have chosen her as their leader. Agreed Debra Buckner, treasurer of Pulaski County for 14 She is only just now getting her arms around all of the respon- years who has watched Hutcherson in various leadership roles sibilities, having run only one official board meeting since the over the years. February day when Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice “She’s so genuine. With all of the changes at the Capitol, a Courtney Hudson Goodson did the swearing-in honors. new governor, new legislators and new fights for power and But Hutcherson understands the board’s mandate: To unite influence, we will be tap dancing on a new dance floor. She the counties and engender their support of one another to be is the right point person — honest, gregarious, polite, knowlone voice for all when they are threatened by state or federal edgeable and sensitive to these winds of change. She’s absolegislation or directives that could undermine any of their rev- lutely the right president for right now.”

“ bring people together are a part

We want your news


they ”

Did an aspect of county government “make news” recently in your county? Did any of your county officials or staff get an award, appointment or pat on the back? Please let us know about it for the next edition of County Lines magazine. You can write up a couple of paragraphs about it, or if something ran in your local paper, call and ask them to forward the story to us. We encourage you or your newspaper to attach a good quality photo, too: e-mail csmith@arcounties.org.


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47th ANNUAL CONFERENCE Springdale, Holiday Inn August 5-7, 2015

47 Years



his year’s Annual Conference will be held at Northwest Arkansas Holiday Inn & Convention Center in Springdale. Enclosed is your registration form, which once completed, will need to be sent back to the AAC office in Little Rock. Also enclosed is hotel information for the conference. The Holiday Inn and The Hampton are the host hotels, and there should be plenty of rooms available for our group. However, we have listed additional hotels in the area for your convenience. When making your room reservations, please remember to mention you are coming for the AAC Annual Conference. We are in the process of planning an informative and fun meeting for all attendees and will be getting out a tentative agenda later. For your planning information, registration will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, August 5. The Opening General Session will begin at 1 p.m. and individual association meetings will begin at 3:15 p.m. Our Southern Fish Fry will be at 7:30 p.m. As you can see above, the 2015 Conference theme is “Counties Getting In the Game.” The Dinner Dance will continue that game theme with:

“Game Night: Make Your Move”

We look forward to seeing you in Springdale! Registration information is also available online at www.arcounties.org



47th ANNUAL CONFERENCE Springdale, Holiday Inn August 5-7, 2015


Today! ASSOCIATION OF ARKANSAS COUNTIES 47th Annual Conference - Springdale

PRE-REGISTRATION Received Before 7/30/15 $125.00 officials, employees, guests $ 80.00 spouses $145.00 non-members

REGISTER ONLINE www.arcounties.org

ON-SITE REGISTRATION Received After 7/30/15 $145.00 officials, employees, guests $100.00 spouses $165.00 non-members

PLEASE FILL OUT A SEPARATE FORM FOR EACH REGISTRANT. YOU MAY COPY THIS FORM – INCOMPLETE FORMS WILL NOT BE PROCESSED. Return this completed sheet with your registration form if paying by credit card or you may call the AAC office in order to process payment. Credit Card Payment Sheet

Name of Registrant: Payment method (please select one) American Express


Master Card


Credit Card Number: CVV# Expiration Date:

Amount to be charged:

Cardholder’s Name: (as it appears on card)

Billing Address: City:



Telephone#: Authorized Signature: COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015

E-mail: 39

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he AAC Risk Management Fund is managed by a Board of Trustees comprised of YOUR county colleagues. As a fund member, YOU help develop the fund’s products that meet the needs of our unique and valued county resources and employees. Our latest added benefit came to fruition in a partnership with Guardian RFID inmate tracking systems. All AACRMF member counties will reap the benefits of this cutting-edge system.This unique tool exceeded the needs and met the concerns of many members in regards to the challenges in county jails. e listened and now we’re proud to welcome this product to the Risk Management Fund program, and we look forward to a continued partnership with all of you.



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Family & Friends

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Sheriffs, jail administrators focus on legislation in meeting

Top Left: Major Clayton Edwards, jail administrator in White County, listens to a speaker during a regional meeting geared toward informing county law enforcement officials about new legislation. Top Right: Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Ronnie Baldwin delivers opening remarks. Middle: Major John Randall with the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office attended the meeting. Bottom Left: Matthew Glass, president of Fidelity Insurance Group, discusses inmates and health insurance. Bottom Right: Attorney Mike Rainwater adds additional information about health insurance concerns as they relate to inmates.




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AAC Safety Conference draws 73 participants

Top Left: AAC’s Risk Management Services hosts an annual conference focusing on safety in the workplace. Top Right: Pat Hart of the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission speaks about the benefits of a written safety plan. Middle Left: Phillip Hyatt, shop foreman for Woodruff County, and Scott McDonald, road department foreman for Woodruff County attended the safety conference. Middle Right: AAC Executive Director Chris Villines delivers opening remarks to the participants. Bottom Right: Loss Control Specialist Barry Burkett introduces the first speaker of the day. 42



Family & Friends

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AAQC gets legislative update, elects officers

Right: The annual meeting of the Arkansas Association of Quorum Courts (AAQC), the 75-member statewide body comprised of one justice of the peace from each county, took place April 18 at AAC headquarters. Drew County Justice of the Peace Carole Bulloch addresses the group. Middle Left: Attorney Mike Rainwater was among several speakers at the meeting, the agenda of which focused on legislative issues as well as quorum court regulations. Other speakers included AAC’s Chris Villines, Jonathan Greer and Scott Perkins. Middle Right: Beth Walker with the state Attorney General’s office spoke to the association about the Freedom of Information Act. Bottom: Justices of the Peace listen to the speakers. In other business, the group elected officers and representatives for the four U.S. congressional districts.

Register today

AAC’s 47th Annual Conference will be held Aug. 5-7 at the Northwest Arkansas Holiday Inn & Convention Center in Springdale. Go to www.arcounties.org. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015



Family & Friends

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Counterfeit money a topic on collectors’ agenda

Top Left: Arkansas County Tax Collectors Association President and Columbia County Tax Collector Cindy Walker introduces a speaker during the association’s April continuing education conference in Little Rock. Top Right: Ouachita County Chief Deputy Collector Edith Williams and Dallas County Collector Brenda Black board a bus that will take the group to the Pulaski County Disaster Recovery Center in North Little Rock. Middle Left: Ron Jones, delinquent tax collections manager for Pulaski County, looks at an example of counterfeit money. Bottom Left: Brian T. Marr, special agent in charge, U.S. Secret Service, Little Rock Field Office, speaks to the group about trends in counterfeiting. Bottom Right: Those attending the conference listen intently to the counterfeiting presentation. They asked several questions, including questions about identity and credit card theft.




Family & Friends

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Assessors hold meeting in North Little Rock The Arkansas Assessment Coordination Division held its Spring 2015 continuing education meeting March 25-27 at the Wyndham Riverfront in North Little Rock. In addition to hearing presentations on a number of topics, county assessors made a trip to the state Capitol to visit with legislators. They also enjoyed dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. Top Left: Faulkner County Assessor Angela Hill and Polk County Assessor Jovan Thomas pose for a photo before dinner. Top Right: Columbia County Assessor Sandra Cawyer and her daughter, Misty Byrd, pose for a photo. Middle Left: Chicot County Assessor Joe Dan Yee talks with other assessors and Hardie Reynolds of Total Assessment Solutions Corp. Middle Right: Pictured are Pike County Assessor Beckie Alden, Hardie Reynolds of Total Assessment Solutions Corp and Miller County Assessor Mary Stuart. Photos by Alvin Taggart/Total Assessment Solutions Corporation COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015

Bottom Left: Poinsett County Assessor Johnny Rye prepares to enjoy a steak dinner at The Riverfront Steakhouse. 45


Family & Friends

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County Clerks advocate at Capitol during session

Top: County clerks held their winter continuing education meeting in Little Rock March 25-27. The agenda included a visit to the state Capitol, where they attended committee meetings and a session of the House of Representatives. Bottom Left: Faulkner County Clerk Margaret Darter and Benton County Chief Deputy Clerk Betsy Harrell applaud after singing Happy Birthday to Drew County Clerk Lyna Gulledge. Bottom Right: Drew County Clerk Lyna Gulledge and Polk County Clerk Terri Harrison laugh after the group sang the Happy Birthday song to Gulledge.




Family & Friends

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‘Seasoned’ treasurers offer ideas to new counterparts

The treasurers’ winter meeting in Little Rock kicked off on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, with a “New Elect Treasurers Meet and Greet,” where first-time treasurers were encouraged to ask questions, express concerns and share ideas. Top Left: Prairie County Treasurer Judy Burnett and Pulaski County Treasurer/ Collector Debra Buckner show off their green for St. Patrick’s Day. Middle Left: New treasurers Gayla Daugherty-Teague of Lafayette County and Selena Blair of Columbia County chat with Hempstead County Treasurer Judy Lee Flowers. Middle Right: Garland County Treasurer Tim Stockdale and Miller County Treasurer Danny Lewis stop at the Treasurer of State’s booth before the meet and greet. Bottom Left: Faulkner County Treasurer Scott Sanson asks a question. Bottom Right: AAC consultant Eddie Jones offers some words of advice.




Family & Friends

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Circuit Clerks go to the Hill during their winter meeting Top: During their winter meeting, held Feb. 1012, county circuit clerks representing 41 counties headed to the state Capitol to show support for HB1053, sponsored by Rep. Charlene Fite. The bill, which passed the House but failed in the Senate, would have required mortgage holders to register all mortgage reassignments and releases with county offices. Middle Left: State Rep. Charlene Fite, whose district includes portions of Crawford and Washington counties, poses for a photo with Saline County Circuit Clerk Myka Bono Sample. Middle Right: Benton County Circuit Clerk Brenda DeShields testifies for HB1053 during a House committee meeting. The bill received a “do pass” recommendation from the committee, and it passed with 83 “yea” votes in the House. Bottom Left: The circuit clerks’ meeting took place at AAC headquarters, and the program featured several speakers. Crawford County Chief Deputy Circuit Clerk Pam Neel listens to one of those speakers before the group headed to the state Capitol. Bottom Right: Perry County Circuit/County Clerk Persundra Hood listens to a speaker and takes notes during the presentation. 48


The Association of Arkansas Counties Working for county officials toward the common goal of effective county government...


id you know that counties are subdivisions of Arkansas state government? As such, our county and district elected officials and staffs are like gears in a large and complex engine. AAC’s goal is to keep that engine welloiled and finely-tuned by providing a broad array of:

• Legislative Representation • Education and Training • General Assistance and Research • Publications & Public Information • Protection Options: AAC Risk Management & Worker’s Compensation Programs AAC serves as the official voice of county gov-

ernment at the state Capitol, and serves as the Our Mission The Association of Arkansas Counties supports and promotes the idea that all elected officials must have the opportunity to act together in order to solve mutual problems as a unified group. To further this goal, the Association of Arkansas Counties is committed to providing a single source of cooperative support and information for all counties and county and district


official spokesperson and liaison of Arkansas counties in dealing with state and federal agencies. The key to the stability and development of county government is in presenting a unified voice to other levels of government. There is much truth in the adage, “There is strength in unity.” The Association of Arkansas Counties provides training and assistance in solving problems and in developing “best” practices. AAC produces numerous publications to help county officials with both simple and technical questions, so they can get needed answers without having to reinvent the wheel. This information is available through numerous training workshops, helpful brochures and directories, County Lines magazine, and online at the website: www.arcounties.org

officials. The overall purpose of the Association of Arkansas Counties is to work for the improvement of county government in the state of Arkansas. The Association accomplishes this purpose by providing legislative representation, on-site assistance, general research, training, various publications and conferences to assist county officials in carrying out the duties and responsibilities of their office.

Chris Villines Executive Director


Family & Friends

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Judges host governor, meet with legislators The County Judges’ Association of Arkansas Winter meeting in North Little Rock kicked off with a meet and greet dinner on Sunday, Feb. 8. The agenda for the next two days was action packed, with continuing education sessions on topics such as workplace security and federal disaster recovery. Gov. Asa Hutchinson lunched with the judges on Monday, Feb. 9, and introduced his prison plan. Judges took part in a legislative appreciation reception at AAC headquarters that evening. Top Right: Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlines his prison plan to the judges, saying that he planned to ask legislators to address jail overcrowding during the 90th General Assembly. Middle Left: Jackson County Judge Jeff Phillips poses for a photo with AAC Member Benefits Manager Becky Comet. Middle Right: Kristie Hill, wife of Craighead County Judge Ed Hill, listens as other spouses introduce themselves during a “What to Expect as the Wife of a County Judge” meeting. Bottom Left: State Rep. Betty Overbey and her husband, George Overbey, state Rep. Sheilla Lampkin and White County Judge Michael Lincoln pose for a photograph at the start of the legislative appreciation reception at AAC headquarters. Bottom Right: Arkansas Department of Emergency Management Director David Maxwell and state Rep. Lanny Fite visit during the legislative reception.





Association of Arkansas Counties Workers’ Compensation Trust

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hen you participate in the A A C Wo r k e r s ’ C o m p e n s a tio n Tru s t, you can relax in the hands of professional staff members who are going to take care of your needs. The AAC team has decades of experience in handling county government claims – t h e y ’ r e s i m p l y t h e b e s t a t w h a t t h e y d o ! Did we mention that participants in our plan are accustomed to getting money back? Since we started paying dividends in 1997, the AAC Workers’ Compensation Trust has declared almost $ 2 5 MI L L I O N dollars in dividends, payable to members of the fund. In fact, we mailed $1,000,000 in savings back to member counties in August 2014.

The service is available for any size county government and other county government-related entities. We’ve got you

c ov e r e d!

Members enjoy dividends! $25 Million paid since 1997

We’ve got you

Experienced & licensed examiners

covered Brandy McAllister

Debbie Norman

Debbie Lakey

Kim Nash

Renee Turner

Barry Burkett

Kim Mitchell

Elizabeth Sullivan

Risk Management &

Claims Manager

Claims Examiner

Loss Control

Admin. Assistant

Admin. Assistant

RMS Counsel

Insurance Director


Claims Adjuster








1415 West Third Street • Little Rock, Arkansas 72201


Family & Friends

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WORKERS COMP CLAIMS ANALYST — RILEY GROOVER Family information: My family consists of my fiancée Brooke and my loveable little bundle of joy, Baxter, who is a Terrier mix that I adopted three years ago. My favorite meal: My mother’s Poppy Seed Chicken. When I’m not working I’m: Trying to find an Arkansas lake or river to put my kayak in and go fishing. The accomplishment of which I am most proud: Finding a significant other who is willing to put up with me for the rest of her life.

You might be surprised to learn that: I worked one summer as a stage hand. I helped put on shows for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Little Big Town and other artists. My pet peeve is: People who don’t pick up after their dogs. It’s just wrong. Motto or favorite quote: “I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar.” — Wash from Firefly

Riley G roover

The hardest thing I have ever done: Pulling a U-Haul and moving half way across the country. Twice.

At the top of my bucket list is to: Visit all 50 states


and all seven continents. So far I’ve been to 29 states but have never left the U.S. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

How long have you been at AAC? Two months. What do you like most about your position at AAC? The people and the atmosphere. Everyone here has just been so warm and welcoming.



Family & Friends

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About NACo – The Voice of America’s Counties


National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the U.S. NACo provides essential services to the nation’s 3,068 counties. NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public’s understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money.

• examining service capacity and suite of products from the EPA that policy, and funding barriers to since 1992 has helped reduce energy adding to that capacity and water demands in residential and commercial buildings. Each year, the • developing a plan to get those program saves more than $9 billion in services to more people who energy costs, and prevents nearly 135 need them million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. County-owned buildings • implementing research-based ap- of all sizes and ages including court proaches that advance the plans houses, office buildings fire stations can benefit from using ENERGY • and developing program evalua­ STAR tools. tion processes. The Portfolio Manager tool is a free online tool that enables counties to track A national summit, planned for Spring their energy and water consumption as 2016 in Washington, D.C., will gather well as greenhouse gas emissions. By counties that have signed the call to setting benchmarks, counties can comaction and consist of activities to help pare current data for one building or advance their plans. Attendees will an entire suite with past performance, form the core group of counties that and can also see how their energy and will lead others in the effort. water usage compares to similar buildTechniques to accomplish this goal, ings throughout the country. will include law enforcement train- To read the report, go to www.naco.org/ ing, changing funding mechanisms for newsroom and click on Publications. mental and behavioral health, and increased collaboration between state and Registration is open for NACo’s 80th local leaders, all adding up to systemic Annual Conference changes in the approach the criminal NACo’s 80th Annual Conference and justice system takes in interact­ing with Exposition provides an opportunity people with mental illness. for all county leaders and staff to learn, network and guide the direction of the NACo releases report on county en- association. The Annual Conference, ergy savings and emissions reduction held each July, is hosted by a NACo By Coleman Davis member county. NACo has released a new report, This year, the conference will be held ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager: July 10-13 in Mecklenburg County, Tracking County Energy Savings and (Charlotte) North Carolina. The AnEmissions Reductions. The report nual Conference provides county offiexplores how NACo is helping 97 cials with a great opportunity to vote counties track energy and water con- on NACo’s policies related to federal sumption for more than 2,079 coun- legislation and regulation; elect ofty-owned buildings using the U.S. ficers; network with colleagues; learn Environmental Protection Agency’s about innovative county programs; • assembling a diverse group of lead- ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. find out about issues impacting couners from involved agencies It also highlights the benefits counties ties across the country; and view prodhave seen using the tool, including re- ucts and services from participating • assessing needs based on the prev- duced greenhouse gas emissions and companies and exhibitors. alence of inmates with mental ill- energy usage. Go to www.naco.org and click on the ness in a county’s jail The ENERGY STAR program is a free events tab for registration information. New campaign will focus on keeping mentally ill out of jail By Charlie Ban NACo will partner with the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Foundation to lead Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails. The initiative kicked off May 5. “Counties are working to reduce the number of people with behav­ ioral health and substance abuse needs in jails across the country,” said NACo Executive Director Matt Chase. “This cutting-edge initiative will help counties focus on results and take their efforts to the next level. It will support action-oriented, comprehensive strategies to provide needed services in appropriate settings.” The prevalence of mental illness in jails is now three-to-six times higher than in the gen­eral population. Currently, people with mental illnesses number more than 2 million in jails. And counties are spending more for mental health services in jails and getting worse results than communitybased programs. Lack of appropriate care means longer jail stays, higher bills for counties and a higher likelihood of recidivism. The initiative will convene representatives from organizations involved in the issue, including county sheriffs, judges, jail admin­istrators, treatment providers, and mental health and substance abuse counselors. Stepping Up’s “call to action” will involve counties passing resolutions committing to the following:




Family & Friends

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Continued From Page 30


The state auditor’s office provides con- Arkansas’ 75 counties had unclaimed vertising. Rather, the auditor will now tinuing education for several county elect- property on the books. publish a notice in newspapers directing ed official groups. It also reimburses those Lea said she realized county offi- people to the Great Treasure Hunt web county elected officials for expenses relat- cials are busy and don’t have the time site. However, a list of people with uned to their continuing education efforts. to search records on the state Auditor’s claimed property also must be posted at Lea said that during her campaign she web site. So her staff filled out claim every county courthouse in the state. visited courthouses around the state, forms for the 63 counties, and mailed “I need to visit with judges about the gathering ideas and input for ways to them out for signatures. easiest way for me to get the information improve county to them. Do they outreach. Many want it on a USB complained that [drive] that they ea will be contacting county judges soon regardthey weren’t being can upload to their reimbursed quickweb site ... Do they ly enough. Once ing Act 592, which came out of the 90th General want a hard copy,” elected, Lea set Lea said. “And, of about improving course, I want to Assembly. A list of Arkansans with unclaimed property the process. make it easier for “They gave me people who aren’t some suggestions must be posted at every courthouse in the state. as computer savvy. on streamlining, Plenty of people go and I took those to the courthouse suggestions and imto look through the plemented them. Several of the [county] “All they had to do was sign it and mail properties that are being turned over.” clerks, especially, and the treasurers and it back. It’s just another way I am trying And Lea said she has a great appreciacollectors have contacted me and said, to connect,” Lea said, noting that 40 of tion for courthouse culture. ‘Wow you took those to heart, and we’re the counties she contacted have returned “The courthouse culture is just fun,” seeing a difference.’ That made me hap- their forms and received payment. py,” Lea said. Lea will be contacting county judges she said. “It really is the hub of politics Lea also made it a priority to return soon regarding Act 592, which came out in a county. And not just politics but a unclaimed property to counties. She of the 90th Arkansas General Assembly. lot of community stuff. Think about all had her staff go through the unclaimed The measure no longer requires the audi- the reasons people go to the courthouse property records and identify the coun- tor’s office to publish in newspapers the — to get their marriage licenses, to get ties that had unclaimed property owed names of people with unclaimed prop- any other document … I mean, it really to them. The search revealed that 63 of erty — a list that took up pages of ad- is a fun hub.”


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Articles inside

Circuit Clerks get a taste of state processes article cover image

Circuit Clerks get a taste of state processes

pages 48-49
AAC staff profile: Riley Groover article cover image

AAC staff profile: Riley Groover

pages 52-56
Judges host governor during winter meeting article cover image

Judges host governor during winter meeting

pages 50-51
New treasurers ask questions during meet and greet article cover image

New treasurers ask questions during meet and greet

page 47
County Clerks visit state Capitol during session article cover image

County Clerks visit state Capitol during session

page 46
Arkansas County has history of dual seats article cover image

Arkansas County has history of dual seats

pages 26-40
Quorum Court Association holds annual meeting article cover image

Quorum Court Association holds annual meeting

page 43
AAC Safety Conference draws 73 article cover image

AAC Safety Conference draws 73

page 42
Assessors gather in North Little Rock article cover image

Assessors gather in North Little Rock

page 45
Collectors discuss counterfeit money article cover image

Collectors discuss counterfeit money

page 44
Sheriffs, jail administrators review legislation article cover image

Sheriffs, jail administrators review legislation

page 41
Seems to Me article cover image

Seems to Me

pages 22-25
Legislative Lines article cover image

Legislative Lines

pages 20-21
Research Corner article cover image

Research Corner

pages 16-19
President›s Perspective article cover image

President›s Perspective

pages 9-10
Savings Times 2 article cover image

Savings Times 2

page 15
County Law Update article cover image

County Law Update

page 14
From the Governor article cover image

From the Governor

page 13
Legal Corner article cover image

Legal Corner

page 12
From the Director’s Desk article cover image

From the Director’s Desk

page 7
AAC Board honors Bear Chaney for service article cover image

AAC Board honors Bear Chaney for service

page 8