The Official Publication of the Association of Arkansas Counties Summer 2022
Lines AAC Conference Recap Page 30
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In this issue of County Lines, we of fer a recap of the AAC’s 23rd Annual Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament and the 54th Annual Conference, which had a beach theme this year. Turn to page 30.
Top left: Golfers prepare to begin the tournament. Top right: Baxter County Sheriff and AAC Board Member John Montgomery, Pulaski County Treasurer/ Collector and AAC Board Member Debra Buckner, AAC Executive Director Chris Villines, and Randolph County Circuit Clerk and AAC Board President Deb bie Wise pose for a photo. Bottom left: Pictured are Lee County Justice of the Peace Victoria Perry and Lincoln County Justice of the Peace David Rochell. Bottom right: Pictured are Perry County Treasurer Jan Moore and Pike County Treasurer Loletia Rather. Photos by Caitlin Brown and Christy L. Smith
COVER STORY AAC Conference Recap...................................................................30 Features AAC Announces 2022 Scholarship Recipients...........................26 Benton County Circuit Clerk receives Wes Fowler Award..........28 AAC Board Profile: Selena Blair......................................................40 AAC Staff Profile: James Mirus.....................................................41 AAC Staff Profile: Aaron Newell.....................................................41 AAC Staff Profile: Mallory Floyd.....................................................42 AAC Staff Profile: Dillon Cordell.....................................................42 AAC Photo Recap: County Clerks..................................................44 AAC Photo Recap: County Treasurers.......................................45 AAC Photo Recap: County Judges.................................................46 AAC Photo Recap: County Assessors.............................................47 AAC Photo Recap: County Circuit Clerks....................................48 AAC Photo Recap: County Collectors...........................................49 AAC Photo Recap: County Sheriffs............................................50 Departments From the Director’s Desk...................................................................7 President’s Perspective.....................................................................9 From the Governor............................................................................11 AG Opinions ........................13 AAC Research Corner.......................................................................14 Seems to Me..................................................................................... 16 Governmental Affairs......................................................................19 Legal Corner................ .......21 Litigation Lessons............................................................................23 News from NACo...............................................................................54 In This Issue SUMMER 2022 Cover Notes: Riding the Waves of Change (Photos by Caitlin Brown and Christy L. Smith)
COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022 5
Sept. 26-28 Clerks Folk Center, View Clerks Suites,
AAC Mission Statement
The Association of Arkansas Coun ties 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 Associa tion of Arkansas Counties is committed to providing a single source of coopera tive support and information for all coun ties and county and district officials.
The overall purpose of the Associa tion 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 assis tance, general research, training, various publications and conferences to assist county officials in carrying out the du ties and responsibilities of their office. Nov. 27-29 Collectors North Little Rock 15-18 Assessors Suites, Jonesboro
JaNan Thomas, Litigation
Oct. 12-14 Circuit
Jonesboro Oct. 24-25 Coroners Wyndham, North Little Rock Calendar activities also are posted on our website: www.arcounties.org Chris Villines, Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org Anne Baker, Executive Assistant email@example.com Loretta Green, Receptionist firstname.lastname@example.org Eddie A. Jones, Consultant email@example.com Mark Whitmore, Chief Legal Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org Josh Curtis, Governmental Affairs Director email@example.com Lindsey French, Legal Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org Christy L. Smith, Communications Director email@example.com Caitlin Brown, Communications Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org Karan Skarda, ACE Program Coordinator email@example.com Cindy Posey, Accountant firstname.lastname@example.org Contact AAC 1415 West Third Street Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 372-7550 phone / (501) 372-0611 fax www.arcounties.org
Evans, Accounting & Program Assistant email@example.com Mark Harrell, IT Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Risk Management/ Workers’ Compensation Debbie Norman, Risk Mgmt. & Insurance Director email@example.com Debbie Lakey, Workers’ Comp Claims Mgr. firstname.lastname@example.org Cathy Perry, Program Analyst email@example.com Kim Nash, Workers’ Comp Claims Adjuster firstname.lastname@example.org Renee Turner,Workers’ Comp Claims Adjuster email@example.com
Groover, Claims Analyst firstname.lastname@example.org
Hunt, Claims Analyst email@example.com
Mitchell, Premium Analyst firstname.lastname@example.org
Bell, Program Assistant email@example.com
Wood, Admin. Asst./Receptionist firstname.lastname@example.org
RMS Counsel email@example.com
RMS Litigation Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org
Dugger, RMS Litigation Counsel email@example.com
Newell, RMS Litigation Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org
Floyd, RMS Employment Counsel email@example.com
RMS Paralegal firstname.lastname@example.org
RMS Paralegal email@example.com
RMS Paralegal firstname.lastname@example.org
Member Services Manager email@example.com 6 COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022
County Lines [(ISSN 2576-1137 (print) and ISSN 2576-1145 (online)] is the official publication of the AAC. It is published quarterly. For advertising inqui ries, subscriptions or other information, please contact Christy L. Smith at 501.372.7550.
Chris Villines Communications Director/ Managing Editor
Christy L. Smith Communications Coordinator/ Editor
AAC Executive Board: Debbie Wise – President
Brandon Ellison – Vice President
Jimmy Hart – Secretary-Treasurer
Tommy Young Deanna Sivley
Debra Buckner Dana Baker
Kevin Cleghorn Terry McNatt
Ellen Foote Doug Curtis
Gerone Hobbs Marty Boyd
John Montgomery Heather Stevens
Brenda DeShields Selena Blair
National Association of Counties (NACo) Board Affiliations
Debbie Wise: NACo board member. She is Randolph County Circuit Clerk and presi dent of the AAC Board of Directors.
Brandon Ellison: NACo board member. He is Polk County Judge and vice-president of the AAC Board of Directors.
Ted Harden: Finance & Intergovernmental Af fairs Steering Committee. He is a member of the Jefferson County Quorum Court.
David Hudson: He is Sebastian Co. Judge and mem ber of Rural Action Caucus Steering Committee and IT Standing Committee.
Barry Hyde: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is the Pulaski County Judge.
Rusty McMillon: Justice and Public Safety Steer ing Committee. He is Greene County Judge
Joseph Wood: Community, Economic and Workforce Development Steering Commit tee. He is Washington County Judge.
Kevin Smith: IT Standing Committee. He is the Sebastian County Director of Information Technology Services.
Gerone Hobbs: Membership Committee. He is the Pulaski County Coroner.
Paul Elliott: Vice-Chair of Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee, vice-chair of law enforce ment subcommittee. He is a member of the Pulaski County Quorum Court.
Ellen Foote: Community, Economic & Work force Development Steering Committee. She is the Crittenden County Tax Collector.
Tawanna Brown:Telecommunications & Technol ogy Steering Committee. She is Crittenden County Chief Computer Operator.
Welcome and teach new officials coming into the fold
As we turn the corner to the end of our year, there is much attention given at the AAC to two main things. Firstly, a legislative session is soon to come, and we are working hard to prepare our legislative package based on each of your associations’ offer ings. And secondly, we are witnessing and participating in the ritual of elected officials retiring and new ones coming in.
For the first time we are approaching the end of four-year terms in office. This obviously means that the turnover is approaching double of what our historic twoyear turnovers have been. In some of our associations nearly half of the elected of ficials are moving on. The loss of institutional knowledge is going to be profound and here at the AAC we recognize this and will be giving great effort to help train new elected officials.
What we ask from those of you retiring is that you please stay in touch with your replacements, offer guidance when asked, and encourage them to stay in contact with the AAC team should they have any questions. We will do our best to indoc trinate them into county government at our new-elects training in December, but nothing helps like that lifeline to you or to their counterparts in adjoining counties.
For those of you staying around, welcome back! We look forward to continuing to work with you and together make county government better than ever. And get ready for a lot of new faces at association meetings next year where each group will welcome its largest new class ever.
Those of you who are transitioning to retirement on January 1, we hope you enjoy a hard-earned reward for your service to your constituents. In my opinion, you’ve braved some of the most difficult times to ever serve in public office. Covid has been extremely hard to maneuver through. Managing an office staff during a time when all the normal rules were thrown out the window has been amazingly hard.
In addition, some of the respect for public servants has eroded over the past de cade or two as a vitriolic tenor in federal politics has spilled down to state and local levels. You deserve better than that and true civil communication begins and is rooted in local service. Your calm voices are important to us who continue in local government, and we hope you will lead in your communities to impart dialogue with respect and civility, though not from the public office you once served.
The good news for retirees is that there are some great perks for you. As we wish you well into your new season of life consider the following great aspects of reach ing retirement:
1. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.
2. In a hostage situation, you are likely to be released first.
3. No one expects you to run — anywhere.
4. People call at 9 p.m. and ask, “Did I wake you?”
5. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.
6. There is nothing left to learn “the hard way.”
7. Things you buy now won’t wear out.
8. You can eat dinner at 4 p.m.
Chris Villines AAC Executive Director
>>> COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022 7
9. You cannot live without your glasses.
10. You enjoy hearing about other people’s operations.
11. You get into heated arguments about pension plans and social security.
12. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.
13. You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks into the room.
14. You sing along with elevator music.
15. Your eyes won’t get much worse.
16. Your investment in health insurance is finally begin ning to pay off.
17. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the National Weather Service.
18. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them either.
19. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manage able size. And,
20. You won’t remember where you saw this list.
As I wrote that, I saw laughing faces of many of you who have become great friends over my 24 years of service in county government. I will miss you. We have been in the trenches together and emerged tired yet stronger because of these battles.
I am proud to have served alongside you all and will miss
walking into your next association meetings and not seeing your faces. You have all taught me and all of us at the AAC along the way, and we wish you the best and hope that your retired life offers the chance to do whatever it is that you always wanted to do but didn’t get to.
As you know, our partnership with the Arkansas Municipal League has strengthened even more with the recent an nouncement of the Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership (AORP) and the hiring of State Drug Director Kirk Lane to oversee the utilization of county and city opioid settlement dollars. More can be found on this strategic and historic move in Colin Jorgensen’s article in this issue of County Lines.
The AAC Board of Directors has been instrumental in having the foresight to move ahead even before the settle ment dollars arrive. This way we can develop a plan to wisely and strategically empower local government to fix a problem that has plagued us for too long. More will be coming on this but suffice it to say that we could not be better positioned. Thank you all for believing in us and trusting the AAC to fight this battle in a way that will yield meaningful results — and at a local level.
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An overview of the 54th conference
Another successful AAC Annual Conference is in the books. I was pleased to see our attendance back up to about 850 this year, and I thought the theme — County Resilience: Riding the Waves of Change — was appropriate. We have seen much change in the last three years, but we also have proved our resilience in the face of new challenges — and overcoming challenges makes us stronger in the end.
Those who attended were able to hear from many distin guished speakers: Congressman Bruce Westerman; NACo 1st Vice President Mary Jo McGuire of Ramsey County, Min nesota; Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who presented via Zoom due to the special legislative session; Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Dr. Chris Jones, who appeared by video; and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Each of the nine associations under the AAC umbrella met, and many of them discussed and finalized the leg islative packages they will submit to the AAC Board and Legislative Committee for review. Jail Track Training was once again offered by the AAC RMF staff, and breakout sessions focused on heavy topics, such as Infrastructure, Ac tive Shooters and Volatile Persons Awareness, Dealing with Difficult People, and more.
The AAC Executive Director and I had the privilege of handing out several awards. During our Tuesday night AAC Board meeting, we honored retiring Greene County Trea surer and longtime AAC Board member Debbie Cross with a Diamond Award for her service. We also honored Arkansas Municipal League (ARML) Executive Director Mark Hayes and ARML Legal Counsel John Wilkerson with Diamond Awards in appreciation of their partnership with counties and the state to seek a settlement from opioid manufacturers.
This year’s AAC scholarship recipients were recognized, as were several of our ArkTRECS participants. ArkTRECS
is a program the AAC and NACo has collaborated on to help our county officials collect certain outstanding debts. If this program sounds interesting to you, please contact Lindsey French at the AAC for more information.
Thank you to all our exhibitors and sponsors. We had 97 exhibitors and sponsors this year. Without you, our conference would not be pos sible. I appreciate your continued support of county govern ment more than I can say.
In this issue of County Lines magazine, you will see highlights from the 54th Annual Conference, starting on page 26 with our annual AAC scholarship winners. On page 28, you’ll read about this year’s 2022 Wes Fowler Advocacy Award. It was my immense pleasure to recognize fellow Circuit Clerk and AAC Board Member Brenda DeShields of Benton County with this award.
On the pages that follow, you can relive the conference and the annual Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Golf Tourna ment through photos.
If you couldn’t join us for conference this year, please con sider attending next year. The 55th Annual Conference will be held August 9-11, 2023, at the Rogers Convention Center in Benton County. I look forward to seeing you all there.
We want to hear from YOU
Tell us your good news. Be sure to let us know if an aspect of county govern ment “made news” recently in your county. Or if your county officials or staff get an award, appointment or pat on the back. We want the whole state to know about your successes and accomplishments.
Contact Communications Director Christy L. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Randolph County Circuit Clerk / AAC Board President
AAC Board President; Randolph County Circuit Clerk PRESIDENT’S
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The Future of Tax B I L L I N G & C O L L E C T I O N S O L U T I O N S S E R V I C E S O F T W A R E S A T I S F A C T I O N E X P E C T M O R E Browser Based Full Credit Card Integration Fully Documented Multi payment Processing Unlimited History Public Inquiry Exportable Data Multiple Annual Updates gowithtaxpro.com email@example.com (501) 246 8060
Supporting fairness for states’ workers
I’dlike to talk about a proposed federal rule dealing with construction contracts and my efforts to lead the 17 other governors who oppose this executive order. Earlier this year, President Biden signed an execu tive order that requires Project Labor Agreements for federal construction projects. This action will require federal con struction contracts of $35 million or more to have a govern ment-mandated project labor agreement.
A project labor agreement is a collective bargaining agree ment with labor unions to establish the terms and conditions of employment for a specific construction project.
When a project labor agreement is required by govern ment agencies, this interferes with the current competition between union and non-union contractors. This executive order requirement will discriminate against local construction workers in favor of out-of-state union jobs for these federal contracts.
The federal government will decide who will work on a construction project and favors union over non-union construction companies. This is directly interfering with our workforce and the ability of Arkansas companies to receive these construction contracts.
A reduction in competition from some of the best union and non-union construction firms and workers in our state will exacerbate the construction industry’s skilled labor short age. It will delay projects and increase construction costs by an estimated 12 percent to 20 percent per project. These issues will result in fewer infrastructure improvements, less construction industry job creation, and higher costs to the
taxpayers. All of which I oppose.
In 2021, Arkansas had one of the lowest rates of union member ship in the nation at 3.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This proposed rule will put Arkansas at a disadvantage when utilizing our funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Labor unions have played an im portant role in our nation’s history. But I believe the govern ment’s role in business is to provide an avenue for success and not a roadblock. This rule will create a playing field that isn’t level because it provides an advantage to unionized compa nies.
Onerous regulations and red tape raise the cost of doing business and suppress economic vitality. The proposed rule from the Biden administration will hamper our state’s ability to efficiently and fully utilize federal funding.
I’m honored to have the support of 17 fellow governors from all corners of our nation as we seek to oppose this rule and support fairness for our states.
The Honorable Asa Hutchinson Governor of Arkansas
Hon. ASA HuTCHINSON
Governor of Arkansas
AAC FROM THE GOVERNOR
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From criminal justice coordinating committees to vacation leave for county law enforcement
AG OPINION NO. 2021-088
The AG was requested to determine whether a criminal justice coordinating committee created by county ordinance is subject to the open meetings provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Ark. Code § 25-19-106 provides, “Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, all meetings, formal or informal, special or regular, of the governing bodies of all municipalities, counties, townships, and school districts … supported wholly or in part by public funds or expending public funds, shall be public meetings. The AG did not address whether the FOIA applied to the subject criminal justice coordinating committee. The AG, however, did determine that Ark. Code § 14-14-109 was applicable and more specifically designed to address county-created entities like described in the subject request.
AG OPINION NO. 2022-013
The matter involved a volunteer fire department (VFD) and placing their dues on the property taxes as provided by Ark. Code § 14-20-108. The AG determined if the people in the district voted to affix their dues at a specific rate, then the people would have to vote to increase their dues. If the rates were set by the VFD board of directors and the voters merely ap proved to have their dues placed on their property taxes, then the board of directors may increase the dues without a vote of the people. The AG determined that the request was presum ably made concerning nonprofit VFD organized as associations or corporations. The board of directors were voted upon and accountable to the service area’s members. If the measure voted upon by the people had a specific rate, then only that rate may be applied until a vote to increase the rate is adopted.
AG OPINION NO. 2022-010
Under the law an offender with prior violent felonies is not
eligible for parole under Ark. Code § 16-93-609. In 2015, the General Assembly declared that for purposes of eligibility under Ark. Code § 16-93-609, residen tial burglary is considered a prior felony offense. It was inquired, for purposes of this act, is a residential burglary committed prior to the effective date of the Act considered to be a prior vio lent felony offense? Yes. The AG explained that an offender previously convicted of residential burglary that committed an additional felony offense on or after the effective date of the Act is not eligible for parole. (This makes it evident that the projections demonstrating the longstanding need for a 3,500 additional state prison beds, will necessarily need to be adjusted upward).
AG OPINION NO. 2022-011
Presently, Arkansas law provides city/municipal law enforcement officers three weeks of annual vacation leave. (See Ark. Code § 14-52-106). The AG was asked whether laws could be adopted by the General Assembly to provide for similar annual vacation leave for county law enforcement officers. The AG noted the provisions of Amendment 55 vesting the authority “to fix the number and compensation of deputies and county employees” with the quorum courts in Arkansas. Ark. Code § 14-14-805 merely reflects that consti tutional authority. The quorum courts may provide their law enforcement deputies and/or county employees three weeks of annual vacation leave such as is provided to city/municipal law enforcement officers. However, the AG determined, the General Assembly may not require it.
75 Counties - One Voice
Mark Whitmore Chief Legal Counsel
AAC AG OPINIONS
COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022 13
UnderAct 423 of 2017, “the Criminal Justice Ef ficiency and Safety Act,” the state of Arkansas established regional Crisis Stabilization Units (CSUs) that serve to provide individuals experi encing a behavioral health crisis access to mental health stabilization and detox services to avoid being booked into county jails. Diverting appropriate individuals to CSUs from jails is a legal and clinically appropriate manner of addressing the needs of a person with behavioral health issues. Upon arriving at a CSU, individuals are assessed, and treatment is initiated, including medication management if needed. The CSU also provides case management services such as assisting with application for insurance, including Medicaid, if the individual is uninsured; crisis referral for an independent assessment to facilitate enrollment in a Provider Led Arkansas Shared Sav ings Entity (PASSE) for those who are deemed to meet criteria for Serious Mental Illness; and referral for outpatient mental health, and substance use services housing. The CSU follows up with individuals regularly to ensure their ongoing compli ance with treatment referral and recommendations to reduce future law enforcement contacts. CSUs are certified through the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance as a freestanding Acute Crisis Unit (ACU).
During the initial study in support of Act 423 of 2017, the Council of State Governments recommended establishment of regional CSUs and possibly mobile crisis units. Arkansas has established four regional CSUs in Washington, Sebastian, Pulaski, and Craighead counties. These serve the most popu lated areas of the state. CSUs are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mobile crisis services are available through the 12 contracted Community Mental Health Centers. During the Arkansas Sheriffs Summer Convention at Rogers on June 6, 2022, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, champion of diversion and justice reinvestment, voiced support for a need to estab lish a regional CSU in South Arkansas. We’ve made unprec edented strides in diversion and behavioral health during Gov. Hutchinson’s administration.
Since the first CSU opened in 2018 in Sebastian County, the four CSUs combined have admitted more than 8,000 individuals. Law enforcement or any Arkansas citizen in crisis may use any of the state’s four CSUs. However, individuals are not currently transported to CSUs via emer gency transportation. Individuals in crisis anywhere in the state can be transported to CSUs by law enforcement, fam ily, or anyone concerned.
Freestanding CSUs, which may have up to 16 beds, must be certified as ACUs and provide stabi lization and referral services as a Medicaid enrolled provider. Certification as an ACU allows CSUs to be supported through Med icaid funding. Since Arkansas, through Medicaid Expansion, provides options for insuring most adults, CSUs may receive Medicaid funding retroactively for those individuals who ap ply for and meet the qualifications for Medicaid. Priority for admission to CSUs is given to law enforcement based on the unique diversionary role of the CSU.
Jordyn Nykaza Law Clerk
DHS previously implemented policy to all Arkansas Med icaid enrolled Outpatient Behavioral Health Agencies to open Medicaid reimbursable ACUs and has recently updated the policy to allow hospitals to open acute crisis beds for adults and children. This allows for provision of acute crisis services within local communities — including critical access hospitals in rural areas of the state — and provides options for hospi tal emergency rooms for individuals presenting with mental health and substance use crises. According to DHS, allowing rural hospitals to create acute crisis beds will allow for more robust use of existing hospitals and their operations. Also, cri sis beds within hospitals throughout Arkansas will allow for patients in crisis to access a crisis bed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This also alleviates the transportation barrier of ten encountered for freestanding CSUs. Local hospital crisis beds will improve access and allow for integrated discharge planning, benefits assistance, and follow-up appointments. As with a CSU, an individual can be referred by law enforcement or through a health care provider, or they may present to the emergency room for services. Currently there are no hospitals operating CSUs within a hospital setting, though this is al lowable based on changes to Medicaid policy and would be compliant with Act 423 of 2017.
Initially, we sought to keep up with Mississippi, which ini tially had eight regional CSUs in 2017. Now, Mississippi has 13 regional CSUs and 172 beds available. The hope is that this multi-faceted approach will offer better and more efficient ser vices to our citizenry regionally in Arkansas. Sheriffs want to see the success of these programs. From a sheriff’s perspective the primary goal of diversion is achieved. Diversion was the pri mary goal of the 2017 Act and the justice reinvestment. We do not want the ability to use a CSU as an ACU or these other
Behavioral Health in Arkansas: Where we have been and where we are heading
AAC RESEARCH CORNER
14 COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022
programs to adversely impact the number of beds and services available for diversion. Indeed, the hope is that this unique approach will result in better and more widespread services for Arkansans — and fewer mentally ill warehoused in county jails.
Under Arkansas law, individuals who have committed a crime and are suspected to have a mental disease or defect are ordered to DHS for evaluation for fitness and responsibility. Individuals who are evaluated and found to be unfit to stand trial may be ordered into DHS custody for restoration treat ment and detention, or they may be released to receive treat ment through the Forensic Outpatient Restoration Program. After receiving restoration treatment and education the unfit defendants are re-evaluated for fitness. The DHS Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services is responsible for the management of the forensic population including coor dination of restoration and treatment services for individuals who have been found unfit to stand trial.
The Arkansas State Hospital (ASH) is the state’s only statefunded acute psychiatric hospital with 200 beds— approxi mately 185 of which are allocated for adults and the rest al located for juveniles. Arkansas is ranked 46th in the United States in the number of state hospital beds per capita. Indi viduals experiencing acute psychiatric episodes and meeting criteria may be civilly committed to ASH, or individuals who meet acute psychiatric criteria undergoing restoration may be admitted to ASH for stabilization and restoration treatment. Because ASH is the only state-funded acute inpatient facility, there is always a waitlist for admission. There simply are not enough state hospital beds.
Arkansas also has acute inpatient facilities funded through private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid, as well as through state general revenue allocated to the 12 Community Mental Health Centers available for stabilization of acute psychiatric episodes. Individuals may be civilly committed to any appro priate facility for treatment and stabilization if they are unable to consent to treatment due to their mental disease.
During the 93rd General Assembly, Act 587 of 2021 was passed. It permits law enforcement to transport persons in crisis to sobering centers. Sobering centers may be associated with CSUs or ACUs but can also stand alone. These facilities provide recovery and recuperation for people who are experiencing the effects of alcohol. Although sobering centers are de signed for intoxicated persons, this is helpful for the mentally ill population because these individuals typically use alcohol to self-medicate. Individuals transported to a sobering center get recovery rather than being sent to a county jail. This is another option that provides recovery as opposed to cycling these in dividuals through overcrowded jails, as do CSUs and ACUs.
It is crucial that mentally ill individuals have access to behav ioral health care services and home and community supports
after release from ASH or another acute inpatient psychiatric facility to prevent them from relapsing.
In 2019, DHS transformed the behavioral health system by moving away from a medical treatment model for the treatment of individuals with Serious Mental Illness to a Home and Community Based Model. This new model allows Med icaid to pay, through the PASSEs, for home and communitybased services, including Therapeutic Communities, which provide treatment settings that provide supervision, support, and monitoring for individuals with the highest level of need. These Therapeutic Community settings offer a safe, secure op tion for individuals who do not meet the criteria for inpatient acute admission but need a secure setting to remain safely in the community. Facilities like Birch Tree Communities and Mid-South Health Systems offer step down programs, which allow individuals living with serious mental illness to recover in a safe, supported, and monitored environment. For most, this means reintegration into the community with home and community-based supports; for others, that means diversion from ASH to a more appropriate setting. DHS continues to work with providers to expand home and community-based services in the state to meet the needs of individuals with Seri ous Mental Illness.
DHS is working with the PASSEs to develop an enhanced care coordination process whereby individuals who are identi fied by DHS or by an individual PASSE will receive an en hanced level of care coordination. This includes professional clinical support with the goal of identifying home and com munity-based needs and coordinating care in an appropriate setting, which may be a Therapeutic Community or at home with intensive home and community-based services based on individual assessment needs. This system could provide diver sion from jail into community settings such as Therapeutic Communities. Through this system, the state hopes to allevi ate the strain placed on the legal system by early identification of those individuals at most risk due to a serious mental illness or intellectual disability. Through the continued development of capacity within the home and community-based provider network, individuals with Serious Mental Illness would work toward recovery and improved quality of life.
The Sheriffs are proactive advocates for the mentally ill in Arkansas. Mental illness is not a crime, and the mentally ill should be afforded treatment. It’s the duty of the state of Arkansas to provide for the treatment of the mentally ill by virtue of Article 19, § 19 of the Arkansas Constitution. We are a good-faith partner with the state of Arkansas. We have seen improvement in recent years in establishment of regional CSUs in Arkansas. We are hopeful that the approach being pursued by the state of Arkansas results in expanded diversion of the mentally ill away from our jails statewide.
AAC RESEARCH CORNER
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Why was anyone surprised by our current rate of inflation?
Iwastold that due to inflation the value of my opinion has dropped from 2 cents down to absolutely noth ing. But that’s not stopping me. I’m going to share my opinion on our current high inflation rate in the United States. It has been compared to the inflation of the late 1970s and early 1980s — but it’s nothing like the inflation of that era. I lived through that time, too. In fact I was elected to county office in 1980, so I remember those times well.
What is inflation? Inflation is when you pay $15 for the $10 haircut you used to get for $5 when you had hair. Ronald Reagan said, “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.” Inflation is like sin; every government denounces it yet every government practices it.
Why were we surprised when the U.S. inflation hit a 40year high earlier this year? Anyone who has had Econom ics 101 should have known and seen it coming down the tracks. Money is just another commodity, no different from oil, steel, beef, or pork bellies. Therefore money, like any other commodity, can rise and fall in price — depending on what? Yep, supply and demand. But because money is the one commodity that is universally accepted in exchange for every other commodity, we have a special term for a fall in the price of money; we call it “inflation.” As the price of money falls, the price of every other commodity goes the other direction — up.
In 2020 the United States was hit hard by the CoVid-19 pandemic. The United States government has pumped tril lions of dollars into the economy to help mitigate the effects of many businesses shutting down and others slowing down. The two largest federal appropriations were the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in early 2020 during the Republican Trump Administration; then the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March 2021 during the Democratic Biden Administration. In all there were four CoVid-19 supplemental appropriations made by Congress for a total of $4.5 trillion.
As is the norm for Congress, they either don’t do it or they overdo it. There is no happy medium. In this case they overdid it. They created a money glut and it has helped push up prices. Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winning econo mist, said “Create too much money and you get inflation.” We are witnessing the proof of that now.
And it’s not over either. Many local and state governments still have large amounts of this funding in their coffers that they will use over the next couple of years. This usage will be
a more gradual usage than the amounts that were awarded to individuals and to businesses for payroll. So, the inflation ary pressure will not be as great, but it will still exist to a lesser degree.
Inflation has been around as long as money itself. Here are just a few examples:
Eddie A. Jones County Consultant
• Inflation decimated the Roman Empire in the third century as the government leaders, unable to pay the bills, increasingly devalued the money system. The once valued silver denarius became a copper coin only thinly plated in silver. Roman merchants started de manding more and more denarii in exchange for goods as the coin’s inherent value declined.
• In the 16th century, as the gold and silver pouring into Spain from the New World caused a rapid rise in the European money supply compared to the production of goods and services, prices rose almost 400 percent.
• There was no inflation in the American colonies at that time for the simple reason that there was no organized money supply or money policy — just a hodgepodge of foreign coins; tobacco certificates; beaver and deer skins; and some paper money printed by the colonial governments. They even used wampum — small cylin drical beads traditionally made by Indians from shells, strung together, and used as money. Most trade was conducted on a barter basis.
• That all changed when the American Revolution began because the government had to find ways to finance the war. Having limited ability to borrow and levy taxes, they began printing money — “fiat money,” which is money only because the government says it is money. This paper money depreciated rapidly in value. Prices doubled in 1776 and doubled again in both 1777 and 1778 — and kept going up.
• The need to deal with the massive debts incurred in the Revolution was one of the principle focuses of the Con tinental Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. The new Constitution and the monetary and tax systems put in place by Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, would keep inflation at bay until the crisis of the Civil War some 75 years later.
• The North had issues but not nearly as severe as the South. The North, of course, had the backing of the
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federal government. As a result the North, as the U.S. government, was able to throw much of the cost of the war onto the future with the sale of bonds.
• The South had to meet a majority percent of its rev enue needs by printing money. State and local govern ments also printed money. And because the South lacked good paper mills and state-of-the-art printing facilities, counterfeiting flourished. The South printed about $1.5 billion in fiat money, three times as much as the North, despite having only 12 percent of the cir culating currency before the war and only 21 percent of banking assets. The result was catastrophic inflation. Prices rose 700 percent in the South in just the first two years of the war.
Since the days of the Civil War we have seen monetary policy in the United States change several times. We have experienced years of low inflation; years of high inflation; and even years of deflation.
The beginning of the Great Depression in 1929 brought not inflation but deflation, which is an even bigger problem. When infla tion is high, people tend to spend money as soon as they get it to avoid higher prices in the future. But in a deflationary environment, people postpone purchases in order to take advantage of lower prices in the future. That practice further depresses the economy. Yes, we have high inflation today, but at least we are not experiencing deflation.
then doubled again in 1979 as a result of the Iranian Revolu tion. I remember well those years and the long lines at gas stations when the gas stations would finally get a shipment of fuel. They would limit each customer to 5 or 10 gallons depending on how much they were able to get.
Second, the Federal Reserve did not have a mandate to raise interest rates and slow down the economy to stop infla tion from rising until President Jimmy Carter appointed cigar chomping Paul Volcker as Federal Reserve chair in 1979. Volcker was reappointed for a second term by Presi dent Reagan in 1983.
Since the days of the Civil War we have seen monetary policy in the United States change several times. We have expe rienced years of low inflation; years of high inflation; and even years of deflation.
We had a very different economy then. The monetary policies of the Federal Reserve board, led by Volcker, were widely credited with curbing the rate of inflation. U.S. inflation, which peaked at 14.8 percent in March 1980, fell below 3 percent by 1983. The Federal Reserve Board raised the federal funds rate, which had averaged 11.2 percent in 1979, to a peak of 20 percent in June 1981. The prime rate rose to 21.5 percent in 1981 as well, which helped lead to the 1980-1982 recession and unemployment over 10 percent. This was a case of the medicine making you feel worse before getting better. U.S. monetary policy eased in 1982, helping lead to a resumption of economic growth. Sometimes the medi cine is tough to take but necessary.
What I don’t get is why people are talking about our current inflation rate as if it’s the 1970s. I’ve looked around for the wide neckties or the pastel-colored leisure suits. I haven’t seen them, and I’m counting my blessings.
Yes, inflation is higher than it has been in many years as prices for gasoline, diesel, used cars, groceries and other items have risen at their fastest rate in many years. But the causes of higher inflation today are different than they were 50 years ago, and we risk choking off a healthy economy by using the 1970s as a guide to economic policy.
Inflation in the 1970s was higher than today, accelerated over the decade and had a traumatic effect on economic policy. Starting from about 2 percent in the late 1960s, infla tion rose to 12 percent in 1974, and 14.8 percent in 1980.
Reflect on those years. In retrospect I believe you will remember the underlying causes of those years of high infla tion. First, we were hit with two oil shocks. The price per barrel of oil quadrupled during the 1973 oil embargo and
Today’s economy is not the economy of the 1970s, in which you could earn up to 15 percent on a certificate of deposit at your local bank. But you also paid through the nose for a loan — if you could even get a loan. We have experienced years of unprecedented low interest rates — nearly nothing on the earning side and very low on the borrowing side. But with the current high inflation rate the Federal Re serve board under the direction of Chairman Jerome Powell is methodically increasing the federal funds rate to curb infla tion — a proven method.
A better historical analogy than the 1970s for today’s infla tion problem is the reconversion of the U.S. economy from wartime to peacetime production after World War II. As an example, civilian automobile production ended in early 1942 and didn’t resume until late 1945. It took time to reconvert factories from making aircraft engines to automobile engines.
Very similar, the pandemic caused entire sectors of the U.S. economy to shut down for weeks or months, and then
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restart under pandemic conditions of social distancing, remote work, and other changes in production practices. All this change takes time, and it will show up in competi tive markets as higher prices. Parts and labor shortages cause prices and wages to rise, and that’s exactly how markets are supposed to work. Prices will settle down as each market is able to resume its regular patterns.
Today’s inflation is nothing like the inflation of the 1970s and early 1980s. Today’s inflation was caused primarily by the two things I’ve talked about: (1) the disruption caused by a pandemic; and (2) those trillions of “free dollars” or “fiat dollars” as they are called by economists that were artificially pumped into our economy. Of course, there is no such thing as free money. We are paying for that money through high
inflation and will continue to pay for it as we pay down the national debt. Economist Milton Friedman said, “Inflation is taxation without legislation.”
There is strong temptation to demand that someone do something to stop this rise in inflation. In this instance, I believe that’s the wrong way to think about our situation. Instead, we need to let markets work out the bugs of supplychain issues, higher-than-usual fuel prices and other idio syncrasies of today’s pandemic and post-pandemic economy. That, along with the methodical work of the Federal Reserve will move us in the right direction.
And have no fear, my mint green and baby blue leisure suits of the 1970s are long gone.
Greene County Treasurer recognized for service on AAC Board
At its August meeting, the AAC Board of Directors recognized longtime Greene County Treasurer Debbie Cross, who is retiring at the end of this year. Cross, who has a background in accounting, took office in January 2009. Cross served as president of the Arkansas County Treasurers’ Association from 2015 to 2018. She served on the AAC Board of Directors from 2015 to 2022. Pictured with Cross (middle) are Randolph County Circuit Clerk and AAC Board President Debbie Wise and AAC Executive Director Chris Villines.
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Ballot Issues: What are you voting on?
The Arkansas Constitution allows the General Assembly to propose up to three constitutional amendments for the voters of Arkansas to de cide. These resolutions are vetted in the Joint House and Senate State Agencies committee. The Senate filed 18 senate joint resolutions (SJR) and the House filed 25 house joint resolutions (HJR) during the 93rd General Assembly. Many of these resolutions mirrored the opposite chamber resolutions and were properly discussed. At the end of the day, this joint committee approved HJR1005, SJR10, and SJR14. Following the passage of both chambers these resolutions are now on the ballot for the 2022 general elec tion and listed as issue 1, 2 and 3.
Issue 4 is a citizen-led effort that at press time was being challenged in the Arkansas Supreme Court.
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Re search and Extension, Public Policy Center has released its 2022 voter guide, “Arkansas Ballot Issues.” The guide (found at https://www.uaex.uada.edu/business-communities/votereducation/docs/2022-Arkansas-Ballot-Issue-Voter-Guide. pdf) is the most comprehensive resource in the state for a neutral analysis of ballot issues. Some information for this article comes from this guide.
Constitutional amendments currently require the approval of a majority of voters in a statewide election. Election Day is Nov. 8, 2022.
“A constitutional amendment to allow the General Assembly to convene in extraordinary session upon the issuance of a joint written proclamation of the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate or upon the submission of a written proclamation containing the signatures of at least 2/3 of the members of the House of Representatives and at least 2/3 of the mem bers of the Senate to the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate requesting that the General Assembly convene in extraordinary session.”
SJR10, which is now called Issue 1, passed the Arkansas Senate 30-2 and the House of Representatives 82-9. This proposed amendment asks voters to amend Article 5, § 5 of the Arkansas constitution. This section defines when the Gen eral Assembly can meet. Section 5 currently allows the body to meet every odd numbered year for a regular session and
even numbered years for a fis cal session. The fiscal session is relatively new. Amendment 86, which voters approved in 2008, allowed for the budgetary ses sion beginning in 2010. The only other time the legislative branch can assemble to pass laws is outlined in Article 6, Section 19. This section allows the Governor to call the General Assembly into an extraordinary session to conduct specific business. Issue 1, if approved, would allow the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate to convene an extraordinary session. It also provides the abil ity for 2/3 of the members of each body to submit a written proclamation to convene an extraordinary session. Either way, there would have to be a written and clear reason for the spe cial session. Supporters of this amendment want the legislative and executive branches to have equal power regarding when the General Assembly can go into session. Opponents of this amendment would like to keep the sole power of convening the legislature with the Governor.
Josh Curtis Governmental Affairs Director
HJR1005, which is now called Issue 2, passed the Arkan sas Senate 23-6 and the House of Representatives 74-18. This proposed amendment asks voters to amend Article 5, § 1 and 18; Article 19, § 19 and 22; and Amendment 70, § 2 of the Arkansas Constitution. Issue 2, if approved, would change the percentage of votes need to approve a constitutional amend ment. Approval would mean each initiative would require 60 percent of the vote, rather than 50 percent of the vote, to take effect. Issue 2 is supported by a Legislative Question Commit tee (LQC) called Defend AR Constitution.
In an email, State Rep. David Ray, chairman for Defend AR Constitution said, “Our state constitution is Arkansas’ charter document, and it should only be amended when there is genu ine consensus among voters. Issue 2 provides a much-needed guardrail so that big money, out-of-state special interests quit trying to hijack our state constitution and ballot initiative
“A Constitutional Amendment to Reform Certain Measures Presented to Voters, to be Known as the ‘Constitutional Amendment and Ballot Initiative Reform Amendment.”
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system by pulling the wool over voters’ eyes and effectively buying new laws and constitutional amendments. Issue 2 will also give the voters more power by giving them a check on legislatively-referred amendments.”
The opposition formed a LQC called Protect AR Vote. Chair of Protect AR Vote Bonnie Miller said in an email, “Issue 2 is confusing, and that’s on purpose. Little Rock poli ticians and lobbyists are currently trying to push through a vague and risky measure that will have unpredictable and unintended consequences for our state. The truth is these politicians and lobbyists don’t want you to know that Issue 2 will give them more power while taking ours away. This measure will mean more power for special interests, more backroom deals, and less power for voters like us to decide on the issues that matter most.”
“A constitutional amendment to create the ‘Ar kansas Religious Freedom Amendment.’”
SJR14, which is now called Issue 3, passed the Arkansas Senate 27-4 and the House of Representatives 75-19. This proposed amendment references Article 2, § 24 of the Arkan sas Constitution regarding religious liberty. Issue 3 attempts to clarify that the government shall not burden a person’s free dom of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability. It goes on to say government may burden a per son’s freedom of religion only if the government demonstrates a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling government interest. The authors of this amendment have stated it should be extremely rare for the government to burden a person’s freedom of reli gion. There has been one ballot question committee formed in support of this amendment — Family Council Action Com mittee. At this time there have not been any groups organized and on file in opposition.
Issue 4 is a citizen-led effort to legalize cannabis use for adults over the age of 21. Responsible Growth Arkansas draft ed this amendment and has filed as a ballot question commit tee. The required number of signatures has been verified by the Secretary of State, but the Arkansas Board of Election Com missioners denied certifying the issue. Responsible Growth Arkansas has appealed this ruling to the Arkansas Supreme Court, and they ruled to conditionally certify the ballot issue. Then on Sept. 12, the court issued a per curiam, which stated, “Pursuant to our authority under Amendment 80, § 2(E) of the Arkansas Constitution to issue and determine any and all writs necessary in aid of our jurisdiction, we issue a writ of mandamus to the Secretary of State to decide the sufficiency of the proposed initiative petition at issue in this action pursuant to Article 5, §1 of the Arkansas Constitution…”
Secretary of State John Thurston subsequently declared the proposed constitutional amendment insufficient for in clusion on the November ballot because the State Board of Election Commissioners did not certify the ballot title and popular name.
Issue 4 will be on every ballot in Arkansas. However, court proceedings will continue to determine whether the votes will be counted. Three ballot question committees have formed to oppose this amendment — Safe and Secure Com munities, Family Council Action Committee, and Save Ar kansas from Epidemics.
“An amendment to authorize the possession, personal use, and consumption of cannabis by adults, to authorize the cultivation and sale of cannabis by licensed commercial facilities, and to provide for the regulation of those facilities.”
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SCOTUS issues opinions in recent First Amendment cases
TheUnited States Supreme Court has issued rulings on cases that were argued in the Fall 2021 term, with several of them affecting state and local gov ernments. This article will highlight a few of those cases, specifically those dealing with First Amendment issues.
Kennedy v. Bremerton School District — In this 6-3 decision, the Court held that an assistant football coach was protected by the First Amendment when he knelt in prayer on the field after football games. The ruling also overturned prior case law, Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), which had established a test for determining whether a law or rule constituted an establish ment of religion by the government. The Lemon test “called for an examination of a law’s purposes, effects, and potential for entanglement with religion. In time, the approach also came to involve estimations about whether a ‘reasonable ob server’ would consider the government’s challenged action an ‘endorsement’ of religion.” The Court in Kennedy replaced the Lemon test with an analysis that more accurately reflects the intentions of the Founding Fathers.
The Court found that the district violated either or both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment by denying Kennedy the opportunity to engage in a brief prayer of thanks alone on the field after football games. The Court found insufficient evidence that students were coerced into joining the prayer. The Court found that Kennedy met his burden in show ing that the district violated his Free Exercise rights by showing that the district’s policy in firing him was not “neutral” or “gener ally applicable.” He was disciplined precisely because his actions were religious, with the school conceding that they allowed other personnel to engage in personal conduct after games that was not religious. Therefore, the Court should apply “strict scrutiny,” meaning the government must have a compelling state interest and that its policy be narrowly tailored to meet its goal.
The Court also believed that Kennedy met his burden to trig ger a Free Speech issue, ruling that his after-game prayer was offered not as a government employee in the ordinary scope of his duties, but as a “citizen addressing a matter of public concern.” The second part of this test under Pickering v. Board of Ed. Of Township High School and Garcetti v. Ceballos, is for the govern ment to prove its interests as an employer outweigh Kennedy’s interest in his private speech on a matter of public concern.
The Court ultimately ruled that, whether viewed as a Free Ex ercise or Free Speech issue, the burden was on the school district, either to meet the strict scrutiny standard in the former, or that the governmental interest outweighed Kennedy’s personal interest in the latter. The Court found that the school district could not meet its burden for either test, therefore Kennedy was entitled to summary judgment on both of his claims. In its ruling, the Court specifically rejected the school district’s notion that any vis
ibly religious action by a school official was coercive towards students, and that “learning how to tolerate diverse expres sive activities has always been ‘part of learning how to live in a pluralistic so ciety.’”
Shurtleff v. City of Boston — In this unanimous decision, the Court ruled that the City of Boston violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment when it refused to fly the Christian flag on a flagpole outside city hall at the re quest of the Camp Constitution organization. There are three flagpoles in this location: one flies the American flag, one flies the Massachusetts flag, and the other typically flies Boston’s flag, but for over 15 years Boston has customarily allowed out side organizations to fly other flags during events on the plaza. These flags have represented a wide range of entities, including flags representing other countries, community banks, EMS workers, and Pride Week. The Director of Camp Constitution argued his right to fly the Christian flag was unlawfully denied due to its religious nature, while other citizens were permitted to fly their flags. Boston argued it reserved the pole to “fly flags that communicate governmental messages.”
LINDSEY FRENCH General Counsel
The Court ruled that while the Free Speech clause does not prohibit the government from declining to express a view, the boundary between government and private speech is blurred when the government invites the people to partici pate in its speech, as the City of Boston had done. In deter mining whether the speech at hand was governmental speech, as Boston contended, or rather private speech invited by the government, the Court considered factors used in past U.S. Supreme Court cases, including the history of the expression at issue, the public’s likely perception of who is actually speak ing, and the extent to which the government has controlled the expression. The Court has previously ruled that permanent monuments erected on public property is government speech, despite who paid for it and that license plate designs were gov ernment speech, but that trademarking private speech was not government speech because the government does not exercise “sufficient control over the nature and content of those marks to convey a governmental message.”
The Court opined that Boston’s flying the city’s own flag, other countries’ flags, and the Pride Week flag during Bos ton Pride Week were all clearly governmental messages. However, other flags, such as those representing community banks, seem harder to deem government speech. The key factor was whether Boston exercised control over the flags’
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content and meaning, which would show that the message was intended to represent the city. The city says its policy is to try to accommodate all applicants who choose to express themselves in its public forums, and that it did not review or pre-approve flags to be flown at these events. No flag had been denied at an event until this instance. The city had no written rules or policies about flying third party flags on its property. Therefore, the Court found the city’s control over the content of the flags to be minimal, leading it to determine that the flying of third-party flags constituted private, not government, speech. Consequently, the City of Boston denied the organizers’ right to free speech by refusing to let them fly the Christian flag at the Camp Constitution event on the city plaza. When the government is not speaking for itself, it is prohibited from discriminating based on the reli gious viewpoint of the speech’s content.
Carson v. Makin — In a 6-3 vote, the Court ruled that the Maine Department of Education’s prohibition of providing tu ition assistance to religious-affiliated schools violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Maine had a longstanding program that allowed parents of children in school districts that did not operate or provide access to a secondary school to designate a secondary school of their choice, and the state would provide tuition assistance payments to the school. Since 1981, Maine has limited a school’s eligibility for receiv ing this assistance to “nonsectarian” schools only. Petitioners wished to send their children to Bangor Christian Schools and Temple Academy, neither of which qualify as “nonsectarian” schools which are eligible for tuition assistance under Maine’s program. The parents sued the state, alleging violations of The Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The final issue before the Court was whether this restriction violates the Free Exercise Clause.
The Court recently decided Trinity Lutheran Church of Co lumbia, Inc. v. Comer, in which a Missouri program offered benefits to qualifying nonprofit programs that improved play grounds but denied applicants that were owned or controlled by a church, sect, or other religious entity. The Court ruled that the state could not deny benefits to otherwise qualifying applicants “solely because of their religious character.” Simi larly, in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Court ruled that the state’s constitutional prohibition against aiding any school “controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect, or denomination” violated the Free Exercise Clause by preventing parents from using “otherwise available scholarship funds” at religious schools. The Espinoza Court held that a “State need not subsidize private education, [b]ut once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”
In this case, Maine offers its citizens a benefit in the form of tuition assistance for any family whose district does not provide a secondary school. A wide range of private schools are eligible to receive the payments, but religious schools are disqualified solely because of their religious character. The Court therefore applied the strict scrutiny standard. The Court reiterated that a “neutral benefit program in which public funds flow to reli gious organizations through the independent choice of private benefit recipients does not offend the Establishment Clause.” Furthermore, the Court said Maine’s interest in not establish ing a religion does not justify excluding some members of the community from a generally available public benefit because of their religion. It was important to the Court that Maine did not exclude payments to all private schools, only those that had a religious character. By doing so, the Court held that the state violated the Free Exercise rights of its citizens.
Houston Community College v. Wilson — In a unanimous ruling, the Court ruled that a purely verbal censure by a public governing body does not constitute an actionable First Amend ment claim by the person censured. Mr. Wilson was elected to the HCC Board of Trustees and often disagreed with other members of the Board, including on media outlets and in state-court litigation, going as far as to allege violations of the Board’s ethics and bylaws. In 2016, the Board reprimanded Mr. Wilson publicly, and in 2018, the board adopted a public resolution to censure Mr. Wilson due to his “not only inap propriate, but reprehensible” actions taken against members of the Board. In addition to the verbal censure, the resolution deemed Mr. Wilson ineligible to hold an officer position for that year. Mr. Wilson asserted in state court that the censure violated his free speech rights under the First Amendment.
The Court considered long-standing and established prac tice when deciding whether this censure violated Mr. Wilson’s freedom of speech, noting that “elected bodies in this country have long exercised the power to censure their members,” in cluding Congress as well as local and state bodies. Additional ly, recent court cases affirm this historical practice. “A plaintiff … pursuing a First Amendment retaliation claim must show that the government took an ‘adverse action’ in response to his speech that ‘would not have been taken absent the retaliatory motive.’” In deciding whether the adverse action taken was a material action, the court considered Mr. Wilson’s position. Elected officials are expected to face a certain degree of criti cism and may respond to the criticism by continuing to exer cise their free speech rights. Second, the Court found that the only action taken against Mr. Wilson was the censure — an other form of free speech in itself. He was not prevented from doing his job, removed from office, or defamed. Therefore, the Court found no materially adverse action was taken against Mr. Wilson, and his claim was dismissed.
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The Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership
All75 Arkansas counties and most Arkansas cities and towns have been engaged since 2018 in liti gation against opioid companies, seeking com pensation to implement solutions to the Arkansas opioid epidemic. Several of the defendants have finalized or are close to finalizing national settlements and state-specific settlements. Multiple defendants have filed bankruptcy in response to litigation across the country, and we are also pursuing the counties’ claims in those bankruptcy proceedings. The unity of Arkansas governments has been beneficial in these settlement discussions, as it has been from the start in the united Arkansas opioid litigation.
I have written in the past about the Arkansas Opioids MOU and your vision for abatement of the Arkansas opioid epidemic. In July 2021, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) Executive Director Chris Villines, and Arkansas Municipal League (AML) Director Mark Hayes, all signed the Arkansas Opioids MOU. The MOU includes an equal split of Arkansas settlement dollars among the state, counties, and cit ies — 1/3 of every Arkansas dollar is allocated to the state, 1/3 of every Arkansas dollar is allocated to cities, and 1/3 of every Arkansas dollar is allocated to counties. The unified, equal split among the governments of Arkansas remains an excellent result for the people of Arkansas, as I explained in the Fall 2021 issue of County Lines.
should be. We have explained the importance of unity of local governments in both the litiga tion and the abatement phases of this case, to do the maximum good you can do with the lim ited resources and funds at your disposal from these settlements.
D irectors Villines and Hayes have already made what may be their most important decision regarding the Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership (AORP).
We have been having these discussions, and preparing for abatement of the Arkansas opioid epidemic, for a long time. No county or city has objected, and most Arkansas counties and cities have specifically autho rized the AAC and AML Directors to work together to build an appropriate structure and process for management and disbursement of county and city opioid funds. The directors have begun doing exactly that.Thanks to the unity of Arkan sas counties and cities, the Arkansas Opioids MOU, and the QSF, Arkansas counties and cities are ready to receive opioid settlement funds — before the payments begin. This is no small accom plishment. And more importantly, we are preparing for abatement so we will be ready to use the opioid settlement funds as quickly as pos sible, to help as many of your people as possible, in the most effective ways possible.
In that Fall 2021 update, I also wrote about potential settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors. As of this writing, there are two national settlements, two bankruptcy plans, and an Arkansas-specific settlement, that will provide settlement payments into Arkansas, to be used as set forth in the Arkansas Opioids MOU. These settle ments and bankruptcy plans as of this writing will provide over $200 million in total abatement funds for Arkansas across 18 years (for the longest settlement) — and there may be additional settlements to come. Arkansas will begin receiving payments later this year.
We (your lawyers) have explained that opioid litigation settlement dollars will be subject to court supervision, and can only be spent for future programs, projects, and strategies to end the Arkansas opioid epidemic. This is as it
Directors Villines and Hayes have already made what may be their most important decision regarding the Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership (AORP). It is time to begin the important work of studying the Arkansas opioid epidemic and making recommendations regarding programs and strategies to abate the Arkansas opioid epidemic in a manner consistent with approved purposes, settlement agreements, and court orders approving settlements and bankruptcies. The AAC and AML, through their directors and boards, have agreed to jointly hire a director of AORP, and jointly fund any additional staff, personal benefits, and related costs, to begin this important work — even before the settlement funds begin to flow.
Directors Villines and Hayes knew exactly who they want ed for this job, and Kirk Lane agreed to take the position
Colin Jorgensen Risk Management Litigation Counsel
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effective Aug. 22, 2022. Lane served with national distinction as State Drug Director from 2017 until August 2022. He also served many years as Chief of the Benton Police Department, before becoming State Drug Director. In his resignation letter to Gov. Hutchinson, Lane wrote: “This position has opened my eyes to the serious issues that substance use disorder cre ates, and how it has entrenched itself in everything we do. Most importantly, it has made me more determined to get in front of it to defeat it.”
AAC Director Villines wrote about the hiring of Kirk Lane as director of the unique county-city partnership:
“We are excited to announce the formation of the Ar kansas Opioid Recovery Partnership, a united venture between Counties, Cities and Towns in Arkansas. It is a partnership between the Arkansas Municipal League and Association of Arkansas Counties that represents an unprecedented, united front between the represen tatives of local government. Especially exciting is the fact that Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane has decided to direct this partnership as we move forward…
We expect to receive settlement funds this year, and when they come in we must have a plan. Every dollar needs a name and a wise and sound commitment to fight opioid addiction in Arkansas. Hiring Kirk Lane now is critically important to building this plan and he has a proven track record and experience which will prove invaluable in managing what will likely be a multi-year stream of settlement funds. This is not a situation of Kirk Lane leaving his passion, it is simply a re-engagement from a different perspective and our local governments in Arkansas are going to be thrilled with his leadership and vision.”
Everyone involved in the yearslong effort of this litigation is thrilled about where we’re at now, and where we’re headed. We (your lawyers) will continue to pursue the opioid industry, marshal settlements into Arkansas, assist with build ing the structure and process for abatement, and represent your interests in this litigation wherever that takes us — so a united Arkansas can bring the cavalry to help the communities, families, and addicts of Arkansas.
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AAC names 2022 scholarship recipients
Students will study accounting, education, and more.
TheAssociation of Arkansas Counties has announced its 2022 AAC Scholarship Trust recipients. AAC established the trust in 1985 to provide college financial assistance to the children, stepchildren and grandchildren of Arkansas county and district officials and employees. AAC has since awarded more than a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships. Along with the AAC, the following county associations contributed to the scholarship trust in 2022: the County Judges Association of Arkansas, the Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association, the Arkansas County Treasurers Association, the Arkansas County Clerks Association, Arkansas Coroners Association, Arkansas Association of Quorum Courts, Arkansas Sheriffs Association, Arkansas County Tax Collectors Association, and the Arkansas County Assessors Association.
Abram Haas is a 2022 graduate of Riverside High School in Lake City. He plans to attend Arkansas State Univer sity to study agri business. His father, Dale Haas, is a retired County Judge and Sheriff from Craighead County.
Lexie-Ruth Freeman is a sophomore at the University of Arkansas at Mon ticello, where she is studying account ing. She is the granddaughter of Ashley County Treasurer Stacey Brashears. She is a two-time AAC scholarship recipient.
Samantha Guiltner is a 2022 gradu ate of Salem High School. She is the daughter of Pam Guiltner, who works in the Fulton County Clerk’s office. She plans to attend Ozarka College to pur sue a degree in nursing.
Samantha Baker is a 2022 graduate of Alma High School. She is the daugh ter of Coventry Baker, who works in the Crawford County Assessor’s office. She plans to attend the University of Arkan sas at Fayetteville to pursue a bachelor’s degree in pre-veterinary studies.
Lauren Maness is a 2022 graduate of Marion High School. She will attend Ar kansas State University-Jonesboro to pur sue a degree in international business. She is the granddaughter of Lavada Norris, a former employee in the Crittenden Coun ty Circuit Clerk and Assessor’s offices.
Alyssa (Aly) Mills is a 2022 graduate of Ashdown High School. Her mother, Heather Parson, works in the Little River County Clerk’s office. Aly plans to attend the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where she will pursue a de gree in civil engineering.
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Eva Richardson is a sophomore at the University of Mississippi, where she is pursuing a degree in exercise science (pre-med). Her grandmother, Catherine Richardson, served as Bradley County Circuit Clerk for 20 years. Eva is a twotime recipient of the AAC scholarship.
Jasmine (Jazzy) Trejo is a 2022 grad uate of Rogers Heritage High School. She plans to attend Arkansas Tech Uni versity and pursue a degree in business management. She is the daughter of Sylvia Trejo, who works in the Benton County Finance department.
Mollie Winters is a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in counseling at John Brown University. She works as a Juvenile Probation Officer for the Crawford County Juvenile Office.
Alexa Booher is the recipient of the Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship. She is a 2022 graduate of Clinton High School. Alexa plans to attend the Uni versity of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton to pursue a degree in general education. Her mother, Jessica Booher, works in the Van Buren Coun ty Assessor’s office.
Randy Kemp was the first AAC Communications Director, serving from July 2008 until his death in August 2011. The scholarship is funded exclusively by the annual Randy Kemp Golf Tournament.
Macy Handwork is the recipient of the Matt Morris Scholarship. She is a recent graduate of Benton High School and plans to attend the University of Central Arkansas where she will pursue a degree in physical therapy. Her mother is Saline County Tax Collector Holly Sanders.
The Matt Morris scholarship was es tablished following the death in 1999 of Matt Morris, son of former AAC Employee David Morris. Matt was an Arkansas Razorback baseball recruit. The scholarship is funded by dona tions made in Matt’s name and by the County Judges Association and is awarded to an applicant who reminds the scholarship committee of Matt, ei ther through their sports involvement or by helping others.
McKenzi Spurgin is the recipient of the Jonathan Greer Memorial Scholar ship, which was established last year by the Arkansas Association of Quorum Courts. McKenzi is a graduate student at the University of Central Arkansas. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in occupational therapy. Her grand mother is Polk County Justice of the Peace Tawana Gilbert.
Jonathan Greer was a staff attorney of the Association and the liaison to the Quorum Court Association when he passed away in 2015. The Quorum Court Association established the Jon athan Greer Memorial Scholarship in his memory to be awarded each year to a deserving student.
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Left: Benton County Circuit Clerk Brenda DeShields has served her county in various positions in the circuit clerk’s office for 34 years. Above: AAC Execu tive Director Chris Villines (left) and AAC Board President Debbie Wise (right) present DeShields with the Wes Fowler Advocacy Award during the AAC’s 54th Annual Conference, held in Hot Springs/Garland County.
DeShields recognized during conference Benton County Circuit Clerk is 2022 recipient of Wes Fowler Award.
Story by Christy L. Smith Photos by CAITLIN BROWN & CHRISTY L. SMITH AAC Communications Staff
system for filing documents. She also led Benton County in becoming the second county in the state to implement e-recording.
County Circuit Clerk Brenda DeShields has been awarded the Association of Arkansas Counties’ (AAC) 2022 Wes Fowler Advocacy Award for her “tireless work in boldly advocating for the counties of Arkansas.”
DeShields has worked in every facet of the Benton County Circuit Clerk’s Office for 34 years. She is an active member of the Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association, serving on several committees. She serves on the Legislative Committee, Executive Board, Automation Grants Committee, Program Committee, and New Elect Committee. She also is chair of the By-Laws Committee.
DeShields is a member of the AAC Board of Directors. Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed her chair of the Arkansas E-Recording Commission, which she helped to create; and she was appointed by Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Kemp to serve on the Criminal Code Committee, a subcommittee of the state’s Court Automation Committee.
In 2003, DeShields implemented imaging, a paperless
The Wes Fowler Advocacy Award was established in 2017 following the death of Fowler, who spent decades working in Madison County government before finishing his career at the AAC as Government Relations Director. The award is given annually to a county or district official that has exhibited great passion for advocacy over the previous year. A subcommittee of the AAC Board of Directors selects the recipient of the award. Recipients receive an Arkansas County Diamond Award and are honored in perpetuity at the AAC with a permanently placed plaque and names added each year.
Randolph County Circuit Clerk and AAC Board President Debbie Wise and AAC Executive Director Chris Villines presented the advocacy award to DeShields during the AAC’s 54th annual conference, held Aug. 10-12, 2022, in Hot Springs/Garland County.
“Our winner of the 2022 Wes Fowler Advocacy Award has never shied away from jumping into a role of leadership,” Wise said. “When her children were younger, she served on their school board.”
“Brenda has been an incredible ambassador for county government,” Villines said, noting her involvement in state
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Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association President and Washington County Circuit Clerk Kyle Sylvester said Deshields “has proved to be a substantial voice for the Circuit Clerks Association and tirelessly works not only to establish the standard of excellence across the state for Circuit Clerks, but also has been a wealth of experience and knowledge to her fellow clerks across the state for many years.”
DeShields and her husband, Keith, have been married for 34 years. They have two adult children, Keeshia and Josh. DeShields is a basketball fan, counting her favorite NBA team as the Miami Heat. She regularly plans springtime vacations to Miami so she can watch them play on their home court.
She shares her love of basketball with her son. In a 2017 interview for the County Lines magazine, DeShields said she and her son keep a growing list of NBA home courts they have visited. And they get NBA updates on their phones so they can keep up with players’ playoff chances.
Past recipients of the Wes Fowler Advocacy Award are re tired Columbia County Clerk Sherry Bell, former Randolph County Treasurer and AAC Executive Director (now consul tant) Eddie A. Jones, Madison County Judge Frank Weav er, Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder, and Conway County Judge Jimmy Hart.
Above: Wes Fowler served as Madison County Clerk for 10 years beginning in 1989. During that time, he served as legislative chair and in officer positions in the Arkansas Association of County Clerks. He was elected county judge in 1998 and continued to be active in the County Judges’ Association of Arkansas. He joined the AAC staff as Governmental Affairs Director in 2010, and continued to serve as a consultant to the AAC after he retired in 2014. Fowler passed away Feb. 1, 2017.
COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022 29
Officials ride the waves of change
54th Annual AAC Conference attracts nearly 850
Story by Christy L. Smith Photos by Caitlin Brown & Christy L. Smith AAC Communications Staff
TheAssociation of Arkan sas Counties (AAC) held its 54th annual conference Aug. 10-12, 2022, at the Hot Springs Convention Center in Hot Springs/Garland County. “County Re silience: Riding the Waves of Change” was the theme for the event, which drew nearly 850 attendees.
Randolph County Circuit Clerk and AAC Board President Debbie Wise pre sided over the event. During the Wednesday opening session, Garland County Judge Darryl Mahoney welcomed at tendees, and then introduced the first speaker, Congressman Bruce Westerman.
AAC Executive Director Chris Villines led the traditional roll call of counties present. Following a Year in Review video
from the National Association of Coun ties (NACo), keynote speaker, NACo 1st Vice President and Ramsey County, Minnesota Commissioner, Mary Jo McGuire took the stage.
The nine associations that fall under the AAC umbrella met after the opening session, mainly to work on their legisla tive packages for the 94th General As sembly. The evening ended on a tradi tional note: with the Southern Fish Fry.
Thursday morning began early, with AAC Litigation Counsel Colin Jor gensen leading the Wellness Walk.
Thursday also featured a pre-recorded interview with Democratic Gubernato rial candidate Dr. Chris Jones. Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin appeared via Zoom; he had been presiding over a Senate meeting during a special legislative session called by the Governor.
Break-out sessions focused on topics such as “Infrastructure,” “Active Shoot ers and Volatile Persons Awareness,”
“Bambi vs. Godzilla: How to Deal with Difficult People,” and “Constitutional Amendments.”
The featured speaker for lunch on Thursday was Bruce Christopher, a re nowned psychologist and humorist.
Several awards were given out on Thursday, including special recognition to Arkansas Municipal League Director Mark Hayes and Counsel John Wilker son for their partnership with the coun ties and state in opioid litigation.
Scholarship and golf tournament winners were announced. The AAC also presented the 2022 Wes Fowler Advocacy Award to Benton County Circuit Clerk Brenda DeShields for her 34 years of service to her county and state.
Thursday night ended with the tradi tional dinner and dance. However, for the first time, the AAC offered karaoke.
Republican Gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders closed the con ference Friday morning.
Miss UCA Nia Renée Kelly kicks off the conference with an acapella version of the National Anthem followed by “America the Beautiful.” Kelly is a former American Idol contestant. She also competed in the 2022 Miss Arkansas pageant, winning the talent competition.
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Above left: Members of the Arkansas Sheriffs Association Color Guard post the colors. Above right: Congressman Bruce Westerman speaks during the Wednesday opening session. Left: Pictured from left to right are Polk County Judge and AAC Board Vice President Brandon El lison, Faulkner County Justice of the Peace and Board Member Randy Higgins, Pulaski County Treasurer/Collector and AAC Board Member Debra Buckner, NACo 1st Vice President Mary Jo McGuire, AAC Executive Director Chris Villines, Randolph County Circuit Clerk and AAC Board President Debbie Wise, Benton County Circuit Clerk and AAC Board Member Brenda DeShields, and Garland County Judge Darryl Mahoney.
Above left: NACo 1st Vice President and Ramsey County, Minnesotta, Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire speaks to attendees. Above right: AAC Executive Director Chris Villines, Polk County Judge and AAC Board Vice President Brandon Ellison, and NACo 1st Vice President and Ramsey County, Minnesota, Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire visit the exhibit hall.
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Above left: Lafayette County Sheriff Obie Sims regis ters on site with AAC Accountant Cindy Posey. Above right: Jackson County Justice of the Peace and AAC Board Member Tommy Young heads to the Quorum Court Association’s meeting. Left: Yell County Judge Mark Thone, Lafayette County Judge Danny Ormand, and Dallas County Judge Clark Brent visit with exhibi tors in the exhibit hall.
Above left: State Land Commissioner Tommy Land speaks to the Collector’s Association. Above right: Attorney Mike Rainwater leads a breakout session for justices of the peace. Right: Garland County Collector Rebecca Talbert tries her hand at Baggo to win prizes in the exhibit hall.
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Left: Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs listens as AAC Chief Legal Counsel Mark Whitmore speaks to the Coroners’ Association. Above left: White County Treasurer Janet Hibbitts asks a question during the Treasurer’s Association breakout session. Above right: Jefferson County’s Collector Office Manager Shirley Butler and Jefferson County Junior Deputy Assessor Morgan Tillman find a comfortable spot to sit while awaiting the opening general session.
Above left: Crawford County Assessor Sandra Heiner, Randolph County Treasurer Sherry Huskey, and Randolph County Assessor Stacy Ingram take a minute to pose for a photo. Above right: AAC Litigation Counsel Colin Jorgensen heads up Bingo, which has become a popular spouses’ event at the AAC Conference.
Above left: Craighead County had a strong showing at the AAC Conference. Above right: Greene County Judge Rusty McMillon talks to the Treasurer’s Association about 911 as Columbia County Treasurer and Association President Selena Blair looks on.
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Left: In a pre-recorded video that was shown at conference, AAC Legal Counsel Lindsey French interviews Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Dr. Chris Jones. Jones, who had to be out of town during the conference, discussed his campaign platforms.
Above left: Psychologist and Humorist Bruce Christopher was the Thursday luncheon speaker, as well as the leader of a breakout session on dealing with difficult people. Above center: Pictured are Hot Spring County Deputy Coroner Shannon Cleghorn and Saline County Coroner and AAC Board Member Kevin Cleghorn. Above right: Phillips County Sheriff Neal Byrd, Sr. and Phillips County Clerk Linda White-Winfield pose for a photo in the exhibit hall.
Above left: During the conference, the AAC recognized Arkansas Municipal League Director Mark Hayes and Counsel John Wilkerson (middle) for their partnership with the counties and state on opioid litigation. Also pictured are AAC Litigation Counsel Colin Jorgensen, Randolph County Circuit Clerk and AAC Board President Debbie Wise, and AAC Executive Director Chris Villines. Above right: AAC Government Affairs Director Josh Curtis, who organizes the annual Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament, announces the winners of this year’s tournament.
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34 COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022
Above left: NACo 1st Vice President and Ramsey County, Minnesota, Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire and AAC Executive Direc tor Chris Villines recognize Justice of the Peace Curtis Lee Johnson for his many years of service to Nevada County. Above right: Little River County Clerk and AAC Board Member Deanna Sivley wins a door prize during the Thursday night dinner and dance. Left: Members of the County Circuit Clerks Association gather on the stairs of the Hot Springs Convention Center for a group photo.
Above: The AAC accepts a plaque recognizing its 100 percent membership in NACo. All 75 Arkansas counties are members. Right: Republican Guberna torial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders was the featured speaker on Friday morning. She shared her campaign’s focus.
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AAC hosts Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament
Fortygolfers teed off at Ponce de Leon Golf Resort in Hot Springs Village on Aug. 9, 2022, to raise money for the Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Kemp was the AAC’s first communications director. He joined AAC in 2008 after a successful career in newspapers. He died in a motorcycle accident in August 2011.
The golf tournament raises funds for scholarships for descendants of county officials or employees who intend to pursue a college degree in communications or a communications related field.
The 2022 Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Alexa Booher, who plans to study general education at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton. Her mother, Jessica Booher, works in the Van Buren County Assessor’s office.
AAC extends its appreciation to those who support the fund, the golfers and sponsors.
Left: Darryl Gardner with Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions follows through. Above: AAC Chief Legal Counsel Mark Whitmore (left), Phillip Carper with Datascout LLC (middle), and Secretary of State John Thurston (right) are on the green and ready to play.
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Long Drive Garrett Gresham
Putting Contest Jason Owens
Closest Pin Rogers
Izard County Treasurer Warren Sanders putts as Rodney Pless, Patrick Hardy, and Kenison Holmes, all of Apprentice Information Systems, watch.
Corey Scott with Datascout contemplates his next move.
AAC Executive Director Chris Villines and Jefferson County Collector Tony Washington.
Pictured are Chase Dugger Jamie Barker (middle) of and Washington County Circuit Clerk Kyle Sylvester.
Craighead County Judge Marvin Day. Josh Curtis recognizes sponsors. Sheriffs’ Association Director Scott Bradley.
- Drake Barham & Garrett Gresham 2nd - Aaron Gardner & Evan Gardner 3rd - Darryl Gardner & Steve Morgan
- Richard Rogers & Josh Longmire 2nd - Marvin Day & Alan Breshears 3rd - Chase Dugger & Jamie Barker
Sponsors Platinum Sponsors Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions Correct Solutions Group Gold Sponsors AR Buy Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association JCD Consulting Jason Owens Law Firm, P.A. Keystone Solutions Pafford Medical Services Turn Key Health Silver Sponsors Delta Mass Appraisal Services 1st Arkansas Bail Bonds National Med Test Hole Sponsors Arkansas CAMA Technology Datascout, LLC Apprentice Information Systems John Thurston, Secretary of State
COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022 37
Thank you to our2022 Exhibitors and Sponsors!
2930 Browns Lane Jonesboro, AR 72404 (870) 738-9433 aceonetechnologies.com
Acrow Bridge 919 E. Main St. Suite 1000 Richmond, VA 23219 (804) 399-6766 www.acrow.com
ACT 14 Office Park Drive Little Rock, AR 72211 (479) 790-3230 www.arcamatrch.com
ADEM-AR Federal Sur plus Property 8700 Remount Road North Little Rock, AR 72118 (501) 835-3111 www.dps.arkansas.gov
American Municipal Svcs. 3724 Old Denton Rd Carrollton, TX 75007 (888) 420-9700 www.amsltd.us
American Stamp & Marking Products 6319 brookfield place Alma, AR 72921 (479) 651-0072 www.americanstamp.com
Apprentice Information Systems, Inc 900 N Dixieland Rd, Suite 102 Rogers, AR 72756 (479) 657-6111 www.apprenticeis.com
AR GIS Office
501 Woodlane St, Ste G-04 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 682-2767 www.gis.arkansas.gov
AR Secretary of State 500 Woodlane Ave, Ste 12 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 682-3504 www.sos.arkansas.gov
ARBuy 5000 Plaza on the Lake Austin, TX 78746 (936) 635-1291 www.periscopeholdings. com/arbuy
ArkTRECS 6600 North Capitol Street NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20001 (202) 942-4252 www.arcounties.org/erecording-1
Arkansas 811 2120 Maple Ridge Circle Conway, AR 72034 (501) 472-1005 www.arkansas811.com
Arkansas Correctional Industries 6841 West 13th Street Pine Bluff, AR 71602 (870) 730-0394 www.acicatalog.com
Arkansas Department of Transportation 10324 Interstate 30 Little Rock, AR 72209 (501) 410-2204 www.ardot.gov
Arkansas Energy and Environment Enterprise Services 5301 Northshore Drive North Little Rock, AR 72118 (501) 682-0946 www.adeq.state.ar.us
Arkansas Farm Bureau 10720 Kanis Road Little Rock, AR 72211 (501) 228-1627 www.arfb.com
Arkansas Forestry Association 1213 West 4th Street Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 374-2441 www.arkforests.org
Arkansas Municipal Equipment 14263 Poyen, AR 72128 (501) 388-2129 www.ametrucks.com
Arkhola Sand & Gravel 1010 Frontier Rd Barling, AR 72923 (479) 221-0066 www.arkholamaterials.com
Asphalt Zipper, Inc 831 East 340 South American Fork, UT 84003 (888) 947-7378 www.HappyRoads.com
1401 W. Capitol, Suite 420 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 542-2915 www.att.com
BHC Insurance 5500 Euper Lane Fort Smith, AR 72903 (479) 452-4000 www.bhca.com
City of Fairfield Bay Conference Center 100 Lost Creek Parkway Fairfield Bay, AR 72088 (501) 884-4202 www.FFBConference.com
Commissioner of State Lands 500 Woodlane St, Suite 109 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 683-3031 www.cosl.org
Crews & Associates, Inc. 521 President Clinton Ave Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 978-7953 www.crewsfs.com
Critical Edge 2503 Sunny Meadows Drive, Suite G Jonesboro, AR 72404 (870) 520-0078 www.criticaledgetech.com
CTC 4501 Marlena Street Bossier City, LA 71111 (870) 448-6011 www.citytelecoin.com
Curtis H Stout 2400 Cantrell Rd, Suite 100 Little Rock, AR 72202 (501) 940-3814 www.chstout.com
Cybersecurity and Infra structure Security Agency 414 E Capitol Ave Apt 119 Little Rock, AR 72202 (501) 414-1468 www.cisa.gov
14 Office Park Dr, Suite 100 Little Rock, AR 72211 (501) 771-2985 www.datascoutllc.com
Davis Playgrounds Inc. 104 Orchid Dr Maumelle, AR 72113 (501) 658-0732 www.davisplaygrounds.com
Dealers Truck Equipment 6601 I 30 Little Rock, AR 72209 (501) 568-9000 www.dealerstruck.com
Delta Mass Appraisal Services, Inc. PO Box 504 England, AR 72046 (501) 951-7171 www.deltamassappraisal.com
Divcodata 3721 Powers Court Chattanooga, TN 37416 (423) 394-8073 www.divcodata.com
Doggett Freightliner of Arkansas 11700 Valentine Road N. Little Rock, AR 72117 (501) 955-3200 www.doggettfreightliner.com/
EFS Geotechnologies 360 Airport Rd Monticello, AR 71655 (870) 723-2670 www.efsgeotech.com
Emergent BioSolutions 401 Plymouth Rd, Ste 400 Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462 (502) 296-8806 www.emergentbiosolutions.com
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve 223 Center Point Loop Vilonia, AR 72173 (501) 339-3014 www.esgr.mil
EZ Street Asphalt Hwy. 67-167 Batesville, AR 72503 (870) 307-2279 www.atlas asphalt Inc.com
Financial Intelligence 124 West Capital Avenue., Suite 1882 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 708-0313 www.financial-intel.com
First Onsite 3401 Quorum Dr, Suite 300 Fort Worth, TX 76137 (346) 400-2445 firstonsite.com
Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP 400 West Capitol, Suite 2000 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 370-1597 www.fridayfirm.com
getW9 3020 Olson Cr Bryant, AR 72022 (501) 503-1272 www.getw9.tax
Guardian RFID 6900 Wedgwood Rd N, Suite 325 Maple Grove, MN 55311 (512) 571-7328 www.guardianrfid.com
Heavyquip 9701 Meadow Lane Mabelvale, AR 72103 (501) 455-2596 www.heavyquip.com
HMN Architects Inc. 7400 West 110th Street, Suite 200 Overland Park, KS 66210 (913) 451-9075 www.hmnarchitects.com
Homeland Safety Systems 724 W. 61st St. Shreveport, LA 71106 (318) 423-3205
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1110 Enterprise Dr. Sulphur Springs, TX 75482 (800) 465-5127 www.netdatacorp.net
iCounty Technologies 1700 SW US 40 HWY Blue Springs, MO 64015 (417) 818-4299 www.icounty.com
Information Network of Arkansas 19476 North Springlake Rd Little Rock, AR 72206 (501) 414-3367 www.ina.arkansas.gov/ services-solutions
IOne Benefits Group 3964 Goodman Rd. Ste. 202 Southaven, MS 38672 (870) 926-9651 www.ionebenefits.com
Jason Owens Law Firm, PA 1023 Main St., Suite 204 Conway, AR 72032 (501) 764-4334 www.jowenslawfirm.com
Jim Harris & Associates, Inc. P.O. Box 1505 Searcy, AR 72145 (501) 268-3112 www.jimharrisaa.com
Johnson Controls 10600 Colonel Glenn Rd Little Rock, AR 72204 (501) 351-0926 www.JohnsonControls.com
JTS Financial 1616 Brookwood Dr. Little Rock, AR 72202 (501) 227-0194 www.jtsfs.com
Keep Arkansas Beautiful One Capitol Mall, Ste. 4A-007 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 682-3507 www.KeepArkansasBeauti ful.com
KellPro, Inc. 101 S. 15th St. Duncan, OK 73533 (580) 255-5553 www.kellpro.com
Kofile 6300 Cedar Springs Road Dallas, TX 75235 (918) 625-5672 www.kofile.com
Level 5 Architecture 326 Holcomb St., Suite 101 Springdale, AR 72764 (479) 756-1661 www.level5architecture.com
Lift Truck Service Center Inc. 12829 Interstate 30 Little Rock, AR 72209 (501) 425-0154 www.lifttruckservicecen terinc.com
Mainstream Technologies 325 W Capitol, Suite 200 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 801-6700 www.mainstream-tech.com
MASA MTS 260 Sugar Mill Drive Bowling Green, KY 42104 (270) 925-7508 www.MASAmts.com
Mass Enthusiasm, Inc.
11523 Kanis Road, Suite A Little Rock, AR 72211 (501) 658-5726 www.inthooz.com
Metro Disaster Specialists PO Box 959 N. Little Rock, AR 72115 (501) 747-8995 www.metrodisaster.com
MTS Contracting Inc. 2110 E Rockhurst St. Springfield, MO 65802 (417) 353-0666 www.mtscontracting.com
NABHOLZ || Entegrity Energy Partners 3301 N 2nd Street Rogers, AR 72756 (479) 659-7884 www.nabholz.com
National Medtest Inc. 601 Southwest Drive Jonesboro, AR 72401 (870) 931-1993 www.nationalmedtest.com
Nationwide Retirement Solutions 10 W. Nationwide Blvd Columbus, OH 43215 (479) 209-0787 www.nrsforu.com
Office of Attorney Gen eral Leslie Rutledge 323 Center St., Suite 200 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 682-3645 www.arkansasAG.gov
Pafford Medical Services PO Box 1120 Hope, AR 71802 (870) 451-3334 www.paffordems.com
Purple Wave Auction 825 Levee Dr Manhattan, KS 66502 (866) 608-9283 www.purplewave.com
QSI, Inc. 107 Schuler Drive Bardstown, KY 40004 (502) 373-9282 www.qsibanking.com
Raymond James 1100 Ridgeway Loop Road Memphis, TN 38120 (901) 531-3347 www.raymondjames.com
Records Consultants, Inc 21288 Gathering Oak, Suite 110 San Antonio, TX 78260 (210) 366-4127 www.rcitech.com
Reynolds Construction and Commercial Roofing 6610 Dollarway Road Pine Bluff, AR 71602 (870) 510-2143 www.reynoldsconstruction company.com
Roadway Management Technologies 425 W. Capitol Ave. Suite 1202 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 626-1313 www.roadman.tech
Ryburn Law Firm 650 Shackleford, Ste. 231 Little Rock, AR 72211 (501) 228-8100 www.ryburnlawfirm.com
SecureTech Systems 4500 Fuller Drive, Suite 135 Irving, TX 75038 (817) 869-0569 www.securetechwave.com
Smith Two Way Radio, Inc. 520 N College Ave. Fayetteville, AR 72701 (479) 443-2222 www.smithradio.com
SouthBuild, LLC 108 E. Mulberry St. Collierville, TN 38017 (901) 457-7690 www.southbuild.com
Southern Paramedic Service PO Box 88 Lonoke, AR 72086 (870) 480-6211 www.southernparamedic.com
Southern Tire Mart 800 Hwy 98 Columbia, MS 39429 (877) 786-4681 www.stmtires.com
Stephens Inc. — Public Finance Department
111 Center Street Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 377-2641 www.stephens.com
Sutterfield Technologies Inc. 101 N 14th St, Suite A Duncan, OK 73533 (580) 786-4390 www.sutterfieldtechnologies.com
SWEPCO/AEP 101 West Township Street Fayetteville, AR 72703 (479) 966-6279 www.swepco.com
TaxPRO 124 West Capitol Avenue Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 366-1603 www.gowithtaxpro.com
Telogix 5050 Quorum Drive Dallas, TX 75254 (870) 703-2409 www.Telogix.com
Time Striping PO Box 1236 Van Buren, AR 72957 (479) 651-4616 www.timestriping.com
TIPS — The Interlocal Purchasing System 4845 US Hwy 271 N Pittsburg, TX 75686 (866) 839-8477 www.tips-usa.com
Total Assessment Solutions Corp. PO Box 499 Glenwood, AR 71943 (870) 356-4511 www.totalassessments.com
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AAC COVER STORY
COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022 39
Columbia County Treasurer
Thenewest addition to the Association of Ar kansas Counties’ Board of Directors, Colum bia County Treasurer Selena Blair, has close ties to county government. Her late fatherin-law, John Blair, was a Columbia County judge. Her mother-in-law, Marjie Blair, was a long-time Columbia County justice of the peace.
Blair was born on a military base in Fort Ord, Califor nia, but lived there for only two weeks until her father was deployed to Vietnam. She and her mother moved back to Arkansas and lived with one of her aunts until her dad came home two years later. Blair was raised in Magnolia.
These days she lives on what she calls the “Blair Com pound” with her family in McNeill. She credits her late father-in-law for encouraging her to run for office after the previous treasurer retired. He knew her knowledge of accounting and previous work experience in a non-profit would make her a perfect fit for the office.
John Blair helped her navigate the questions she had about county government and the politics involved with running for office. Blair was successfully elected in 2014 and took office in 2015.
“I already worked at a non-profit agency, and I had an accounting degree, and it just seemed like the perfect op portunity and a different way to serve my community,” Blair said.
Blair has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Southern Arkansas University, from which she gradu ated summa cum laude. Before running for treasurer, she worked for the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Devel opment District for 12 years. There she was an accountant and a compliance specialist for the Workforce Investment Act, which afforded her the opportunity to also work on the programming side of the company.
Blair recently was elected by her peers to serve as presi dent of the Arkansas County Treasurers’ Association and to represent the county treasurers on the AAC Board of Directors. She previously served as vice president of the Treasurer’s Association for four years and then sat on the Treasurers’ Continuing Education Board for two years.
“It’s a great way to network and not only do things for my county but for the state as a whole,” she said.
Blair said she is looking forward to being a part of the AAC Board of Directors. She said she is excited to see the overall picture of where the AAC and the state of Arkansas are headed in the next 10 years — and to be a part of that
change and help direct that path.
Blair’s family ties run deep. Married for 30 years this year, she and her husband Kelly have two sons, Mark and Caleb, as well as a grandson, Hayden. She called her sons and her grandson her greatest accomplishments in life thus far. She had many great things to say about her mother-in-law, as well.
“She is so well rounded,” Blair said. “She has the best spiritual outlook, very supportive of her family, loving and kind, hard worker, very disciplined, and inspires greatness in others.”
Marjie Blair owns her own consulting company, keeps the grounds at church, and she cooks dinner for everyone on Sundays. She is a force to be reckoned with, and Blair admires her greatly.
Blair said she lives on the 300- acre family “compound” with many members of her immediate family as well as many members of her extended family.
“We just all take care of each other,” she said.
Blair stays busy with many different hobbies. When she is not working, she makes quilts, crochets, sews, and gardens. She also spends a lot of time playing with her 17-month-old grandson.
“He’s a lot of fun,” she says.
She also enjoys deer hunting. So, it sounds like Selena Blair is a force to be reckoned with like her mother-in-law.
AAC BOARD PROFILE
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MEMBER SERVICES MANAGER — James Mirus
Where were you born and raised? I have lived in Crawford County my entire life, just outside of Mountainburg.
Family information: My wife Whitney and I have five children — three girls and two boys.
My favorite meal: My favorite meal is steak and potatoes, but I also love sushi.
When I’m not working: We love to live the lake life. Our kids share our love of waters ports, hunting, and fishing.
The accomplishments of which I am most proud: Naturally, my children are the greatest accomplishments in life.
The hardest thing I have ever done is: hardest yet most rewarding thing I have ever done in life was serve as a law enforcement officer for over 12 years.
At the top of my bucket list is to: At the top of my buck et list is to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
You might be surpised to learn that: You might be surprised to know that even though I am hor rible at it, I love to sing and play the piano.
Motto or favorite quote: “Be the change you want to see in this world.” — Mahatma Gandhi
When did you start at the AAC and what projects have you been working on? I joined the AAC team on June 22, 2022. I have been working on the Guardian systems by analyzing the compliance processes. I want to figure out the best way Guardian can be used across the state in a manner most conducive to our goals and meet the specific needs and goals of our county jails and their employees.
RMS LITIGATION COUNSEL — Aaron Newell
Family information: My wife’s name is Emily, and we have two cats, Luna and Lucien. I have one brother, Austin, and a sister-in-law, Kylie. They have a newborn son, Barrett. My parents are Scott and Christy Newell.
My favorite meal: Chocolate gravy and biscuits.
When I’m not working: I am usually play ing golf, playing video games, or working on personal projects.
The accomplishments of which I am most proud: Graduating law school with honors and having my law review note published.
The hardest thing I have ever done is: Studying for the bar exam.
At the top of my bucket list is to: Go skiing/snowboarding in Colorado during the winter.
You might be surpised to learn that: I published a video game to the app store when I was in college, and I re
ally enjoy programming. (Unfortunately, the game is no longer on the store.)
My pet peeve is: When someone is inconsiderate towards someone else.
Motto or favorite quote: Anything from the Lord of the Rings books, but at the moment:
“And now leave me in peace for a bit! I don’t want to answer a string of questions while I am eating. I want to think!”
“Good Heavens!” said Pippin. “At breakfast?”
— The Fellowship of the Ring
When did you start at the AAC and what projects have you been working on? I started Aug. 10, and currently I am getting acquainted with our litigation system through examining statements of indisputable material facts that accompany our motions for summary judgment.
AAC STAFF PROFILE
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RMS EMPLOYMENT COUNSEL — Mallory Floyd
Where were you born and raised? I was raised in Marion, Arkansas.
Family information: I am the oldest of two daughters to Mike and Michelle Floyd. My lit tle sister’s name is Allyson. I am the dog mom to Betty the Bernedoodle (Bernese Mountain dog and Poodle).
My favorite meal: My favorite meal is lasa gna followed up with a piece of cheesecake.
When I’m not working: I’m working out at ZenStudio Fitness, cooking, or spend ing time with my friends and family.
The accomplishments of which I am most proud: Achieving my lifelong dream of being an attorney.
The hardest thing I have ever done is: Taking some of
my law school finals with a broken arm.
At the top of my bucket list is to: Travel more.
You might be surpised to learn that: I “drafted” my first contract when I was eight years old trying to avoid getting a shot.
My pet peeve is: When people drag their Motto or favorite quote: “Fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
When did you start at the AAC and what projects have you been working on? I started working for the AAC on Aug. 8, 2022. I am cur rently working on answering all of y’all’s employment law questions.
LAW CLERK — Dillon Cordel
Where were you born and raised? I was born in Virginia Beach, but moved when I was young and claim Southern Missouri as my home (Springfield, MO area).
Family information: My wife Brooklyn and I have a 2 1/2-year-old son, Theodore. Baby Virginia is expected Sept. 6.
My favorite meal: I love pizza.
When I’m not working: I’m in class, study ing, or spending as much time as I can with my family.
The accomplishments of which I am most proud: Being accepted into law school.
The hardest thing I have ever done is: Getting through law school.
At the top of my bucket list is to: One day I would like to go on a food tour across Europe, starting on the coast of Italy.
You might be surpised to learn that: I lived (as a student) in China for a little while.
My pet peeve is: When I forget my um brella and I am slightly damp for the next few hours.
Motto or favorite quote: A wise person creates more opportunities than he or she may find.
When did you start at the AAC and what projects have you been working on? I started working at the AAC in August 2022. I primarily work with the litigation team with the drafting of motions and other related documents involved in litigation.
AAC STAFF PROFILE
42 COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022
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County Clerks held their summer continuing education conference at Fairfield Bay/Van Buren County.
Above left: Baxter County Clerk Canda Reese and Dallas County Clerk Pam Barnes pose for a photo between study sessions. Above right: Crittenden County Deputy Clerk Linda Sykes and Crittenden County Clerk Paula Brown prepare for a presentation. Presentations covered topics such as FOIA, Election Security, and Human Resources, among other things.
Above left: Franklin County Clerk Tammy Sisson and Franklin County Chief Deputy Clerk Heather Lovelace are pictured. Above, right: Poinsett County Clerk Teresa Rouse and Poinsett County Election Coordinator Gina Oberg attended the conference.
Right: Boone County Clerk Crystal Graddy makes a stop in the exhibit area. Far right: St. Francis County Clerk Brandi McCoy visits a vendor’s table.
AAC PHOTO RECAP
44 COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022
Right: Now-retired AAC Member Benefits Manager Becky Comet presents on the meaning of “Wellness” and how to get there. Far Right: Mark Kirby with Cybersecurity & Infra structure Security Agency talks about cybersecurity practices.
Left: Treasurers elected a new slate of officers. Pictured on the front row: Continuing Education Board Members Karen Arnold (Clark), Judy Flowers (Hempstead), and Teresa Reed (Miller); Secretary Dayna Guthrie (Little River); Continuing Education Board Member Jenay Mize (Baxter); Vice-President Stacey Breshears (Ashley); and AAC Board Member Terry McNatt (Craighead). Pictured on the back row: Legislative Committee Member Janet Hibbits (White); Continuing Education Board Mem ber Deanna Ratcliffe (Benton); President and AAC Board Member Selena Blair (Columbia); Continuing Education Board Members Barry Abney (Fulton) and Warren Sanders (Izard); and Legislative Committee Members Bobby Hill (Washington), and Tim Stock dale (Garland). Not Pictured are Treasurer Loletia Rather (Pike); Legislative Committee Member Tammie Stafford (Poinsett); and Continuing Education Board Member Debra Buckner (Pulaski).
County Treasurers held their summer meeting June 22-24, in Fairfield Bay/Van Buren County.
Left: Eddie Jones, AAC Consultant speaks on the best practices for collateralizing public deposits Right: Dallas County Treasurer Louann Clayton (standing), Sevier County Treasurer Heather Barnes (left), and Carroll County Treasurer Makita Williams (right) pose for the camera.
AAC PHOTO RECAP
COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022 45
Right: Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison visits with platinum sponsor Homeland Safety Systems. Far right: Madison County Judge Frank Weaver (standing) speaks with Carroll County Judge Ronda Griffin. Boone County Judge Robert Hathaway sits next to her.
The County Judges Association of Arkansas met June 2224 in Hot Springs/Garland County.
Above left: Senate Pro-Tempore Designee Sen. Bart Hester served as keynote speaker for the Thursday luncheon, focusing mainly on criminal justice reform. Above right: Izard County Judge Eric Smith and state Land Commissioner Tommy Land visit in the exhibit hall.
Above left: Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass and Logan County Judge Ray Gack talk in between presentations. Above, right: Crawford County Judge Dennis Gilstrap and Franklin County Judge Rickey Bowman enjoy a break. Educational sessions focused on American Rescue Plan funds, unpaved roads, human resources, and more.
AAC PHOTO RECAP
46 COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022
Right: Shelby Johnson, Arkansas GIS Office, de livers a presentation about parcel errors Far Right: Pope County Assessor Dana Baker, who also serves on the AAC Board of Directors, and members of her staff attended the summer conference.
The County Assessor’s Association Summer conference was held June 21-24, in Mountain View/Stone County.
Left: Faulkner County was well-represented at the summer conference by Assessor Krissy Lewis and members of her staff. Right: Meeting attendees enjoyed an extracurricular activity — painting door hangers.
Left: Assessor’s liaison and AAC Legal Counsel Lindsey French chats with Assessor’s Association Past President and Jefferson County Assessor Yvonne Humphrey. Right: Assessors gather for a breakout session with ACT.
AAC PHOTO RECAP
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COUNTY CIRCUIT CLERKS
County Circuit Clerks met June 14-17 in Fayetteville/Washing ton County for their Summer continuing education conference.
Gwen Shankle, retired educator, speaks on understanding personaility assessments.
Benton County Circuit Clerk Brenda DeShields presents the newly elected members of the E-Recording Grant Committee.
Above left: Pictured are Independence County Circuit Clerk Greg Wallis, Cross County Circuit Clerk Rhonda Sullivan, and Jackson County Circuit Clerk Barbara Hackney.. Above right: The Circuit Clerks call the Hogs with former Razorback Coach Ken Hatfield.
Above left: Attorney Dara Young talks about unlawful detainers and evictions Above right: Independence County Chief Deputy Circuit Clerk Marcis Young chats with Stephanie Carper of Datascout.
AAC PHOTO RECAP
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The County Collectors summer conference was held June 6-8, in Fairfield Bay/Van Buren County.
Far left: Members of the Arkansas Tax Collector’s Association Executive Board are seated at the front of the room. Left: Collectors break into small groups to discuss collections on delinquent businesses, as well as mo bile homes.
Above left: Pulaski County Assistant Collections Managers, Donna McGlothian, Stefanie Shackelford, and Teresa Martin pose for a photo. Above right: Collector’s Association liaison and AAC Government Affairs Director Josh Curtis speaks at the meeting.
Pictured are Saline County Chief Deputy Collector Jennifer Center, Saline County Office Manager Rachel Buffington, and Saline County Improve ment District Manager Christy Scott.
Lincoln County Collector Melissa Bumpass and Crittenden County Collector Ellen Foote get some refreshments during a break.
AAC PHOTO RECAP
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The Arkansas Sheriff’s Association held its summer confer ence June 5-8, in Rogers/Benton County.
Saline County Sheriff Rodney Wright was elected president of the Sheriff’s Association executive board. He is picture with his brother, Randy, and sister-in-law, Amanda.
The Sheriff’s Association deemed Gov. Asa Hutchsinon an honorary sheriff for his devotion to law enforcement issues. Hutchinson is the 77th sheriff in the state. The association previously honored former Attorney General Dustin McDaniels. He is the 76th sheriff in the state.
Pictured is the association’s new executive board with the Hon. Circuit Judge Robin Green (middle), who performed the swearing in cer emony. The board includes Sergeant at Arms Hobe Runion (Sebastian); Sergeant at Arms Scott Sawyer (Polk); Executive Secretary John Staley (Lonoke); 2nd Vice President Shane Jones (Pope); President Rodney Wright (Saline); Financial Chair Shawn Holloway (Benton); Executive Secretary Mike Loe (Columbia); Secretary/Treasurer Tim Ryals (Faulkner); and 1st Vice President Dale Cook (Mississippi).
AAC PHOTO RECAP
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When you participate in the AAC Workers’ Compensation Trust, 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 govern ment claims – they’re simply the best at what they do!
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 $31.35 MILLION dollars in dividends, payable to members of the fund. In fact, we mailed $750,000 in savings back to member counties in July 2022.
The service is available for any size county government and other county govern ment-related entities. We’ve got you covered!
1415 West Third Street • Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Association of Arkansas Counties Workers’ Compensation Trust Members enjoy dividends! $31 Million paid since 1997 Experienced & licensed examiners covered We’ve got you Debbie Norman Risk Management & Insurance Director 501.375.8247 Debbie Lakey Claims Manager 501.375.8698 Kim Nash Claims Adjuster 501.375.8805, ext. 546 Renee Turner Claims Adjuster 501.375.8805, ext. 545 Kim Mitchell Premium Analyst 501.375.8805, ext. 541 Ellen Wood Admin. Assistant 501.375.8805, ext. 540 Brandy McAllister RMF General Counsel 501.375.8694
Workers’ Compensation Fund pays $750,000 in dividends to its member counties in 2022
TheAssociation of Arkansas Counties Workers’ Com pensation Trust is proud to announce that for the 26th straight year dividends will be returned to all participating counties. The 2022 dividend is declared based on 2018 pre miums paid and losses incurred. This brings the total dividends paid over the last 26 years to $31,448,953.
AAC Workers’ Compensation Trust Group Manager Chris Villines recommended the $750,000 dividend to the board of trustees at its June meeting. Checks were issued in July.
“There are several reasons that we are able to continue returning such large sums to the counties,” Villines said. “Our staff is excellent and efficient and the counties of Arkansas work hard to minimize risks at home. I cannot compliment our Risk Management and Insurance Director Debbie Norman enough. She has an incredible respon sibility and handles it wonderfully. The Workers’ Comp staff is equally adept. Debbie Lakey, Kim Nash, Renee Turner, Kim Mitchell, and Ellen Wood do an excellent job.”
AAC Risk Management and Insur ance Director Debbie Norman said, “From inception to today, this program has performed beyond expectations. It has always been our goal to reward counties with dividends, and this is the 26th straight year that successful man agement of the program and the com mitment to safety in our counties has allowed it to occur.”
AAC, along with county officials from around the state, created the AAC Work ers’ Compensation Trust in 1985 — a plan to pool resources and form a self-
funded, county-owned trust to provide premium Workers’ Compensation cov erage at a savings to members. The AAC Workers’ Compensation Trust is fully regulated by the State of Arkansas Work ers’ Compensation Commission. Cur rent trustees are Jimmy Hart, Conway County Judge; Debbie Wise, Randolph County Circuit Clerk; Debra Buckner, Pulaski County Treasurer; Brandon Elli son, Polk County Judge; and Rusty Mc Millon, Greene County Judge.
Here are the formulaic dividend amounts per county as approved by the AAC/WCT board:
Cleveland County.......................$4,555 Columbia County.......................$8,886
Hot Spring County.....................$8,697
Little River County...................$11,261
St. Francis County.......................$8,781
Van Buren County......................$8,995
www.arcounties.org 52 COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022
Arkansas counties receive $8 million in PILT payments
InJune, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced more than 1,900 local governments around the country will receive $549.4 million in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding for 2022. Since local governments cannot tax federal lands, annual PILT payments help to defray costs associated with maintaining important community services.
Arkansas, home to 3,254,757 acres of federal land, will receive $8,022,913 million in PILT payments. That’s $269,734 more than it received in FY2021.
PILT payments are made annually for tax-exempt federal lands administered by Department of the Interior agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation. Ad ditionally, PILT payments cover federal lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission. These payments are calculated based on the number of acres of federal land within each county or jurisdiction, and the population of that county or jurisdiction.
“This program is an important example of the federal govern ment’s commitment to continuing to be a good neighbor to the communities we serve. The nearly $550 million being distributed will help local governments carry out vital services, such as firefight ing and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.
Since PILT payments began in 1977, the Department has distrib uted more than $10.2 billion to states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Department collects more than $10.3 billion in revenue an nually from commercial activities on public lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing, and timber harvesting. A portion of these revenues is shared with states and counties. The balance is deposited in the U.S. Treasury, which in turn pays for a broad array of federal activities, including PILT funding.
Individual county payments may vary from year to year as a result of changes in acreage data, which is updated annually by the federal agen cy administering the land; prior-year federal revenue-sharing payments reported annually by the governor of each state; inflationary adjust ments using the Consumer Price Index; and population data, which is updated using information from the U.S. Census Bureau.
At right is a breakdown of the FY 2022 PILT payments to Ar kansas counties that contain federal lands. Not all Arkansas coun ties contain federal lands — Bradley, Cleveland, Drew, Grant, In dependence, Jackson, Lawrence, Lonoke, Miller, Nevada, Prairie, and Randolph counties. Calhoun, Crittenden, and White counties have 10, 2, and 42 acres of federal land, respectively, which was not enough to qualify for payments.
COUNTY PAYMENT ACRES
Arkansas Ashley Baxter Benton Boone Carroll Chicot Clark Clay Cleburne Columbia Conway Craighead Crawford Cross Dallas Desha Faulkner Franklin Fulton Garland Greene Hempstead Hot Spring Howard Izard Jefferson Johnson Lafayette Lee Lincoln Little River Logan Madison Marion Mississippi Monroe Montgomery Newton Ouachita Perry Phillips Pike Poinsett Polk Pope Pulaski Saline Scott Sebastian Sevier Sharp St. Francis Stone Union Van Buren Washington Woodruff Yell $20,442 $5,883 $294,612 $115,689 $40,464 $24,469 $1,328 $52,582 $1,313 $89,215 $389 $7,313 $8,132 $215,332 $118 $118 $11,826 $691 $307,343 $10,497 $449,345 $1,184 $15,271 $38,206 $44,878 $235 $10,295 $466,584 $3,144 $26,425 $112 $48,869 $320,598 $120,609 $219,330 $27,032 $38,724 $818,919 $554,256 $353 $239,893 $29,024 $81,098 $21,459 $479,199 $512,252 $5,185 $149,301 $842,739 $163,440 $56,725 $118 $740 $150,549 $1,963 $111,717 $65,147 $4,251 $551,348 6,958 2,130 110,800 40,125 13,773 8,329 452 17,898 447 30,803 160 7,163 2,768 86,104 40 40 4,025 242 120,806 3,573 161,829 403 5,198 13,029 15,571 80 3,504 194,961 1,070 11,909 38 16,634 124,160 48,471 74,952 9,201 13,181 357,703 236,990 120 100,603 11,042 29,537 7,304 205,933 200,678 1,765 58,622 368,023 76,698 19,308 40 252 61,478 668 42,088 25,068 1,447 242,859
— Courtesy of U.S. Department of the Interior press release
COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2022 53
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 coun ties. 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 innova tive solutions through education and research and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money.
Census Bureau launches new post-census review program
InJune 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau launched a new, one-time 2020 Post-Census Group Quarters Review (PCGQR) program to provide eligible local govern ments, including counties, parishes and boroughs, the opportunity to request reviews of population counts of group quarters they believe were not counted correctly as of April 1, 2020. This program was created in response to public feed back related to counting quarters’ populations during the un precedented COVID-19 public health emergency.
The Census Bureau defines “group quarters” as places where individuals live or stay, in a group living arrangement, owned or managed by an entity or organization providing housing and/or services for the residents. Group quarters types eligible for review under the PCGQR program include:
• Juvenile Facilities
• Correctional Facilities for Adults and Children
• Nursing Facilities/Skilled-Nursing Facilities
• Other Institutional Facilities
• College/University Student Housing
• Military Quarters
• Emergency and Transitional Shelters (with Sleeping Fa cilities) for People Experiencing Homelessness
• Group Homes Intended for Adults
• Residential Treatment Centers for Adults
• Workers’ Group Living Quarters and Job Corps Centers
Additionally, service-based locations (e.g. soup kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food vans, targeted non-sheltered outdoor locations) and sensitive group quarter types (e.g. domestic violence shelters) have been enumerated by the Census Bureau as ineligible for review under this program.
Updated population counts resulting from the PCGQR program cannot be used to change 2020 Census counts or data products, such as apportionment and redistricting. The updated data will, however, be provided to the Population Es timates Program and be used by other Census Bureau surveys such as the American Community Survey.
Counties interested in submitting a PCGQR case should consult the Census Bureau’s Participants Guide and Frequently Asked Questions. The Census Bureau has also created Response Templates that counties can use to prepare its submission.
Go to https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennialcensus/decade/2020/planning-management/evaluate/pcgqr. html for more information.
The deadline to submit all documentation is June 30, 2023. The Census Bureau will review cases on a rolling basis and notify all impacted governmental units of results no later than Sept. 30, 2023. NACO
This publication was made possible with the support of these advertising partners who have helped to underwrite the cost of County Lines. They deserve your consideration and patronage when making your purchasing decisions. For more information on how to partner with County Lines, please call Christy L. Smith at (501) 372-7550.
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