Winter 2015 County Lines

Page 1

The Official Publication of the Association of Arkansas Counties

County Lines WINTER 2015

Stately Lady is restored with grants


County Clerk

gets job done in Polk County 32

New Officials

go through AAC orientation 38

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In This Issue



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by Holly



Prog ervation



ady tely L A Sta

AHPP grant program has preserved historic White County Courthouse.

use urtho ty Co . A fiveCoun Cemeteryt county White Oak Groveperm anen land of es of ta s of to selec 10 acre ding featur ngs,” now the site lished donated log buil first toric Spri was estab Walker a one-story te County’s 8.50. d his Sulphur mission Crawford $13 Whi serve finance man com in 1839 sold to courthouse. gs, cost onlyd in a has pre t seat, and, which wasthe current its furnishinme embroile of 1812 te gram War to them hwest of pro Chris Program se, with ation beca of the making Whi t rk thou sout rans on Gran t cour original don to vete e Court, se location By Ma Preservati Searcy - just

ts in permanenngly, the land gran . Suprem nsas who Historic of a Clas rthouse sto. The Arkansas Interesti involving t to the U.Sone in Arka nty Cou t examples court. se and a two-cent te Cou the fines in ArkansasWhite kerfuffle tually wense the only highest of thou ory adja se. ly Whi and ding le-st he state today as onepublic buil Program preserve the that even courthou the nation’s a larger cour of sing ent courthou rnby needed stands val-style Preservation25 years to constitugove a pair County’s dicated pres county featuring site of the that decade, s were adju sical Revi Historic for nearly county’s 4 through was 1850, the plan building 00 on the 3,20 of the during ture and 1861. ther By Arkansas in $1,0 l d-frame ed toge ssible to all received $29 t programto struc to grow ry, woowas built for continued the 1850 constructedwas not unti have worke it acce nty has ion Gran addition a rew se to be s and it wings te County County and mak White Cou use Restorat ding, in to serve as 5 plan soon outg thou 201 rtho k buil Office As Whi ations larger cour those building e 1991, TER ailed oper Sinc County Couthe landmar cy Post te t er, . WIN men for a new Whi ents on P’s ever, curt ES, old Sear created made l War, how the AHP ration work are the . TY LIN mbly il the seat prep CO UN The Civi for resto grant to (see sidebar)l General Assethat “unt be and the te x another se anne ’s territoria 5, it decreed seat shall the Whi courthoun Arkansas 23, 183 temporaryid Crise near Whe on October ted, the e of Dav loca Countyce shall be at the hom of justi shall be held ts cour



County judges hold orientation..................................................................................37 o ff iC

ia l

P ro fi

AAC hosts newly elected county officials’ school...................................................38


Circuit Clerks gather in Little Rock............................................................................40

C o un

s into e every aspect a law that tells my job of our mat us

ter how job. wise. how you feeIt doesn’t realto We hav ly l pa e a job to do.” rty-



— Terri Harrison Polk Coun ty Clerk

Polk Coun ty Cle rk Te rri Ha By Jen nifer rrison Bar lets net For



the law , not

don politi e cs, be he

Coun rkansas’ ty Line t Reed s the mid county no exce dle of clerks ofte “It’s con County bated ption. As tentious n find county kind of them voter funn front Clerk Terr ID state legis issues, and selves in for her clerk’s offic y — lines. when lators whether 201 for a The i Harrisonlaws and e], you’ I first they y’re the one and her same-sex and judg 4 was som ll want few year my father-in And went had to to run, s, and it’s marriag es des who com ethi for mar to thei when -law said to work r offic show a driv told votepatriots wor e, Polk much I ng I wou ’” Harrison [in the she’s ld ever reall es that read , ‘You rs Non riage licen ked er’s same-se license on election the sheThe idea y, really enjo want tosaid. “I didny to retir can work term e of that contses. of cam days x coup to cast do. The ’t thin e, maybe said ention term as clerk of paig yed it.” les cam a ballo eral elec — she n I disc k that as had oppning mad e to app t. Harrisonpresiden Polk Countybothers Har tion overed was osition e Har ly of “The peop s — but how said shet of the Ark and her rison. Now quires that cam le in Polkthat didn in both rison a little second ansas – in her Asso the “As even if thatinstead ’t with year eigh people.”paign. “I County last long. primary nervous, into mycounty clerk changessimply focuciation of of a two th were and genreally Har -yea Cou ses from , job so rison r nty I to do on enjoyed goo every much,” shedon’t feel one week what the Clerks, from Aco , 44, is gettingd to me,” feel part like the aspect to the law re- college rn Hig a native said out and she said It’s a y-wise. We of our job.. “We have partisan next. the counin Mena h School of Polk visit job poli in 198 It does a law have for a Cou ing she was tics Har ty for elected rison has a job to do.”n’t really that tells us plays a Brodix, clerk’s officcouple of 8 and attenty. She grad been matter daughte a loca Harrison e in 199 years befo nded how to repl been uate l how you 4. Her ’s boss ace the doing sinc re goin commun d In the r in high manufac for seve retiring e 200 32 seen an 21 year school turer of cylinhusband g to wor ity n year county 1, shortly s she’s and a k , s. son in der head John, wor in wor “Whenenormous after clerk ks s. The colle amo ked who had I first becaI first start unt of in the coun ge. y have change. ed lot,” she me ty clerk clerk wor ’s offic People said. “We , all theking for the e, she’s in char county, voti had a ge of central ng was and even the poll don tabu ing plac lator at e by pap when es wou the cour er balCO UN ld brin thou g ballo se. TY LIN ts in ES,

r guide




nd & Frie



Collectors swear in officers, honor retiring colleagues..........................................42 ACD provides training for new assessors.................................................................43 AAC hosts legislators at Governor’s Mansion reception.......................................44 Treasurers stage “Fifth Quarter” dinner...................................................................46 AAC staff profile: Jarrod Kinnaird...............................................................................48

201 5


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Smart911 success stories..........................................................................................27

AAC Board profile: Debbie Wise.................................................................................35

“As a cou tisan nty clerk, I don’t po feel like much. parWe hav litics play do


AAC accepting applications for scholarship............................................................25

Inside Look



Unpaved Roads Program bill passes in Senate......................................................19

Desha County Collector named Woman of the Year..............................................30


Polk County Clerk Terri Harrison lets the law, not politics, be her guide.


From the Director’s Desk............................................................................................... 7 AAC honors two retiring members of its board.

ing o retir rs tw rs mber 2014 hono membe a Dece er Johnsonr. ks at form d Treasure Jacobs, boarDirector Chrid smemVillinberses spea Mike ton County, and Villines room Washing

er of the Executiveretiring boar ey, form at the front special gift. AAC a Han ered ring rum Top: Roger y hono gath bers with nty Quo Asceremon Judge, andd members board mem son Cou Court County and boar the retiring the John Supreme es on Arkansas AAC staff d each of now serv with compresente bs, whora (right) pose plaque son dson. crystal John left: Jaco Sand on Goo t. He Middle and his wife rtney Juds engraved who was ived an nt. Jacobs,board presidens later. Court, Justice Cou rece ey each governme serving t two year retiring. sociate and Han county ’s longestted presiden s before AAC Jacobs service to elec 36 year TemMiddle: ng their 24 years, was1997 and surer for in Elwanda JusmemoratiJudge for the board County Trea Peace r County e. of the Mille County inted to Washington Peac Justice nwater, ice of the as nty was appo ed Gille Just Cou serv bers Joe e County Haney Jackson officials Retired board mempson, Boon and state p in a right: AAC district led the grou at the ty, Middle speaks withand David Thom coun sang e and pleton the Peace, s to theJacobs spok he regularly , few word tune tice of same says a y. Afterward ey the Han ceremonSunshine,” erence. Bottom: ded the My conf who atten of “You Are al summer 5 ’s annu 201 rendition of AAC TER close CO





Attorney General Opinions..........................................................................................11 Legal Corner...................................................................................................................12 From the Governor........................................................................................................13 County Law Update.......................................................................................................17 Savings Times 2............................................................................................................18 Legislative Lines............................................................................................................19 Seems to Me..................................................................................................................20


Cover Notes: Winter Wonderland (Photo by Christy L. Smith) he week of February 22 finally brought wintry weather to Arkansas. What started out as ice on Sunday had become fluffy white snow by Wednesday. The National Weather Service had issued a winter weather advisory for Garland, Lonoke, Monroe, Montgomery, Polk, Prairie, Pulaski and Saline counties. Snowfall amounts ranged from 1-2 inches north of Little Rock to 6 inches in some Southern areas of the state. We captured photos of the AAC headquarters on Wednesday, just after the snow began blanketing the ground. — Information courtesy of the National Weather Service


It has been said that, at its best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern for the future.

— William Murtagh, First keeper of the Natonal Register of Historic Places





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March 17-18 Treasurers Embassy Suites, Little Rock

June 10-12 Judges Holiday Inn, Texarkana

March 25-27 County Clerks Wyndam, North Little Rock

June 10-12 Circuit Clerks Basin Park, Eureka Springs

March 25-27 Assessors Wyndam, North Little Rock

June 17-19 Collectors Holiday Inn, Texarkana

April 15-17 Collectors Embassy Suites, Little Rock

July 13-15 County Clerks Lake DeGray, Bismark

June 9-12 Assessors Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View


Calendar activities also are posted on our Web site:

Brenda Emerson, ACE Program Coordinator

Mark Whitmore, Chief Legal Counsel

Association of Arkansas Counties 1415 West Third Street Little Rock, AR 72201

Jonathan Greer, General Counsel

Scott Perkins, Communications Director

(501) 372-7550 phone (501) 372-0611 fax

Lindsey Bailey, Legal Counsel

Cindy Posey, Accountant Chris Villines, Executive Director

Jeanne Hunt, Executive Assistant

Christy L. Smith, Communications Coordinator

Whitney Barket, Secretary / Receptionist

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Mission Statement: The Association of Arkansas Counties


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

Risk Management / Workers’ Compensation Debbie Norman, Risk Management & Insurance Director, Risk Mgmt Services Debbie Lakey, Workers’ Comp Claims Manager Cathy Perry, Administrative Assist./Claims Analyst Kim Nash, Workers Comp Claims Adjuster Renee Turner, Workers Comp Claims Examiner Kim Mitchell, Administrative Assistant Brandy McAllister, RMS Counsel Becky Comet, Member Benefits Manager Barry Burkett, Loss Control Specialist Amber Krum, Administrative Assistant Elizabeth Sullivan, Admin. Assistant/Receptionist




Family & Friends

County Lines Magazine

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

AAC Executive Board: Judy Beth Hutcherson – President Debbie Wise – Vice President Bear Chaney – Secretary-Treasurer Sherry Bell Debra Buckner Cindy Walker Brandon Ellison Andrea Billingsley Jimmy Hart John Montgomery Patrick Moore Rhonda Cole Joe Gillenwater David Thompson Bill Hollenbeck Will Jones Debbie Cross National Association of Counties (NACo) Board Affiliations Ted Harden: Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Steering Committee. He serves on the Jefferson County Quorum Court.

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

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AAC: Being resilient in the face of change

Director’s Desk


Chris Villines any times this magazine covers AAC change in county government. Executive Director Sometimes these changes impact us very little at the Association, but there are times like these when the changes loom much larger. This is one of those latter times. Being an officer on the AAC Board of Directors is an honorable position. It means that you have ascended as a leader and both your peers and also a statewide network recognize your ability. It is no surprise that Judy Beth Hutcherson, the Clark County Treasurer and new president of the Association of Arkansas Counties, has arrived at this point. The same can be said for our newly elected Vice President Debbie Wise, Randolph County Circuit Clerk. And let’s not forget that Bear Chaney, former Benton County Assessor, was elected as secretary/treasurer to our board a couple weeks before he accepted the Assessment Coordination Department director position. These individuals are leaders and advocates for great county government. Congratulations to a deserving group. They are to be commended for being elected locally, within their associations, and now on a statewide platform to help lead us forward. They will do a tremendous job representing all of you in county government as we press on. But as Madame President Hutcherson said, “The shoes to be filled are enormous.” I could fill volumes of magazines with the experiences Mike Jacobs, former AAC president and Johnson County Judge, and Roger Haney, former Washington County Treasurer and AAC vice president, have had in county government, and even more in their roles as committee members for the National Association of Counties. They have served their counties well, the state of Arkansas and counties across the nation. Jacobs has not only impacted Johnson County in a very positive manner during his 24 years as county judge, but he has also helped guide AAC through a coming of age during the last 15 years as association president. His fingerprint on AAC will be long lasting. Thank you, Judge Jacobs. You are our sunshine. Haney, who served as Washington County Treasurer for 36 years before his retirement, has been a calm and stable board of director officer for





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three years. His work for the Arkansas Treasurers AsThis 90th Arkansas General Assembly’s pace will soon begin to slow down; sociation of Arkansas as however we will focus legislative chair has served on finishing it strong Arkansas treasurers well. ur new leadership on the board of for county government. Thank you Roger, and we Our focus will then wish you the very best in directors comes on the heels of a turn to reporting to the next phase of your life. facility expansion last summer, growth in our Risk county officials about The show must go on. the bills that manifestOur new leadership Management Service and Workers’ Compensation ed into acts and their on the board of directors impact on our role as a comes on the heels of a subdivision of the state. programs, the reorganizing and additions to our facility expansion last sumThe show does go on mer, growth in our Risk for county government. policy and lobbying team and a commitment to Management Services and We’re thankful for our Workers’ Compensation top-notch continuing education, communications past leaders and what programs, the reorganizing they have accomplished and additions to our policy for county government and member benefits. and lobbying team and a and AAC and we look commitment to top-notch forward to the future under the next leaders continuing education, comof the association. 75 Counties. One voice. munications and member benefits.


AAC board of directors elects new officers The Association of Arkansas Counties’ Board of Directors met on Feb. 11, 2015, and elected new officers, as it does every two years. The board also welcomed three new members at its first meeting of 2015: Greene County Treasurer Debbie Cross, Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison and Columbia County Collector Cindy Walker. They replace White County Collector Sue Liles,

former president of the County Collectors Association, and the now retired Johnson County Judge Mike Jacobs and Washington County Treasurer Roger Haney. Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson administered the oath of office to the new officers before a crowd that included AAC staff, county elected officials, legislators and other guests.

Above left: Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson swears in Judy Beth Hutcherson, Clark County Treasurer, as the AAC Board of Directors’ new president. Above right: Pictured here are Secretary/Treasurer Bear Chaney, former Benton County Assessor, who has been appointed director of the state’s Assessment Coordination Department; President Judy Beth Hutcherson, Clark County Treasurer; Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson; and Vice-President Debbie Wise, Randolph County Circuit Clerk and chair of AAC’s Legislative Committee. 8


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


AACRMF benefits continue to strengthen program!

r u o y T n i s ’ What ty ? n u o c n GUARDIAN RFID has been exclusively endorsed by the National Sheriffs’ Association since 2008 and was the first product in the world to earn this distinction. n GUARDIAN RFID is the only Inmate Management System in the world that exclusively leverages radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.

n Guardian Inmate tracking system GUARDIAN RFID is 20x faster and more defensible than barcode.

n Codification of county ordinances.

Accessing your ordinances is made efficient by AAC compiling your substantive county ordinances and codifying them into a single-bound volume.

Debbie Norman RMF Director 501.375.8247

Cathy Perry Claims Analyst 501.375.8805

Barry Burkett Loss Control 501.375.8805

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



n Partnership with Metro to provide P.O.M Services Your peace of mind partnership for emergency claim services. RMFMembers receive priority response with participation in the AAC Property Program.

n Drug testing

Free CDL drug testing with participation in the RMF Auto Program.

Amber Krum Admin. Assist. 501.375.8805

Brandy McAllister RMS Counsel 501.375.8694

RMF Legal Defense Provided By


Family & Friends

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AG Opinions: From vacancies to invoices for extradition services AG OPINION NO. 2014-133

The AG interpreted ACA 7-4-102, which provides for the election of the county committee of the county board of election commissioners. The AG noted that election commissioners represent and serve at the pleasure of their respective party committees for two-year terms. In the event of a vacancy during the two-year term of office, the county party committee that elected a vacating commissioner will fill the vacancy. Election commissioners may be removed by majority vote of their respective party committee under ACA 7-4-105. After the majority party has changed under a general election, the (new) majority party shall, in January of each odd number year, elect two (2) members of the county committee and the (new) minority party shall elect one (1) member to the county committee as provided by ACA 7-4-102. See also AG Opinion 2013-023.

AG OPINION NO. 2014-070

The AG determined that the providing or subsidizing health insurance for public school employees, non-state employees, means the state can likewise provide or subsidize other similar groups of public employees (other than state employees). The AG noted that the extension of and subsidy for health insurance to public school employees (and public school employees are by law not state employees) neither empowers nor forecloses provid-

AG Opinions

ing health insurance coverage or subsidies for similar public employees (so long as there is a public purpose). The AG noted there may be legislative priorities that prompted the legislature to single out public schools district employees for receipt of subsidies for health insurance. Counties are subdivisions of the state, and county employees are mandated duties by the Arkansas Constitution and laws enacted by the legislature. However, counties and county employees are not currently afforded the benefits of health insurance subsidies by the state.

contract even if omitted by the parties. ACA 14-14910 explicitly directs the submission, review and approval by the Mark Whitmore county attorAAC Chief Counsel ney of interlocal agreements made under this provision of Arkansas Code.

AG OPINIONS NO. 2014-081 & 2014-102

AG OPINION NO. 2014-100

The AG noted some broad requirements in the law pertaining to jail agreements between cities and a county. The AG noted that the signature of a sheriff to an agreement affixing a reimbursement rate for cities in a county is not required (and noted AG Opinion 2006-124 concerning the need for county judge approval for a jail phone contract, etc). The AG noted an interlocal agreement under ACA 14-14-910 may not be made to last “forever” or to be only susceptible to termination by one party. ACA 14-14-910 explicitly directs inclusion of provisions affording termination by either party upon six (6) months notification of intent to withdraw. The AG noted that the explicit termination provisions under ACA 14-14-910 would be part of the

The AG determined that absent a lawful agreement between a city and a county, a county has no obligation to pay invoices submitted by a city to retrieve a suspect under a felony warrant outside the jurisdiction or for the costs incurred by an extradition service. There is no section of Arkansas Code that indicates that a county is obligated to a city for their costs in retrieving a felony suspect outside their jurisdiction. The AG noted that the General Assembly had long ago pervasively legislated in the area of costs, fines, sentences and fees under Title 16, Chapters 90, 92 and 93 and the law is exclusive. Cities are prohibited from local legislation in this area of law or unilaterally asserting an obligation from the county to reimburse the city where no obligation exists under the law or by agreement.

75 Counties - One Voice COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015



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County employers and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978


By JONATHAN GREER, AAC General Counsel & MARK WHITMORE, AAC Chief Counsel

s AAC celebrates staff member Whitney Barket’s news that she is pregnant with twins, we thought it might be a good time to review some legal information with regards to expecting employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) was adopted by Congress to make clear that discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). BACKGROUND These Questions and Answers address the EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues (Guidance) released on July 14, 2014, and available at: The guidance includes discussions of: • When employer actions may constitute unlawful discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA); • The obligation of employers under the PDA to provide pregnant workers equal access to benefits of employment such as leave, light duty, and health benefits; and • How Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which went into effect over a decade after the PDA and was amended in 2008 to broaden the definition of disability, applies to individuals with pregnancy-related impairments. The PDA clarifies that discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is a prohibited form of sex discrimination. It requires that employers treat women affected by pregnancy or related medical conditions the same way they treat non-pregnant applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. Title I of the ADA prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability and requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to the known limitations of otherwise qualified employees and applicants for employment. Although pregnancy itself is not a disability, impairments related to pregnancy can be disabilities if they substantially limit one or more major life activities or substantially limited major life activities in the past. The ADA also covers pregnant workers who are regarded as having disabilities. Both the PDA and the ADA apply to county government employers with 15 or more employees. GENERAL PROHIBITIONS AND REQUIREMENTS 1. What workplace actions are prohibited under the PDA? Under the PDA, an employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, demote or take any other adverse action against a woman if pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition was a motivating factor in the adverse employment action. The PDA prohibits discrimination with respect to all aspects of employment, including pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training and fringe benefits (such 12

as leave and health insurance). 2. Does the PDA protect individuals who are not currently pregnant based on their ability or intention to become pregnant? Yes. The PDA’s protection extends to differential treatment based on an employee’s fertility or childbearing capacity. Thus sex-specific policies restricting women from certain jobs based on childbearing capacity, such as those banning fertile women from jobs with exposure to harmful chemicals, are generally prohibited. An employer’s concern about risks to a pregnant employee or her fetus will rarely, if ever, justify such restrictions. Sex-specific job restrictions can only be justified if the employer can show that lack of childbearing capacity is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ), that is, reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the business. (See also Question 7, below.) An employer is also prohibited from discriminating against an employee because she has stated that she intends to become pregnant. Thus, demoting an employee with a good performance record two weeks after she informed her manager that she was trying to become pregnant would constitute evidence of pregnancy discrimination. 3. May an employer ask an employee or applicant whether she is pregnant or if she intends to become pregnant soon? Although Title VII does not prohibit employers from asking applicants or employees about gender-related characteristics such as pregnancy, such questions are generally discouraged. The EEOC will consider the fact that an employer has asked such a question when evaluating a charge alleging pregnancy discrimination. Adverse decisions relating to hiring, assignments or promotion that are based on an employer’s assumptions or stereotypes about pregnant workers’ attendance, schedules, physical ability to work or commitment to their jobs are unlawful. 4. Is an employee or applicant protected from discrimination because of her past pregnancy? Yes. An employee or applicant may not be subjected to discrimination because of a past pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition. For example, an employer would violate the PDA by terminating an employee shortly after she returns from medicallyrelated pregnancy leave following the birth of her child if the employee’s pregnancy is the reason for the termination. Close proximity between the employee’s return to work and the employer’s decision to terminate her, coupled with an explanation for the termination that is not believable (e.g., unsubstantiated performance problems by an employee who has always been a good performer), would constitute evidence of pregnancy discrimination. 5. What are examples of medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth? Medical conditions related to pregnancy may include symptoms such as back pain; disorders such as preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure) and gestational diabetes; complications COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015


Family & Friends

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requiring bed rest; and the after-effects of a delivery. Lactation is also a pregnancy-related medical condition. An employee who is lactating must be able to address lactation-related needs to the same extent as she and her coworkers are able to address other similarly limiting medical conditions. For example, if an employer allows employees to change their schedules or use sick leave for routine doctor appointments and to address non-incapacitating medical conditions, then it must allow female employees to change their schedules or use sick leave for lactation-related needs. In addition to being protected under the PDA, female hourly employees who are breastfeeding have rights under other laws, including a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide reasonable break time and a private place for breastfeeding employees to express milk. WORKERS WITH CAREGIVING RESPONSIBILITIES

verse actions based on assumptions or stereotypes are prohibited. For instance, it is unlawful for an employer to involuntarily reassign a pregnant employee to a lower paying job involving fewer deadlines based on an assumption that the stress and fast-paced work required in her current job would increase risks associated with her pregnancy. An employer may only reassign a pregnant worker based on concerns about her health or the health of her fetus if it can establish that non-pregnancy or non-fertility is a BFOQ as described in Question 2, above. In very few, if any, situations will an employer be able to establish this defense. 8. May an employer take an adverse action against a pregnant worker because of the views or opinions of co-workers or customers? No. Just as an employer cannot refuse to hire or retain a pregnant woman because of its own prejudices against pregnant women, it cannot take an adverse action against a pregnant worker because of the prejudices of co-workers, clients or customers. For instance, an employer may not place a pregnant worker who can perform her job on leave based on her co-workers’ belief that she will place additional burdens on them and interfere with their productivity.

6. Does the law provide protections for caregivers? Discrimination based on an employee’s caregiving responsibilities may violate Title VII if it is based on sex. For instance, an employer would violate Title VII by denying job opportunities to women, but not to men, with young children, or by reassigning a woman who has recently HARRASSMENT returned from maternity leave to less desirable work 9. Does the PDA protect dverse employment actions, including based on the assumption employees from harassment that, as a new mother, based on pregnancy, childshe will be less commitbirth, or related medical conthose related to hiring, assignments or ted to her job. Although ditions? leave related to pregnanYes. Unwelcome and ofpromotion, that are based on an employer’s ascy, childbirth or related fensive jokes or name-calling, medical conditions can physical assaults or threats, sumptions or stereotypes about pregnant workers’ be limited to women afintimidation, ridicule, insults, fected by those conditions, offensive objects or pictures, attendance, schedules, physical ability to work or if an employer provides and interference with work parental leave, it must be performance that is motivated provided to similarly situby pregnancy, childbirth or recommitment to their jobs, are unlawful. ated men and women on lated medical conditions may the same terms. In addiconstitute unlawful harasstion, employers covered by ment. Whether the conduct is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) must provide eligible sufficiently hostile to constitute unlawful harassment depends on employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to care for factors such as the frequency of the conduct or its severity. Employand bond with a newborn baby or a recently adopted child. Dis- er liability can result from the conduct of supervisors, coworkers or crimination based on an employee’s caregiving responsibilities may non-employees such as customers or business partners over whom violate the ADA if it is based on the employee’s relationship with the employer has some control. an individual with a disability. EQUAL ACCESS TO BENEFITS CONCERNS ABOUT SAFETY AND ABILITY TO PERFORM THE JOB An employer is required under the PDA to treat an employee temporarily unable to perform the functions of her job because 7. Will an employer violate the PDA if it takes an adverse of her pregnancy or a related medical condition in the same manaction against a pregnant worker based on concerns about her ner as it treats other employees similar in their ability or inability health and safety? to work, whether by providing modified tasks, alternative assignYes. Although an employer may, of course, require that a preg- ments or fringe benefits such as disability leave. nant worker be able to perform the duties of her job, adverse employment actions, including those related to hiring, assignments or LIGHT DUTY promotion, that are based on an employer’s assumptions or stereotypes about pregnant workers’ attendance, schedules, physical abil10. If a pregnant employee needs light duty (temporary work ity to work or commitment to their jobs, are unlawful. Even when an employer believes it is acting in an employee’s best interest, adSee “DISCRIMINATION” on Page 14 > > >





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DISCRIMINATION that is less physically demanding than her normal duties), is the employer required under the PDA to provide it? Yes, if it provides light duty for employees who are not pregnant but who are similar in their ability or inability to work. An employer may not treat pregnant workers differently from employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work based on the cause of their limitations. For example, an employer may not deny light duty to a pregnant employee based on a policy that limits light duty to employees with on-the-job injuries. 11. Does EEOC’s interpretation of the PDA create preferential treatment for pregnant workers? No. Consistent with the language of the law, the EEOC’s position is that the PDA requires only that an employer treat pregnant workers the same as it treats workers who are not pregnant but who are similar in their ability or inability to work. Thus, an employer may offer light duty to pregnant employees on the same terms that it offers light duty to other workers similar in their ability or inability to work. For example, if an employer’s policy places certain types of restrictions on the availability of light duty positions, such as limits on the number of light duty positions or the duration of light duty, the employer may lawfully apply the same restrictions to pregnant workers as it applies to non-pregnant workers. If an employer does not provide light duty to employees who are not pregnant, it does not have to do so for pregnant workers. LEAVE 12. May an employer require a pregnant employee who is able to perform her job to take leave at any point in her pregnancy or after childbirth? No. An employer may not force an employee to take leave because she is or has been pregnant, as long as she is able to perform her job. Requiring leave violates the PDA even if the employer believes it is acting in the employee’s best interest. If an employee has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy-related condition and then recovers, her employer may not require her to remain on leave until the baby’s birth; nor may an employer prohibit an employee from returning to work for a certain length of time after childbirth. 13. May an employer impose greater restrictions on pregnancy-related medical leave than on other medical leave? No. Under the PDA, an employer must allow women with physical limitations resulting from pregnancy to take leave on the same terms and conditions as others who are similar in their ability or inability to work. Thus, an employer: • May not fire a pregnant employee for being absent if her absence is covered by the employer’s sick leave policy; • May not require employees limited by pregnancy or related medical conditions to first exhaust their sick leave before using other types of accrued leave if it does not impose the same requirements on employees who seek leave for other medical conditions; • May not impose a shorter maximum period for pregnancyrelated leave than for other types of medical or short-term disability leave; and • Must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled due to pregnancy to take leave without pay to the same extent that other 14

Continued From Page 13


employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work are allowed to do so. An employer must also hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence for the same length of time that jobs are held open for employees on sick or temporary disability leave. If the pregnant employee used leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the employer must restore the employee to her original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. Note that under the ADA, an employer may have to provide leave in addition to that provided under its normal leave policy as a reasonable accommodation for someone with a pregnancy-related impairment that is a disability. 14. Must an employer provide leave to bond with, or care for, a newborn (called “parental leave” in the Guidance)? Under the PDA, leave related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions may be limited to women affected by those conditions, but parental leave must be provided to similarly situated men and women on the same terms. If, for example, an employer extends leave to new mothers beyond the period of recuperation from childbirth, it cannot lawfully refuse to provide an equivalent amount of leave to new fathers for the same purpose. In addition, the FMLA requires covered employers to provide 12 weeks of job-protected leave for covered employees to care for and bond with a newborn baby or a recently adopted child. HEALTH INSURANCE 15. Are employers who provide health insurance benefits required to provide insurance that includes coverage of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions? Yes. Employers who have health insurance benefit plans must apply the same terms and conditions for pregnancy-related costs as for medical costs unrelated to pregnancy. If the plan covers preexisting conditions — as all health plans are required to do as of January 1, 2014, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — then it must cover the costs of an insured employee’s preexisting pregnancy. If the plan covers a particular percentage of the medical costs incurred for nonpregnancy-related conditions, it must cover the same percentage of recoverable costs for pregnancyrelated expenses. Employers can violate the PDA by providing health insurance that excludes coverage of prescription contraceptives, whether the contraceptives are prescribed for birth control or for medical purposes. To comply with Title VII, an employer’s health insurance plan must cover prescription contraceptives on the same basis as prescription drugs, devices and services that are used to prevent the occurrence of medical conditions other than pregnancy. For example, if an employer’s health insurance plan covers preventive care for medical conditions other than pregnancy, such as vaccinations, physical examinations or prescription drugs to prevent high blood pressure or to lower cholesterol levels, then prescription contraceptives also must be covered. Source: Questions and Answers about the EEOC’s Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues found at COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015


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Governor unveils prison plan


f you picked up the newspaper the other day, you may have noticed this headline: “One killed, three injured in shooting….” Like you, I’m tired of reading these stories. Public safety has always been a critical issue, but lately, because of crowding in our prisons and jails, public safety is on everyone’s mind. And stories like this one make us even more frustrated. How do we stop this cycle of violence? It’s a fair question. It deserves an answer. Let’s look at the facts: Arkansas has too many prisoners and not enough prison space. As of last week, we were above capacity in our state prisons, and because of that, more than 2,500 inmates are backed up in county jails. As any sheriff and prosecutor will tell you, there is a crying need for more prison space. The lack of bed space causes a dangerous chain reaction: state prisoners fill up our county jails, repeat offenders are released on bond because there’s no room, and some prisoners are released early. Last year, more than 10,000 inmates were released from prison on parole. Our parole system couldn’t handle that increased caseload. So instead of holding parolees accountable and providing them reentry support, too many parolees became repeat offenders. It’s a vicious cycle. It puts the safety of the public at risk. It also slows the economic growth of our state. Businesses and entrepreneurs may be wary of relocating where there’s a crime problem. What you think about when you consider a job change or a move to another state? Is it safe? How is the quality of life? Can I be comfortable raising my family there?

From The Governor

It’s all tied back to public safety. On Wednesday (Feb. 18), I announced my Public Safety Plan. My plan is a three-part approach to criminal offenses. First, we need more prison space. Second, we need a more effective parole and reentry system, and third, we have to invest in alternative and accountable sentencing programs for non-violent offenders. The total cost is $64 million with an investment of $32 million within Hon. ASA the current budget. HuTCHINSON After I announced my plan, I was Governor of Arkansas asked why this approach is better than simply building another state prison. For one, building a new prison would cost about $100 million. So we’re saving a substantial amount of money. Secondly, and more importantly, a $100-million prison does not change behavior. My plan not only invests in more prison space but it gives us our best chance to reduce the number of repeat offenders. This way, maybe we won’t face the need to build new prisons again and again. It’s time we broke the cycle.

Asa Hutchinson The Honorable Asa Hutchinson Governor of Arkansas

Asa Hutchinson sworn in as 46th governor of Arkansas Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah administered the oath of office to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on January 13, 2015. Raised in Gravette, Gov. Hutchinson was the youngest district attorney in the nation in 1982. He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, as director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and as Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Since taking office as governor, he has proposed increasing from $28 to $30 a day the reimbursement rate county jails receive from the state for housing felony inmates. And during a Feb. 18, 2015, news conference he announced a $64 million prison reform plan that would create an additional 790 beds and seek to change behavior through investments in the parole system, a new societal re-entry system, and alternative sentencing arrangements for nonviolent offenders.




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Quorum court consent not required for judges to enter into contracts


he county judge is authorized by law to enter into contracts on behalf of the county, and the quorum court’s consent to such contracts is not required. The county judge can, however, enter into such contracts only if the funds for such contracts have been previously appropriated by the quorum court. ACA 14-14-1102(b)(2)(C)(ii) Constitution Provides Contracting Power: The county judge is authorized by law to enter into contracts on behalf of the county, and the quorum court’s consent to such contracts is not required (Amendment 55, § 3 of the Arkansas Constitution) ... the county judge can enter into such contracts only for which the funds have been previously appropriated by the quorum court. “The county judge shall have the authority to enter into necessary contracts or other agreements to obligate county funds and to approve expenditure of county funds appropriated therefor in the manner provided by law.” ACA 14-14-1102(b)(2)(C)(ii) (emphasis added). “The county judge, as the chief executive officer of the county, shall be responsible for the employment of the necessary personnel or for the purchase of labor or services performed by individuals or firms employed by the county, or an agency thereof, for salaries, wages, or other forms of compensation.” ACA 14-14-1102(b)(5) (A). See AG Op. No. 2003-012. Arkansas General Assembly Provides Contracting Procedures: The county judge must comply with all applicable laws governing the procedures for entering into the type of contract in question. Contractual procedures for professional services and for general contracting services differ. The county judge may not solicit bids for professional services. See ACA 19-11-801 et seq. County bidding procedures for other contracts are set forth in ACA 14-22-101 et seq. Quorum Court Provides Funding for the Contract: The county judge’s power to obligate the county is limited by the power of the quorum court to appropriate county funds. That limitation is reflected in ACA 14-14-1102(b)(2)(C)(ii), quoted above. The limitation is stated more explicitly elsewhere. “No money shall be paid out of the treasury until it shall have been appropriated by law and then only in accordance with the appropriation; and all contracts for erecting and repairing the public buildings in any county or for materials therefor, or for providing for the care and feeding of paupers where there are no public or private facilities or services available for such purpose, shall be given to the lowest

County Law Update

possible bidder under such regulations as may be prescribed by law.” ACA 1414-1102(b)(2)(C)(i). No county court or agent of any county shall make any contract on behalf of the county unless an appropriation has been previously made therefor and is wholly or in part unexpended. In no event shall any county court or agent of any county make any contract in excess of any Mike Rainwater appropriation made, and the amount Risk Management of the contract shall be limited to the Legal Counsel amount of the appropriation made by the county quorum court. ACA 1420-106. Since the quorum court must appropriate funds for county contracts before the county judge can enter into contracts obligating the county, it follows that if the county judge has entered into a contract for which funds have not yet been appropriated, a violation of the law has occurred, and the quorum court is under no legal obligation to appropriate the funds for such a contract (although the quorum court may choose to appropriate funds for a contract already entered into by the county judge, thus ratifying the judge’s action). The quorum court has the exclusive authority to appropriate county funds. ACA 14-14-904(b). It would constitute a violation of the principle of separation of powers if the county judge were permitted to obligate the quorum court to appropriate funds. See ACA 14-14-502. See AG Op. No. 2003-012. County Judge Chooses the Vendor: The quorum court cannot designate specific vendors to be awarded county contracts. Because, as noted previously, the county judge has been granted the authority and responsibility for entering into contracts on behalf of the county (See Ark. Const., Am. 55, § 3; A.C.A. § 14-141102), it would constitute a violation of the principle of separation of powers for the quorum court to dictate to the county judge the details of how this authority and responsibility is to be carried out. ACA 14-14-502. Although the quorum court’s appropriation must be as specific as possible (See ACA 14-20-103; AG Op. No. 2000-064), it would go beyond the scope of the quorum court’s authority for a quorum court to dictate the specific parties with whom a county judge may enter into contracts on behalf of the county. The judge’s authority, of course, will be subject to the limitations of the statutorily required procedures that govern such contracts. See AG Op. No. 2003-012. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015




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Heart News

id you know ...

• Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for both men and women in the United States, claiming, approximately one million lives annually. • Every 33 seconds someone in the United States dies from cardiovascular disease. That is roughly the equivalent of a September 11-like tragedy repeating itself every 24 hours, 365 days a year. • About one of every six healthcare dollars in the United States is spent on treating cardiovascular disease. Annual U.S. cardiovascular disease costs exceed $192.1 billion in direct medical expenses and $312.6 billion when indirect expenses are included. How does Arkansas stack up? Did you know ... • Arkansas ranks 48th out of 50 states for overall health. Only Louisiana and Mississippi have lower rankings. • Arkansas ranks fifth in the nation for deaths due to coronary heart disease. • Arkansas ranks first in the nation for stroke mortality, followed by Alabama and Mississippi. • 66 percent of Arkansans are overweight or obese. [Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25-30 = overweight; BMI of 30+ = obese.] • 50 percent have high blood pressure and 25 percent of those do not even know it; only 33 percent of those with high blood pressure have it under control. Why am I quoting health statistics, especially those related to heart health? February is American Heart Month. President Lyndon B. Johnson, a heart attack survivor, correctly wrote in Proclamation 3566 of 1964, which declared February American Heart Month, of the “staggering physical and economic loss to the nation” due to cardiovascular diseases. Research, education and funding have brought a marked decrease in cardiovascular related diseases since the 1960s. However, even with all the advances, cardiovascular diseases continue to claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Furthermore, contrary to long-held opinions, heart disease is not just for men. Every year since 1984, more women than men have died of heart disease and stroke. The sad fact for Arkansans is that we rank ahead of the national average in most every area related to heart health. This is not an instance when we want to be at the top of the list. Many of the risk factors for heart disease are things we have some control over. We cannot control our risk due to age, gender or heredity. But we can take the necessary steps to control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking/tobacco use, diabetes, weight, physical inactivity and inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables. What does all this mean for counties, their elected officials and employees? How does all this affect the bottom line? Putting the human aspect aside, let’s look at the dollars and cents of it. Cardiovascular-related diseases cost the counties money in insurance costs, time lost and productivity. As stated above, about one of every six healthcare dollars in the United States is spent on treating cardiovascular disease. It bears repeating that annually in the United States, cardiovascular disease costs exceed $192.1 billion in direct medical expenses and $312.6 billion when indirect expenses are included. According to the 18

Savings times 2

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Wallet & waistline reducing the average BMI in Arkansas by 5 percent could lead to a healthcare savings of more than $2 billion in 10 years and $6 billion in 20 years. I don’t care who you are, that is a lot of money. (Personal disclaimer: BMI, in my opinion, is not the best health measurement related to weight. However, it is the preferred measurement for most health insurance companies.) Why should your county get Becky Comet involved to reverse the trends of AAC Member cardiovascular-related diseases? The Benefits Manager little money counties have must be used wisely. According to the American Heart Association the return on investment looks pretty good: • For every $1 spent in wellness programs, companies could save $3.27 in medical costs and $2.73 in absenteeism costs. • Some interventions have shown to help improve nutrition and activity habits in just one year and had a return of $1.17 for every $1 spent. • Participants in community-based programs who focused on improving nutrition and increasing physical activity had a 58 percent reduction in incidence of type 2 diabetes (a heart disease risk factor) compared with drug therapy, which had a 31 percent reduction. What can you do in your county to benefit your people as well as your county’s bottom line? Pick one or two of the risk factors mentioned above that most affects the people in your offices. Focus your efforts on those factors. In Arkansas, like many other states, heart diseases are common because many people in our state struggle with living a healthy lifestyle. The main lifestyle problems are tobacco use, lack of physical activity and a poor diet lacking in fruits and vegetables. (An interesting side note is that February’s American Heart Month is followed by March’s National Nutrition Month.) Get creative. Have a health fair to educate people. Start a walking group. Have a stand-and-stretch minute every hour. Have a monthly “healthy” potluck with a prize for the best dish. A health professional at your local hospital probably would volunteer to do health screenings or to share some tips for creating a healthy lifestyle. Is there a room in your building that is not being used? Turn it into a fitness room. You probably know a few people who have unused fitness equipment in their homes. They might be willing to donate it to your cause. There are a number of things that can be done that cost very little or nothing at all. We Arkansans are resourceful and creative folks. If we put our heads together, we can come up with some fabulous ways to help each other and help ourselves. Feel free to call me anytime. I have a little experience in changing some old habits to create a healthy lifestyle. I’ll be glad to come visit and help your county turn over a new leaf ... for the health of it. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015


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Behind the Lines: An update on the Legislature


embers of the 90th Arkansas General Assembly will soon enter their second month of committee meetings, floor sessions and a plethora of conversations and communications about proposed legislation. It’s at this point of the session when the layers of legislative cohesiveness or lack thereof intermingle into more and more lawmaker decisions. Both chambers combined have filed more than 1,200 bills, not counting the 42 joint resolutions concerning possible Constitutional amendments. The Arkansas Legislature can approve up to three of these resolutions to be placed on the ballot. The resolutions will be voted on within State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committees of the Senate and House and then before the entire legislature to make the ballot. There are two joint resolutions (SJR5/HJR1027), one from the Senate sponsored by Sen. Bryan King and one from the house sponsored by Rep. Jack Ladyman, which would increase lengths of terms from two to four years for county officials. These would increase all county officials to four-year terms and have been recently amended to include justices of the peace and county surveyors as well. In addition, these resolutions contain a provision that county elected officials, during their term, cannot be appointed or elected to any civil office under the state. This would prevent any officials from running for a House or Senate seat mid-term. The AAC Board of Directors has voted to support these bills. SJR13 is an amendment proposed by Sens. Bart Hester and Uvalde Lindsey that would increase only county sheriffs from two to four year terms. This bill does not address any other county offices. The switch to four-year terms would begin on elections following January 1, 2017, and does not have a provision to deny appointment or election to offices during the term.

HJR1021 is an amendment proposed by Rep. Greg Leding that would amend the constitution to exempt certain tangible personal property from the ad valorem tax. The property exempted would be certain tangible business personal property that has a useful life of less than one year. We are opposed to any erosion of our tax base unless a source of revenue is identified which would fully replace it, and none is identified in this bill.

Legislative lines

Scott perkins

Communications Director

AAC legislative package: bills to acts Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed seven AAC package bills into law since late January. Another two should be signed by the time this edition is delivered. These new laws began in discussions among various AAC stakeholder associations, and then passed the tests through the AAC legislative committee and the AAC board of directors. As most of you know, then the AAC team and county officials work with the legislature and interested parties as we try to pass our bills into acts. When the session is done, the AAC will assemble all new acts, not just AAC proposals and report to all county officials on the latest laws of Arkansas having an impact on county government. We appreciate all the county officials’ service to the state and look forward to serving you. We hope you enjoy this edition of County Lines magazine and our weekly e-magazine, County Lines Alerts, which is emailed every Friday morning. You can also keep in touch every day on our Facebook page and through our Twitter feed.

Unpaved Roads Program bill passes in state Senate Sen. Missy Irvin (pictured at right) introduced SB613 on the Senate floor March 2, and the measure passed with a unanimous vote. Part of the AAC and county judges’ legislative packages, the bill would create the Arkansas Unpaved Roads Program, which would provide grants to counties for unpaved road projects. A AC and the County Judges Association of Arkansas has worked in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts, the Arkansas Forestry Service, the Arkansas Forestry Association, Farm Bureau of Arkansas, the Natural Resources Commission, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Arkansas to get the bill to the Legislature. It now goes to the House Committee on Public Transportation for consideration. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015



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Mobile Communication

Is it only rude if someone else is doing it?


riends and I were chatting over dinner in a restaurant. A man at the next table told his cell-phone caller to hold on. Then he stepped outside to talk. When he returned, I said, “That was very thoughtful.” “I had no choice,” he nodded and said to me. “You were making too much noise.” Survey findings show that a vast majority — in excess of 90 percent — say they have seen others misuse mobile technology, while less than 20 percent admit to their own poor mobile behavior. I must admit that it is a pet peeve of mine for someone’s cell phone to ring in the middle of a meeting or in certain public places. Needless to say, it was like a slap in the face when my Android mobile phone rang audibly in a meeting of county officials at the Association of Arkansas Counties on Thursday morning, Nov. 20, 2014. Yes, I remember exactly when it was because I had broken one of my cardinal rules. I had not silenced my phone before going into the meeting. I quickly exited the room as quietly as possible and took the phone call in the hallway. It was much more difficult to stay focused on the rest of the meeting since the phone call was from a fishing buddy who wanted to go crappie fishing that afternoon. I was three hours away and there was no way I could make that crappie fishing outing. Oh well, I had work to do anyway … and I digress. We live in a world of trendy communication tools — a time quite different than the days of my youth [no that was not a millennium ago]. When I gave the salutatory address at my high school graduation almost 43 years ago I talked about “Creative Power.” In part of that speech I spoke about the creative power that had been expended in the previous 75 years to create, invent or extensively develop various things in the field of transportation; in communications; in agriculture; in medicine; and in inventing and developing electrical appliances and machinery for the home and office. I went on to say in that speech, “Just as surely as creative power has been instrumental in revolutionizing and completely transforming all the major phases of living here in America, so will that same creative power be used to revolutionize present standards

Seems To Me...

in an even greater way in the 75 years ahead.” Little did I know at the time just how accurate that statement was! Technology has “mushroomed” over the past 40 years. Today’s technology, if used properly, is key to success. Most of us today have smartphones — a mobile Eddie A. Jones phone with an operating system. County Consultant Smartphones include the features of a phone along with things like a personal digital assistant (PDA), a digital camera, a media player, and a GPS navigation unit. And the list continues with the features of a touchscreen computer, including web browsing, Wi-Fi, third-party apps and mobile payment. You may use an Android, or maybe an iPhone or a BlackBerry. Technology tools include e-mail, instant messaging and e-faxing. And for those who want face-to-face communication there is telepresence and ooVoo. I recently became aware of Dropbox file sharing. Dropbox is a file hosting service — that “cloud storage” you hear about. I keep trying to figure out where that cloud is and what it looks like. How much of a good thing is too much? Or do we just need to learn a little more about technology etiquette? Marshal McLuhan, in his 1964 book Understanding Media: the Extensions of Man, coined the phrase “The medium is the message.” This was a time when a bit belonged in a horse’s mouth, a bite was what a dog did and a BlackBerry was a fruit used to make jelly, jam and cobblers. Things have changed. Today’s communication devices make the way we transmit and receive information almost more relevant than what we have to say. The obsession with how we communicate has developed into fashion statements. Some people change communication devices as often as they change socks. Just look at our 21st century telephone (to use an archaic term). Cell phones started off rather large. Then they became tiny. Now they’re getting larger again. They are sometimes modified to fit body shape. Deputy Barney

75 Counties - One Voice 20



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Fife would have checked himself into rehab if he had seen somePopular entertainment took communications to icon status. Dick Tracey hunted down bad guys using his 2-Way Wrist Raone from Mayberry walking through Crowley’s Market jabberdio while Captain Kirk used his communicator to have Scotty ing away into a Bluetooth headset. We are so wound up communicating instantaneously that we “beam” him up to the Starship Enterprise. And then there was Agent 86 Maxwell Smart who consistently goofed things up in often don’t pay attention to what we say. Or worse, we comhis fight against the evil forces of KAOS, but by using his “shoemunicate for communication’s sake. Just think of the meetings phone” his partner, Agent 99, always managed to bail him out you’ve attended where people who have waited in silence for of his disasters. Life does imitate art. hours suddenly have to make and receive telephone calls “that American composer and songwriter Cole Porter once musijust can’t wait.” cally mused, “a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something Remember those times you’ve sat down to eat at a restaurant shocking. But now, anything goes.” If Mr. Porter was to point and suddenly half of the diners have to take or make a call to his composing at today’s mobile digital culture, the “glimpse of Uncle Joe and Aunt Josie and vividly recount the nuances of restocking” might have been “text while walking.” cent hemorrhoid surgery? Or the golfer in the foursome whose The whole concept of “mobile etiquette” may be looked upon smartphone rings every other hole or dings with an email or with a bit of snarkiness by today’s mobile generation. No one in text? Alexander Graham Bell should be turning in his grave! a group of Gen X’ers gathered around a table all on their smartLike the man who was starving and forgot his manners, inphones would consider any of the others rude. As Mr. Porter stant communication is making the human race a bit less civil. implies, as times change so do societal behavioral norms. How many public gatherings have you attended or meetings But I believe it should have you sat down to that have always be the norm to be been interrupted by those irripolite — never rude. Surveys tating ring tones? Or better still, concerning mobile etiquette you’re at the dinner theatre with seem to uncover the unwillyour spouse and the woman beingness of people to admit side you has a purse from which their own misuse of mobile ell phones are ubiquitous; they reverberates Andy Williams technology while pointing crooning “Moon River.” are everywhere. And although the “accusation finger” at Our global access isolates most others. But that does most users think they have us even in crowded situations. not make the statement, “It’s Conferences designed to bring good mobile manners, many people reonly rude if someone else is together people with common it,” true. The truth is, port being irritated or annoyed by the use doing business — like our various if it’s rude for someone else, county official association it’s rude for you, too. of the phones in public places. meetings or legislative sessions Cell phones are ubiquitous; — often dissolve into dozens of they are everywhere. And allikeminded individuals squawkthough most users think they ing into smartphones, totally have good mobile manners, oblivious to the colleague three many people report being irfeet away. ritated or annoyed by the use Speakers often encounter audiences divided into cell phone of the phones in public places. users and text message senders. If Abraham Lincoln had to Clearly there’s a lack of understanding of what is and is not deliver his Gettysburg Address today, there probably would not acceptable in terms of cell phone etiquette. I’m not going to be enough people paying attention to the speech to warrant start a long list of do’s and don’ts because I believe good cell copying down his words. phone etiquette is similar to common courtesy. Conversations Communication in real time has been a human goal since our and text exchanges have a tendency to distract people from ancestors first drew on cave walls. History itself is full of blunwhat’s happening in front of them. Cell phone users should be ders that occurred because of untimely information. Imagine if thoughtful, courteous and respectful of the people around them. Andrew Jackson and his British counterparts British Army Gen. I don’t propose that we become communication Luddites. InEdward Pakenham and Royal Navy Adm. Alexander Cochrane stant information access saves lives, builds economies, helps us at New Orleans had cell phones or e-mail. They would have perform our jobs more efficiently and contributes to our general found out the War of 1812 was over and the peace treaty had well being. However, there are times when we should turn off been signed two weeks earlier. Jackson would have been dethe technology and re-engage in face-to-face conversation. There prived of a great military victory; Jimmy Driftwood, an Arkanare other times when we need to cease the information flow and sas high school principal and history teacher, would not have just be silent for a while. One of my favorite Old Testament written that neat song “Battle of New Orleans” that Johnny scriptures is one of the Psalmist David, “Be still and know …” Horton recorded and won the 1959 Grammy Award for Best Country and Western performance; and a couple of thousand See “CHANGING” on Page 22 > > > British soldiers would not have had such a bad day.





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— something we ought to do more often. I have that reminder, the device to the annoyance of others. While instant information in art form, hanging on my office wall. is important, utilization of the device supplying the information Certain locales should be off-limits to instant access. These should be done in a manner that shows respect to those around include entertainment venues, places of worship, restaurants you. This little step of courtesy is a big step in improving commuand any gathering that has a nication for everyone. guest speaker. The beautiful Because of our lack of mobile thing about cell phones and courtesy, some are going to the similar implements of comextreme to stop the phones ringhe beautiful thing about cell munication is that they have ing. An Italian priest, annoyed this wonderful service known as by ringing cell phones, installed phones and similar implevoicemail. And generally, unless a jamming device in his church. it’s a case of medical emergency He said that asking nicely didn’t or national security, those oh-so ments of communication is that they work. Father Michele Madonna important calls and text mesforked out the cash to install the sages can be placed on hold for have this wonderful service known gadget inside the Santa Maria a few more minutes. Chapel in downtown Naples. Marshall McLuhan’s obserHe said he was fed up with the as voicemail. vation about the medium — constant ringing and beeping of whether it be an iPhone, Android, phones during his sermons. BlackBerry or other trendy, albeit Voltaire said, “To succeed in useful, device — becoming more the world, you must also be wellimportant than the message, may be true. However, that does not mannered.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is not so short but mean that the device should be more important than the message that there is always time for courtesy.” Good things to remembeing delivered. Nor does it mean that an individual should use ber when using our modern technology.





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“…if we have a problem or question, FI is there to help. Amanda Epperson is the Arkansas Operations Manager for FI. Mandy is retired from the State of Arkansas where she worked in the Legislative Audit Division for many years…if you are considering changing financial software companies I certainly recommend Financial Intelligence.”

Honorable Tim Stockdale, Garland County Treasurer “…we have saved thousands of dollars in reduced labor costs…the electronic storage capabilities allow easy and efficient retrieval of records and documents…very friendly staff” Honorable Alma Davis, Calhoun County Circuit & County Clerk “We have been with them for three years now and really do love their system. I feel very secure in knowing that if I have a problem they are right there to help me.” Honorable Jennifer Beene, Calhoun County Treasurer

“It was such a blessing to have a software company that was willing to help me in any situation… there was never a question that I couldn’t ask FI personnel without getting a full response…many times FI personnel went out of their way to help me resolve many issues…this software enables our office and the County Clerk’s office to work efficiently as a team…the staff has become like family…the complete solution to our software needs…”

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AAC scholarships provided more than $175,000 AAC’s scholarship tradition carries on impact for recipients


he Association of Arkansas Counties established a Scholarship Trust in 1985 for the purpose of providing college financial assistance to the children, stepchildren and grandchildren of Arkansas county and district officials and employees. “Providing scholarships to the relatives of county and district officials and employees has been a positive endeavor for the AAC for 30 years,” said Chris Villines, AAC executive director. “We are proud to carry on the tradition of the Scholarship Trust and look forward to the qualified applicants every year. Education is the key to a fundamentally sound future and we are pleased to impact the futures of our scholarship recipients.” Some of the requirements for applicants include a minimum 3.0 grade point average, a minimum ACT score of 18, high school graduate of Arkansas and all recipients must be a child,

grandchild, adopted child, or stepchild of a current or retired county employee of Arkansas. The deadline for 2015 scholarship applications is May, 1, 2015. Along with the Association of Arkansas Counties, the following affiliate associations contribute to the scholarship trust annually: •The County Judges Association of Arkansas •The Arkansas County Clerks Association •The Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association •The County Collectors Association of Arkansas •The Arkansas County Treasurers Association •The Assessors Association of Arkansas •The Arkansas Association of Quorum Courts •The Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association The success of this Scholarship Trust can be attributed to the financial support from the county and district officials of Arkansas along with the many memorials and honorariums from various groups and organizations, as well as relatives and friends.

2015 AAC scholarship application process Qualifications for students seeking AAC Scholarships: 1. Applicants must plan on attending or are already attending college, graduate school or other qualifying education institution. 2. Applicant must have a current grade point average of 3.0 or above and a minimum ACT score of 18. 3. Applicant must be or will be a high school graduate of the State of Arkansas. 4. Applicant must be a child, grandchild, adopted child, or stepchild of a current or retired county employee of Arkansas.

Instructions for completing application:

Without the following information, application will not be processed: • Three (3) character reference letters, one from a county employee other than a relative. • An official transcript of courses taken along with ACT/SAT scores. • A biographical statement, including family and educational background, financial need, work history and other pertinent information about yourself. 4. Send completed application with attachments to: Scholarship Trust Association of Arkansas Counties 1415 W. Third Street Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

5. Completed applications must be received between January 1, 2015 and May 1, 2015 in order to be considered for this year’s scholarship.

1. Application is to be completed by applicant. 2. All parts of the application must be completed in full. Please type or print in black or blue ink. 3. The following is required to be attached to completed application: COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015

On the Web: Go to, click on “Risk Management Services” and then click on “AAC Scholarships” for a complete application. 25

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


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

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

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

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

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

Chris Villines Executive Director


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Smart911 continues to provide valuable details to first responders


By JESSICA ROSE Community Marketing Manager, Smart911

• An elderly man in Jonesboro slipped and fell at home. He had multiple ailments and was unable to effectively communicate, but his Safety Profile provided his home address as well as his medical details. First responders were able to begin administering treatment quickly upon arriving at the scene.

n 2012 Arkansas became the first state in the country to implement Smart911 statewide to improve emergency response for all Arkansans. Smart911 is a national safety Smart911 recently was featured on Good Morning America service that allows residents to create for their household after helping to save a man’s life in Michigan. When Dan Hoffa Safety Profile that contains any information they want 9-1-1 man awoke from a nap to find his home on fire, he dialed 9-1-1 and first responders to know in the event of an emergency. but was unable to speak through the smoke. His Safety Profile When the resident dials 9-1-1, his profile is immediately availprovided dispatchers with his home address. This cut 11 minutes able to the dispatcher providing valuable details to facilitate a off the response time and saved Hoffman’s life. Today Hoffman fast and effective response. is thankful he is Since statewide alive to hug his two implementation, daughters and is a Smart911 Safety encouraging everyProfile has apince statewide implementation, a Smart911 Safety one to take a few peared with more minutes to prepare than 38,000 9-1-1 for an emergency. Profile has appeared with more than 38,000 9-1calls in Arkansas, Organizations providing additionacross Arkansas, 1 calls in Arkansas, providing additional information to al information to including 9-1-1 enhance the emeremergency centers, enhance the emergency response process. gency response police, fire and emergency medical process. Incidents services continue within the state of to work to spread Arkansas where a the word about Smart911 and encourage residents to sign up Smart911 profile has been utilized include: for the service. Their efforts reach more and more residents each day, but additional support is helpful. Any community groups, • In Pulaski County, a frantic mother dialed 9-1-1 when her government agencies, public officials or residents who are able daughter went missing after school one day. Because she had included her daughter’s photo, age and description in her Safety to help spread the word can e-mail for more information. Profile, the 9-1-1 dispatcher was able to immediately ask what To sign up for the free service, visit In the girl was wearing that day. The girl was found safe. addition to providing valuable details for 9-1-1 responders, residents also can also opt to answer questions to assist emergency • A boy in Fort Smith fell in his yard, cutting his face on the management to prepare for and respond to disasters. These barbeque grill. In a panic, his mother dialed 9-1-1 but forgot to details can include anyone in their home who needs assistance mention his allergy to latex. However, this detail was listed in evacuating, whether they have a 72-hour supply of food and the family’s Safety Profile and was passed on to first responders water or information about resources they have to assist with a as they were en route to the scene. response to a disaster.



Photos by Holly Hope/Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

A Stately Lady

Grant program has preserved historic features of White County Courthouse


By Mark Christ Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

he stately White County Courthouse in Searcy stands today as one of the finest examples of a Classical Revival-style public building in Arkansas. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and White County have worked together for nearly 25 years to preserve the building and make it accessible to all of the county’s constituents. Since 1991, White County has received $293,204 through the AHPP’s County Courthouse Restoration Grant program for restoration work on the landmark building, in addition to another grant to prepare the old Searcy Post Office to serve as a courthouse annex (see sidebar). When Arkansas’s territorial General Assembly created White County on Oct. 23, 1835, it decreed that “until the seat of justice shall be located, the temporary seat shall be and the courts shall be held at the home of David Crise near the White 28

Sulphur Springs,” now the site of Oak Grove Cemetery. A fiveman commission was established to select a permanent county seat, and in 1839 Crawford Walker donated 10 acres of land to them, which was sold to finance a one-story log building just southwest of the current courthouse. White County’s first permanent courthouse, with its furnishings, cost only $138.50. Interestingly, the original donation became embroiled in a kerfuffle involving land grants to veterans of the War of 1812 that eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court, making White County’s courthouse the only one in Arkansas whose location was adjudicated by the nation’s highest court. By 1850, the county needed a larger courthouse and a two-story, wood-frame building featuring a pair of single-story adjacent wings was built for $1,000 on the site of the present courthouse. As White County continued to grow during that decade, government operations soon outgrew the 1850 structure and plans were made for a newer, larger courthouse to be constructed in 1861. The Civil War, however, curtailed those plans and it was not until COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015

Opposite Page: The White County Courthouse in Searcy is one of the finest examples of a Classical Revival-style public building in Arkansas. The two-story mansion, designed by H.L. Baldwin of Memphis, is faced with cut stone on the first floor and brick on the second floor. Top Left: The original building was constructed in 1871, then expanded in 1912. The exterior, which was repainted in 2009 with money from the Arkansas Historic Preservation’s County Courthouse Restoration Grant Program, features include soaring columns. Top Right: Each of the building’s columns is topped with a Corinthian capital. Bottom Right: The courthouse’s interior is equally as handsome, with marble wainscoting and ornate hexagonal-tile floors. 1869 that new construction was to commence. In the intervening years, unfortunately, the 1850 building had been sold, moved and reopened as the Burrow Hotel. White County’s leaders would have to lease space from the local Masonic Lodge at $450 per year until a new building could be erected. H.L. Baldwin of Memphis was retained as architect to design what became a two-story masonry building faced with cut stone on the first floor and brick on the second, topped by a clock tower with a bell dated 1855. While the county accepted a low bid of $25,000 from Searcy builder Wyatt Sanford to construct the building, it proved far more expensive by the time it opened in 1871. Still, the building sufficed for 40 years, with county offices on the first floor and courtrooms on the second. By 1912, White County had again outgrown its courthouse and employed architect Frank W. Gibb – whose designs are reflected in a number of historic Arkansas courthouses – to remodel the building and add space. Gibb stayed true to the design of the 1871 building, continuing the motif of cut stone on the first floor and brick on the second story. He added wings to the north and south elevations of the building, flattened the original’s hipped roof, and removed gables from the building. The White County Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 3, 1977. Today, the White County Courthouse remains a handsome building, with its soaring columns and Corinthian capitals, COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015

marble wainscoting and ornate hexagonal-tile floors. Its grounds are enhanced by memorials to White County soldiers who have served from the Civil War to present day and an Arkansas Champion deodar cedar tree planted by County Judge Herbert Moody in 1939. In addition to county business, the courthouse grounds are home to a farmer’s market during the growing season. The White County Courthouse remains an integral part of its community, and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program will continue to work with county officials to see that it stays that way. Applications are now being accepted for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program’s County Courthouse Restoration Grant program. The grants are financed through Real Estate Transfer Tax funds distributed by the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council for rehabilitation of historic county courthouses across Arkansas. Applications for County Courthouse Restoration Grants will be due in the AHPP office at 323 Center Street, Suite 1500, in Little Rock no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 6. Applications can be found at For more information, call AHPP Grants Coordinator Joia Burton at (501) 324-9883 [TDD 501324-9811] or send her an e-mail at See


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White County Courthouse has benefited from 10 AHPP restoration grants


mong the many programs and services of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is the County Courthouse Restoration Grant Program. Created in 1989, this grant program has helped to extend the lives of courthouses that hold vital links to community pride and local history. These grants are funded through the Real Estate Transfer Tax, administered by the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council. Since the beginning of the program, the AHPP has awarded more than $18.6 million to 69 historic courthouses and courthouse annexes around the state for use in rehabilitating, preserving and protecting these important historic resources. Since 1991, White County has received 10 grants totaling $293,204 for the White County Courthouse. FY1991 Waterproofing Basement $10,000 FY1992 Waterproofing Basement and Parapet Walls $21,075 FY1993 Repaint Exterior $7,500 FY1995 Restore Interior Walls and Ceilings $3,500 FY1997 Install Chairlift $20,250 FY1999 North/South Porch Roofs; Paint Clock Tower $35,679 FY2009 Exterior Painting $42,000 FY2012 Roof Restoration $80,000 FY2013 Finish Roof Restoration $48,200 FY2015 Repair Chairlift $25,000

The AHPP also awarded White County a $33,100 County Courthouse Restoration Grant in FY2002 to make the restrooms at the 1914 Searcy Post Office at Gum and Arch streets accessible to handicapped citizens and to install storm windows at the building, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 20, 1992. The building now serves as a courthouse annex: the Wilbur D. Mills Courts Building, housing the county’s circuit, chancery and probate court offices.

The White County Courthouse and its clock tower were designed by H.L. Baldwin of Memphis. The bell in the tower, which was refurbished in 1999 using a $35,679 Restoration Grant, dates back to 1855.

Desha County Collector named Woman of the Year in 2014

Photo courtesy of McGehee Times 30

Desha County Collector Vaughta Glover was named Woman of the Year by the McGehee Chamber of Commerce in a ceremony that took place in November 2014. In announcing the award, LeeAnn Reed, who works in the collector’s office, recounted Glover’s years of community service. Glover’s first term as county collector began in January 1997. She has organized reunions for many groups, including the 60th Anniversary Celebration at her church, Antioch Baptist Church. Glover also organizes the county courthouse team for the annual Desha County Relay for Life, and she is an active member of the McGehee Women’s Chamber of Commerce. In 2002, Glover was first elected by her peers to serve on the board of directors of the Arkansas County Tax Collectors Association. She has served as the association’s second vice-president. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015

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Let’s talk about putting our new offerings to work for your plan. Information provided by Retirement Specialists is for educational purposes only and not intended as investment advice. Retirement Specialists are registered representatives of Nationwide Investment Services Corporation, member FINRA. Nationwide Retirement Solutions, Inc. and its affiliates (Nationwide) offer a variety of investment options to public sector retirement plans through variable annuity contracts, trust or custodial accounts. Nationwide may receive payments from mutual funds or their affiliates in connection with those investment options. For more detail about the payments Nationwide receives, please visit Nationwide Retirement Solutions, Inc. and Nationwide Life Insurance Company (collectively “Nationwide”) have endorsement relationships with the National Association of Counties and the International Association of Fire Fighters – Financial Corporation. More information about the endorsement relationships may be found online at Investment advisory services are provided by Morningstar Associates, LLC, a registered investment advisor and wholly owned subsidiary of Morningstar, Inc. Neither Morningstar Associates, LLC nor Morningstar, Inc. is affiliated with Nationwide or its affiliates. The Morningstar name and logo are registered marks of Morningstar, Inc. Nationwide and the Nationwide framemark are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2013 Nationwide Retirement Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved. NRM-9664M1.NX (05/13)


C ounty O fficial

P rofile

“As a county clerk, I don’t feel like partisan politics plays into

my job much. We have a law that tells us how to do every aspect of our job. It doesn’t really matter how you feel party-wise. We have a job to do.”

— Terri Harrison Polk County Clerk

Getting the job done

Polk County Clerk Terri Harrison lets the law, not politics, be her guide


By Jennifer Barnett Reed For County Lines

rkansas’ county clerks often find themselves in the middle of contentious issues, and 2014 was no exception. As state legislators and judges debated voter ID laws and same-sex marriage, Polk County Clerk Terri Harrison and her compatriots worked the front lines. They’re the ones who told voters on election days whether they had to show a driver’s license to cast a ballot. And it’s to their offices that same-sex couples came to apply for marriage licenses. None of that contention bothers Harrison. Now in her eighth term as clerk of Polk County and her second year of a two-year term as president of the Arkansas Association of County Clerks, Harrison said she instead simply focuses on what the law requires – even if that changes from one week to the next. “As county clerk, I don’t feel like the partisan politics plays into my job much,” she said. “We have a law that tells us how to do every aspect of our job. It doesn’t really matter how you feel party-wise. We have a job to do.” It’s a job Harrison has been doing since 2001, shortly after she was elected to replace the retiring county clerk who had been Harrison’s boss for seven years. 32

“It’s kind of funny — when I first went to work [in the county clerk’s office], my father-in-law said, ‘You can work for her for a few years, and when she’s ready to retire, maybe you’ll want to run,’” Harrison said. “I didn’t think that was something I would ever want to do. Then I discovered how much I really, really enjoyed it.” The idea of campaigning made Harrison a little nervous, she said — she had opposition in both the primary and general elections — but that didn’t last long. “The people in Polk County were so good to me,” she said of that campaign. “I really enjoyed getting out and visiting with people.” Harrison, 44, is a native of Polk County. She graduated from Acorn High School in 1988 and attended community college in Mena for a couple of years before going to work in the county clerk’s office in 1994. Her husband, John, works for Brodix, a local manufacturer of cylinder heads. They have a daughter in high school and a son in college. In the 21 years she’s worked in the county clerk’s office, she’s seen an enormous amount of change. “When I first started working for the county, and even when I first became clerk, all the voting was done by paper ballot,” she said. “We had a central tabulator at the courthouse. People in charge of the polling places would bring ballots in COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015

C ounty O fficial

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Opposite page: Polk County Clerk Terri Harrison attended a Senate committee hearing at the state Capitol in February. This page, left: Harrison is president of the Arkansas Association of County Clerks and leads the group’s continuing education meetings. This page, right: AAC Communications Director Scott Perkins, AAC Legislative Chair Debbie Wise and Legislative Committee member Harrison hear updates on county-friendly legislation at a February meeting.

to the courthouse.” That began to change in the wake of the Help America Vote Act, which was passed in 2002. The law required states to update their election processes, and the Polk County Election Commission decided to go with electronic voting machines, beginning in the 2006 elections. “That was a little bit of a challenge,” Harrison said. “There was a lot of voter education that had to go into it as well.” Harrison and her small staff went to public meetings, the county fair, meetings of civic groups and any other place that invited them to demonstrate the new machines before they were actually used in any election. “That put the public’s mind at ease,” she said. “Once the voters started voting on the machines, they loved it.” So did poll workers. “It does save a lot of time on election night,” she said. “Before my time, poll workers would count ballots at the polling place before they brought them in. Now all they have to do is shut the machines down and turn them in to us.” In 2014, Polk County started using electronic poll books as well, Harrison said. That sped up the process of getting the names of people who voted into the system. And the Secretary of State’s office has begun researching new voting equipment to replace the aging machines currently in use. “Right now there’s a lengthy opening process that poll workers have to go through, and we’re hoping the new machines will be a little more user-friendly for the poll workers,” she said. Voter ID laws, though, have been the biggest election-related challenge for Harrison’s office recently. Poll workers there had always asked voters to show ID, and most voters were used to it, she said, so when legislators passed a law requiring voters to show ID, there wasn’t much of a transition. “Now that the ID law is reversed, we’re not currently doing it,” she said of asking voters for ID. “But I still feel like they will use their driver’s license for ID because they’ve always done it.” There was some confusion, Harrison said, but poll workers didn’t report a lot of it. A handful of voters mentioned that they’d heard they didn’t have to show ID anymore, but most COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015

didn’t seem to be aware of the change. “Most people pretty much just go with the flow, and they’re used to showing their ID, so they have it out and ready,” Harrison said. “Most of the time we didn’t even have to ask for it.” Even with the changes, Harrison said, elections are her favorite part of the county clerk’s duties. “It’s interesting the way it works,” she said. “I feel strongly about making sure it’s done correctly and fairly. At the end of the night on election night, I’m always anxious to see how it turns out, and find out how things went throughout the day for the poll workers.” The results of this past election were historic for Arkansas, of course, with Republicans sweeping every state office and a majority of seats in the state House and Senate. As president of the county clerks association, Harrison has been following any bills that would affect elections, marriage licenses or other aspects of the county clerk’s duties, and would be involved in working with legislators on those bills on behalf of the association. She’s hoping her status as a registered Democrat won’t be a drawback. “I’ve always tried very hard not to let that be an issue,” said Harrison, who has been unopposed in every campaign after her first one. “I’m willing to work with people. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican — I just want to do what’s in the best interest of our people and our county. I’m willing to sit down and work with you — it doesn’t matter what party you’re with.” Still, she knows debates about election laws tend to bring out the partisan politics. “We just have to work together and try to come to a solution that’s in the best interest of the people of the state, and figure out a way to make it work,” she said. Little River County Clerk Deanna Sivley, who is secretary of the Arkansas Association of County Clerks, said she has no doubt Harrison will be a strong advocate for the association’s issues with the legislature. “She’s pretty quiet most of the time, but she’ll surprise you,” Sivley said. “She’ll stand up when it’s called for.” See


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As the association president, Harrison shares what she thinks about issues but always makes a point of getting input from others, Sivley said. “I think she’s done a great job for us,” she said. Harrison said she’s not aware of any bills at this point that the association would be strongly for or strongly opposed to. That doesn’t necessarily mean the state’s county clerks won’t be dealing with any hot-button issues this year. The state Supreme Court will be hearing arguments on an appeal of a lower court’s ruling that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. During the brief time that the lower court’s ruling stood last year before the Supreme Court stayed it pending the appeal, county clerks around the state differed in how they said they would handle same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses. “We’re just waiting to hear what happens with that,” Harrison said. “We’ve not had a lot of phone calls in Polk County with people inquiring about it. If and when that decision is made, it’s something that will probably take some education and people having to get used to it.” Either way, Harrison said, she sees her role as county clerk to carry out the law, period. “I feel like when I took my oath as county clerk I agreed to uphold the law and do what the law instructs me to do,” she said. “I don’t feel like personal beliefs can influence that. In our office we discussed that regardless of whether we’re for or


against it, if the law changes and that’s what we’re required to do, that’s what we’re going to do in our office.” In the meantime, there are plenty of other changes to keep Harrison on her toes. When Harrison started in the Polk County Clerk’s office as an assistant in 1994, all records were kept on paper only. In the years since, the office has become gradually more reliant on computer records. Last August, they took one more step in that direction, migrating onto the state’s Context system for probate files. “None of those had ever been done electronically — they’d all be done by hand,” she said. “We’re still learning but it seems to be working really well, and I think it will be a lot more efficient.” Still, some relics of the past remain. “We had a young man in the office the other day with his fiancée getting a marriage license,” she said. “We have a desk with a typewriter on it, and he stood there for a minute looking at it, and I thought, ‘I know what’s going through his mind.’ Finally he said, ‘What is that?’ I said, ‘It’s a typewriter.’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve heard of those.’” There’s no telling what the future holds when a mere 20 years can make a typewriter so obsolete that someone old enough to get married doesn’t know what one is. But whatever comes, Harrison said, she wants to stick around for it. “I’ve had people tell me they think working here would be stressful, but I just feel so blessed to be here, and that I’ve gotten to keep this job all these years,” she said. “I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.”

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Board Profile Debbie Wise

Office: Randolph County Circuit Clerk

My favorite meal: Anything my mom cooks — fried chicken, gardenfresh vegetables, strawberry shortcake. I also like Mexican food. When I’m not working I’m: Spending time with my family, mostly my grandkids. I love going to flea markets, reading, gardening and fishing.

Other titles: Vice-President,AAC Board of Directors; Chairman, AAC Legislative Committee County I was born in: Fort Ord, California. My father and mother were in the Army and stationed there.

The accomplishments of which I am most proud: My family and being able to truly help someone in need when they come to my office to see me.

What I like most about my county: Randolph County is beautiful. We have rivers, parks, hunting, fishing, festivals, wonderful people. It is a great place to live.

The hardest thing I have ever done is: Saying goodbye to my family and friends who have died from illness.

Debbie Wise, R The best thing about living in Arkansas: andolph County It is home. It is beautiful, and all of my county government family lives here.There is a friend in every county.

If I wasn’t a county circuit clerk, I’d be: I would be running a little cafe by a beach.

You might be surprised to learn that: I am terrified of spiders. I got started in county government because: I was looking for a better job so I could spend more time with my 5-year-old daughter.The Lord blessed me with a job I have loved for many years.

My pet peeve is: Judgmental people.

Federal monies, legislation are everyday worries for official in Montgomery County





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AAC honors two retiring board members Top: AAC Executive Director Chris Villines speaks at a December 2014 ceremony honoring retiring board members Mike Jacobs, former Johnson County Judge, and Roger Haney, former Washington County Treasurer. AAC staff and board members gathered at the front of the room, and Villines presented each of the retiring board members with a special gift. Middle left: Jacobs, who now serves on the Johnson County Quorum Court, and his wife Sandra (right) pose with Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson. Middle: Jacobs and Haney each received an engraved crystal plaque commemorating their service to county government. Jacobs, who was Johnson County Judge for 24 years, was AAC’s longest serving board president. He was appointed to the board in 1997 and elected president two years later. Haney served as Washington County Treasurer for 36 years before retiring. Middle right: Retired Jackson County Justice of the Peace Elwanda Templeton speaks with AAC board members Joe Gillenwater, Miller County Justice of the Peace, and David Thompson, Boone County Justice of the Peace. Bottom: Haney says a few words to the county, district and state officials who attended the ceremony. Afterward, Jacobs spoke and led the group in a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine,” the same tune he regularly sang at the close of AAC’s annual summer conference.




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Judges’ association hosts orientation for newly elects Top Left: Pictured are Greene County Judge Rusty McMillon, Saline County Judge Jeff Arey and Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison. Middle Left: Ouachita County Judge Robbie McAdoo takes notes while Franklin County Judge Rickey Bowman listens to a speaker. Middle Right: Boone County Judge Robert Hathaway, Arkansas County Judge Thomas Best and Cross County Judge Donnie Sanders chat during a break in the all-day session. Bottom Left: Pictured are Lafayette County Judge Mike Rowe, Fulton County Judge Darrell Zimmer, retired Arkansas County Judge Sonny Cox and Hempstead County Judge Haskell Morse. Bottom Right: Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker introduces himself to the other new judges attending the orientation.




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AAC hosts training for new county officials Newly elected county officials from across the state of Arkansas attended the Association of Arkansas Counties’ training in December in Little Rock. Veteran county officials, AAC staff and other state agency representatives collectively provided an overview of the laws and regulations pertaining to county officials. Breakout sessions were held by county elected offices, including judges, county and circuit clerks, treasurers, assessors, collectors and coroners.

Top Left: AAC Executive Director Chris Villines delivers the welcoming address. Top Right: A standing-room-only crowd was present for the opening session. Middle Left: AAC Legal Counsel Jonathan Greer and AAC Chief Counsel Mark Whitmore were among the staff who led sessions for the new county officials. Middle Right: Secretary of State Mark Martin addresses the new county clerks as Drew County Clerk Lyna Gulledge and Polk County Clerk Terri Harrison look on. Bottom Left: Van Buren County Justice of the Peace Mary Phillips listens to a speaker during the breakout session for new quorum court members. 38



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Top Left: Sevier County Circuit Clerk Kathy Smith listens intently during a breakout. Top Right: Marion County Treasurer Ron McPherson introduces himself to colleagues. Middle Left: Pictured here is Grant County Justice of the Peace Alex White. Middle Right: Sebastian County Judge David Hudson addresses the new judges. Bottom Left: Pictured are Collectors Cathy Hardin of Miller County, Amy Jenkins of Boone County and Teresa Smith of Baxter County. Bottom Right: Johnson County Coroner Pam Cogan takes notes during a breakout.




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Circuit Clerks hold separate seminar at AAC headquarters Top Left: Faulkner County Circuit Clerk Rhonda Wharton, Crawford County Circuit Clerk Sharon BlountBaker, Randolph County Circuit Clerk Debbie Wise and Monroe County Circuit Clerk Alice Smith help lead the training for newly elected circuit clerks in December. Bottom Left: Pictured are Benton County Circuit Clerk Brenda DeShields and newly elected Cleveland County/ Circuit Clerk Jimmy Cummings. Middle Right: Benton County Circuit Clerk Brenda DeShields chats with new assessors. Bottom Right: Pictured are Pike County Circuit Clerk Sabrina Williams, Howard County Circuit Clerk Angie Lewis and Pope County Circuit Clerk Diane Willcutt.




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ALETA holds Executive Sheriffs Course at Game and Fish facility in Mayflower The Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy (ALETA) hosted a week-long training session for newly elected sheriffs early in December, with topics ranging from managing writs of execution and jail standards to employment law and county budgets. The training took place at the Dr. James E. Moore Jr. Camp Robinson Firing Range, an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission facility in Mayflower. Top Left: Woodruff County’s new sheriff/collector, Phil Reynolds, fills out paperwork during a break between sessions. Top Right: Logan County Sheriff Boyd Hicks and Scott County Sheriff/Collector Terry Staggs talk to Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Ronnie Baldwin. Left: Saline County Sheriff Rodney Wright listens to a presentation on avoiding risk in the public service sector.

75 Counties - One Voice COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015



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Collectors elect officers, honor their retiring peers

Left: Crittenden County Collector Ellen Foote and Crittenden County Deputy Collector Tawanna Brown arrive for dinner at The Porterhouse restaurant in Hot Springs. Middle Left: Jefferson County Deputy Collector Gwendolyn Bell models her new bracelet. Middle Right: Now-retired Auditor of State Charlie Daniels swears Columbia County Collector Cindy Walker in as president of the Arkansas County Tax Collectors Association. Bottom Left: Retired Baxter County Collector Willa Mae Tilley accepts a certificate for her service. Bottom Right: Retired Boone County Collector Lavonne McCullough accepts a certificate for her service.




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ACD holds training for incoming assessors

Top Left: Former Assessment Coordination Department Director Debbie Asbury speaks to the newly elected assessors who attended the class, held Dec. 3, 2014, at the ACD headquarters in Little Rock. Middle Left: Shannon Sharp of Garland County, Diann Ballard of Jackson County and Shannon Cotton of Logan County listen to a speaker. Middle Right: Hannah Holloway-Towell of Craighead County and Amanda Hawkins of Perry County look through their materials. Left: Clark County Assessor Kasey Summerville shares tips for communicating with the public.




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Above: AAC staff and county elected officials mingled with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and state legislators who are serving in the 90th General Assembly. Bottom Right: Former First Lady Ginger Beebe waits at the mansion’s front door so she can greet guests as they arrive.

AAC hosts 90th General Assembly at Governor’s Mansion reception


ith the biennial regular session on the horizon, the Association of Arkansas Counties planned a legislative reception at the Governor’s Mansion on November 20. Former First Lady Ginger Beebe greeted guests at the front door, and former Gov. Mike Beebe, who had a prior commitment, made an appearance later in the evening to welcome those who attended. Such receptions give officials an opportunity to renew acquaintances and meet some newly elected legislators prior to the start of the session. 44



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Top Left: AAC Chief Legal Counsel Mark Whitmore, AAC Legal Counsel Lindsey Bailey, AAC Legislative Committee Chair Debbie Wise and AAC Executive Director Chris Villines greet one another. Top Right: Former Gov. Beebe welcomes guests. Center Left: Faulkner County Circuit Clerk Rhonda Wharton and her husband, William, speak with Rep. Douglas House, whose district includes portions of Pulaski and Faulkner counties Center: Pictured are Drew County Assessor Beth Davis, Monticello Mayor Zachery Tucker, Drew County Clerk Lyna Gulledge, Marilyn Cooper and Drew County Justice of the Peace Carole Bulloch. Center Right: Former Gov. and First Lady Mike and Ginger Beebe pose with White County Judge Michael Lincoln and his wife, Shelley. Left: Pope County Assessor Dana Baker, former Rep. Robert Dale, Rep. Ken Henderson, whose district includes Pope County, and Pope County Collector Rita Chandler attended the reception. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015



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Farewell dinner honors retiring county treasurers

County treasurers gathered at AAC headquarters in October to honor their retiring or non-returning colleagues. The event, the theme of which was “Fifth Quarter,” featured dinner, a slide show, a caricature artist and multiple presentations. Top Left: Flora Mae Byrd of Ashley County, Brandi Stockdale of Yell County, Jolena Breedlove of Newton County, Marion Barnard of Columbia County, Ellen Robertson of Lincoln County and Becky Gattas of Phillips County display the certificates they received from the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office. Not pictured are Roger Haney of Washington County and Debra Doshier of Marion County. Top Right: Dinner tables featured “bucket list” centerpieces. Right: Washington County Treasurer Roger Haney retired after 36 years of service. Bottom Left: Searcy County Treasurer Jim Arnold delivered the invocation, Pulaski County Treasurer/Collector Debra Buckner was the organizer and emcee for the evening, and AAC consultant Eddie Jones helped serve cupcakes for dessert. Bottom Right: Hempstead County Treasurer Judy Lee Flowers shows off the caricature created for her by artist Jim Tindall.





Association of Arkansas Counties Workers’ Compensation Trust

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

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Law Clerk — Jarrod Kinnaird Family information: There is my mother, who is an amazing and strong woman. Arkansas born and raised, she is a University of Arkansas alumni and was a high school teacher for over 40 years. She recently survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and is still kicking it strong. My favorite meal: Arby’s curly fries and ketchup. The accomplishment of which I am most proud: Being able to look back on my life and be happy with how it has turned out so far.

Motto or favorite quote: “If you don’t know what you want, you end up with a lot you don’t.” — Chuck Palahniuk How long have you been at AAC and can you describe some of your projects? I joined the AAC about two weeks before Christmas. This was the perfect time to start, as my first accomplishment was eating too much food too quickly at the Christmas party and having to duck out early. Currently, my main project is to finish compiling the Code of Ordinances for nearly all of the counties of Arkansas.

The hardest thing I have ever done: Move out of Texas.

What do you like most about your position at AAC? I like being versatile. Not many jobs will require someone to go from cramming a Christmas At the top of my bucket list is to: Become a tree into a closet and then straight to doing legal grandmaster in chess. research. I enjoy the ability to multitask, as well as the knowledge I’m gaining from first-hand experience You might be surprised to learn that: working with the legal team. Jarrod I scored a perfect score on the C.L.E.E.T. What I like most about working at the AAC is easily Kinnair d Handgun Qualification Course in Oklaeveryone who works here. It’s easy to see that everyone homa. is a genuine good person, and they all work well with each other. This makes waking up early to come in for My pet peeve is: People who don’t know how to zipper merge. work extremely easy.




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About NACo – The Voice of America’s Counties NACo testifies before bicameral hearing on “Waters of the U.S.” proposed rule On Feb. 4, El Paso County, Colo. Commissioner and NACo’s First Vice President Sallie Clark, testified on behalf of the National Association of Counties (NACo) before the before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) at a hearing, “Impacts of the Proposed Waters of the United States Rule on State and Local Governments.” Clark’s testimony focused on the importance of the local, state and federal partnership in crafting practical rules to ensure clean water without impeding counties’ fundamental infrastructure and public safety functions. The rare bicameral joint hearing was led by Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) who said that he expected all 79 House T&I and Senate EPW Committee members — 20 EPW and 59 T&I committee members — to attend. The hearing focused on the impact the proposed rule would have on states, local governments, their communities, businesses and industries. In April 2014, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) jointly released a new proposed rule that would amend the definition of “waters of the U.S.” within the Clean Water Act and dramatically expand the range of public safety infrastructure that falls under federal permitting authority. Gina McCarthy, Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) testified on the first panel. Members of Congress questioned McCarthy and Darcy for three hours on the proposed rule. McCarthy indicated the proposed rule was in response to stakeholder requests for a rulemaking and, in fact, will make it easier to determine what waters fall under federal jurisdiction. Darcy stressed the rule was based on science and would give regulators in the regional offices greater clarity on jurisdictional waters. Clark was joined on the second panel by E. Scott Pruitt, Attorney General, State of Okla.; Adam H. Putnam, Florida ComCOUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015

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

missioner of Agriculture, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, on behalf of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture; Timothy Mauck, Commissioner, Clear Creek County, Colo.; and Lemeul M. Srolovic, Bureau Chief, Environmental Protection Bureau, Office of New York State Attorney General T. Schneiderman. At the hearing, Clark discussed the main reasons that contributed to NACo’s decision to call for withdrawal of the rule, including the proposal’s impacts on counties; an inadequate consultation process with state and local governments; ambiguous and inconsistent terminology; and ongoing delays with the current permitting process. After working closely with county technical experts — county engineers, legal staff, public works directors and stormwater managers — who implement federal and state programs on the ground every day, NACo this past November called for the proposed rule to be withdrawn until further analysis and more in-depth consultation with state and local officials could be completed. “NACo supports common-sense environmental protection. Expanded federal oversight and the proposal’s vague language would create more uncertainty and delays in critical work without any proven environmental benefit,” said Clark. “Let me be clear, counties support clean water. Our goal is to ensure public safety and economic vitality while safeguarding water quality. The current proposal falls short of this goal.” “This issue is so important to counties because we build, own and maintain a significant portion of public safety infrastructure. The proposed rule would have direct and extensive implications,” Clark said. Local governments own nearly 80 percent of all public road miles and half of the nation’s bridges. Counties also own water quality systems and other infrastructure like roadside ditches, storm water systems, green infrastructure and drinking water facilities. Clark emphasized the importance of the all levels of government working together to craft workable rules and implementing Clean Water Act programs on the ground. “Counties are not just stakeholders in this discussion

— we are key partners in the federal-state-local intergovernmental system,” she said. “This is an opportunity to reset the clock and work together. NACo looks forward to working with Congress and federal agencies to craft a clear, concise, workable definition of “waters of the U.S.” to achieve our common goal: to protect water quality without inhibiting the public safety and economic vitality of our communities.” Clark concluded, “In the eyes of county governments, this is not a political issue. It is an issue of practicality and partnership.” The public comment period for “waters of the U.S.” closed on November 14, 2014. The agencies are currently reviewing over one million comments and plan to release a final rule by late spring of 2015. Since the proposal was unveiled in April, NACo has advocated for greater clarity and launched an online resource hub and action center. Go to legislation/Pages/WOUS.aspx to access the hub and action center. NACo releases Economic Tracker By Emilia Istrate, Research Director NACo has released the 2014 County Economic Tracker: Progress through Adversity, an analysis of the recovery patterns across the 3,069 county economies in 2014. The conditions of a county economy can constrain and challenge county governments, residents and businesses, but can also provide opportunities. The 2014 County Economic Tracker analyzes the annual changes of four economic performance indicators — economic output, also known as gross domestic product (GDP), employment, unemployment rates and home prices — between 2013 and 2014 across county economies. In addition, it explores 2012–2013 wage dynamics, taking into account the effect of local cost-of-living and inflation of average annual wages in county economies. The focus of the report is on the county economy, not the county government. County economies are the building blocks of regional economies (metropolitan areas “NACO Briefs” Continued Page 50

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NACo news briefs and micropolitan areas), states and the nation. County governments ensure the functionality of these fundamental units by building and maintaining basic infrastructure assets, keeping communities healthy and safe, and providing the social safety net for those in need. 2014 was a year of growth, but recovery from the recession remains sluggish. By 2014, the GDP in 55 percent of all county economies recovered or did not decline as measured over the last decade. Home prices were in a similar situation. Job growth accelerated and 63 percent of county economies witnessed faster job gains than in 2013. This job growth helped unemployment decline in almost all county economies during the past year, but it was not sufficient to bring most county economies to levels seen before the recession. Nearly three-quarters of county economies are still below their pre-recession employment levels and unemployment is not back to pre-recession rates in 95 percent of county economies. However, by 2014, almost three-quarters of county economies had recovered to pre-recession levels on at least one of the indicators analyzed (GDP, employment, unemployment rates and home prices). For the first time, one large county economy (Kent County, Mich.) out of the 124 large county economies reached its unemployment rate seen before the downturn. Yet, none of the large county economies

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— counties with more than 500,000 residents — recovered on all four indicators. Smaller county economies have fared better. Sixty-five county economies recovered on all four indicators by 2014. Most are small, counties with fewer than 50,000 people. Most of them have booming energy and agriculture sectors (in states such as Alaska, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota and Texas). County economies are where Americans feel the national economy. While the 2014 national economic numbers are strong, Americans do not see them in their paychecks. For example, only 40 percent of the new jobs in 2014 were in industries paying more than the average wage in the county where the job resides. Large county economies continued to generate a disproportionate share of the new jobs in 2014, but only 38 percent of the net jobs created in the 124 large county economies were in industries paying above the 2013 average wage in their residing county. Between 2012 and 2013, average wages declined in half of county economies, when taking into consideration the cost of living and inflation. In states such as Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Maryland, only a third of county economies saw growth in their cost of living and inflation-adjusted wages. This sluggish and uneven recovery across county economies adds to the obstacles that challenge counties. Counties face a tri-


ple threat from the uncertainty around major federal policy changes, from tax reform, entitlement reform and appropriation cuts, absent any reductions in unfunded mandates or federal regulations. Counties are doing their part, investing in economic development, transportation and providing core social services. In creating economic development initiatives, counties leverage networks of public, nonprofit and private partners necessary for successful local economic development. “The County Economic Tracker is a reminder that that the U.S. economy happens on the ground, in the 3,069 county economies that provide the basis for county governments,” said Matt Chase, NACo executive director. “Economic growth is spreading, but most county economies have not recovered to levels seen before the recession on a number of indicators. This progress through adversity indicates the success of county economic development efforts, but also the continued need for a strong local-state-federal partnership in securing a strong economy.” You can find the 2014 County Economic Tracker: Progress through Adversity at www. To access the companion interactive maps and the individualized county profiles, go to NACo’s County Explorer interactive map at www.​.

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