Summer 2020 County Lines

Page 1

County Lines Summer 2020

The Official Publication of the Association of Arkansas Counties

An Arkansas Tapestry A history of the state’s counties. 24

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In This Issue SUMMER 2020



Weaving a Rich Tapestry................................................................24

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

Former Assessor Named ACD Director.........................................32

President’s Perspective......................................................................9

Pope County Assessor Joins AAC Board.......................................33

From the Governor............................................................................11

AAC Names 2020 Scholarship Recipients..................................34 Washington County Sheriff Receives Fowler Award..................36 Rural Services Awards Community Grants.................................37 County Priorities at Play in 2021 White House Budget............38

AG Opinions.......................................................................................13 Governmental Affairs.......................................................................14 Legal Corner......................................................................................15

Photo Recap: Associations Meet Virtually..................................40

Seems to Me..................................................................................... 17

AAC Staff Profiles.............................................................................42

Litigation Lessons.............................................................................22

Workers’ Compensation Fund Pays Dividends............................45

Wellness & Safety............................................................................23

Cover Notes: Summer Cleaning


(Cover photo by Holland Doran, AAC Communications Coordinator) he Arkansas Capitol Dome received a cleaning back in June by Roberts-McNutt, Inc. Waterproofing/Roofing. The dome had not been cleaned since the summer of 2006. On the dome are Zack Hansen (blue shirt) and Butch Harris (gray shirt) sharing power washing duties. Up in the cupola is Tim Hansen operating the safety lines, according to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office. notes that the Capitol Building stands 230 feet tall and features a circular central drum tower capped with a dome and cupola. Construction on the building, a replica of the White House, began in 1899 with George Mann and ended in 1915 with Cass Gilbert. The exterior is made of limestone, which was quarried in Batesville. Total construction cost was $2.2 million with today’s value of the building being $320 million. The front entrance doors are made of bronze, which are 10 feet (3 metres) tall, four inches (10 cm) thick and were purchased from Tiffany’s in New York for $10,000. The cupola is covered in 24 karat gold leaf. The Capitol was built on the site of the state penitentiary and prisoners helped construct the building. — Photos courtesy of Arkansas Secretary of State






AAC Mission Statement

Oct. 14-16 Circuit Clerks DoubleTree, Fort Smith

Oct. 24-25 Coroners Wyndham, North Little Rock

Oct. 16-18 Coroners Wyndham, North Little Rock

Jan. 31-Feb. 2 Judges DoubleTree, Little Rock

Calendar activities also are posted on our website:

Contact AAC Chris Villines, Executive Director Anne Baker, Executive Assistant Deann Campbell, Receptionist Eddie Jones, Consultant Mark Whitmore, Chief Legal Counsel Josh Curtis, Governmental Affairs Director


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.

1415 West Third Street Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 372-7550 phone / (501) 372-0611 fax Mark Harrell, IT Manager Karen Bell, Administrative Assistant

Risk Management/ Workers’ Compensation Debbie Norman, Risk Mgmt. & Insurance Director

Debbie Lakey, Workers’ Comp Claims Mgr. Cathy Perry, Admin. Asst./Claims Analyst

Ellen Wood, Admin. Asst./Receptionist Brandy McAllister, RMS Counsel Colin Jorgensen, RMF Litigation Counsel JaNan Thomas, RMF Litigation Counsel Melissa Hollowell, RMF Litigation Counsel

Holland Doran, Communications Coordinator

Kim Nash, Workers’ Comp Claims Adjuster Camille Neemann, RMF Litigation Counsel Renee Turner,Workers’ Comp Claims Adjuster Fonda Fitzgerald, RMF Paralegal Riley Groover, Claims Analyst Samantha Wren, RMF Paralegal

Karan Skarda, ACE Program Coordinator

Greg Hunt, Claims Analyst Becky Comet, Member Benefits Manager

Cindy Posey, Accountant

Kim Mitchell, Administrative Assistant Ed Piker, Loss Control Consultant

Lindsey French, Legal Counsel Christy L. Smith, Communications Director




County Lines

Navigating COVID-19 and the CARES Act funding for counties

County Lines [(ISSN 2576-1137 (print) and ISSN 2576-1145 (online)] is the official publication of the AAC. It is published quarterly. For advertising inquiries, subscriptions or other information, please contact Christy L. Smith at 501.372.7550. Executive Director/Publisher Chris Villines Communications Director/ Managing Editor Christy L. Smith Communications Coordinator/ Editor Holland Doran

AAC Executive Board: Debbie Wise – President Brandon Ellison – Vice President Jimmy Hart – Secretary-Treasurer Tommy Young Terri Harrison Debra Buckner Dana Baker Kevin Cleghorn Terry McNatt Debbie Cross Brenda DeShields Ellen Foote Doug Curtis Gerone Hobbs Marty Boyd John Montgomery Heather Stevens David Thompson National Association of Counties (NACo) Board Affiliations Debbie Wise: NACo board member. She is Randolph County Circuit Clerk and president of the AAC Board of Directors. Brandon Ellison: NACo board member. He is Polk County Judge and vice-president of the AAC Board of Directors. Ted Harden: Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Steering Committee. He is a member of the Jefferson County Quorum Court. David Hudson: Chair of Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is Sebastian Co. Judge and member of Rural Action Caucus Steering Committee and IT Standing Committee. Barry Hyde: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is the Pulaski County Judge. Rusty McMillon: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is Greene County Judge Joseph Wood: Community, Economic and Workforce Development Steering Committee. He is Washington County Judge. Kevin Smith: IT Standing Committee. He is the Sebastian County Director of Information Technology Services. Gerone Hobbs: Membership Committee. He is the Pulaski County Coroner. Paul Ellliot: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee, vice-chair of law enforcement subcommittee. He is a member of the Pulaski County Quorum Court. Ellen Foote: Community, Economic & Workforce Development Steering Committee. She is the Crittenden County Tax Collector. Tawanna Brown:Telecommunications & Technology Steering Committe. She is Crittenden County Chief Computer Operator.



or over two decades I have seen a lot of things in the government sector. And many times, the slow, methodical proclivity of government serves Chris Villines AAC us well to not overreact and create unintended Executive Director consequences. Plodding along forces multiple layers of review to make sure all angles are analyzed and evaluated. While this often is beneficial it can also create unnecessary delay and inefficiency. Then comes COVID-19. Everything I knew about our ponderous government has been thrown out the window in a series of rushed reactions it is not used to. Daily press briefings, minute by minute decisions, and changed guidance are all a part of this pandemic. And they have to be. Decisions made today set the curve in an exponential way down the road — and we are not talking about incidental significances, we are talking about lives. I know many businessmen and businesswomen who have joined the ranks of county government. Many want to “make government run like a business.” Having grown up in the business ranks I see the wisdom in business efficiencies that can, in ways, make county government better. But this political promise is always set aside in part because government is purposefully designed in areas to seek input and decision-making that businesses have the luxury of avoiding. Government values differing opinions that take time to gather and process. Businesses often react based on a CEO or Board of Directors making a decision and moving instantaneously. Both philosophies have merit and serve their respective duties well. But back to my point, government is absolutely not used to, nor is it designed for, turning on a dime and changing operations quickly. The bottom line is that during the COVID-19 pandemic we have asked government to undergo the most profound changes it has ever experienced, and to do so quickly. Furthermore, we have asked it to do so within a bulky time-consuming framework of laws designed to slowly seek due process and input that the private sector does not have to adhere to. Ladies and Gentlemen of county government in Arkansas — you have accomplished the impossible. We now have ZOOM quorum court meetings. We have segregated jails into infected and uninfected areas. We have rewritten 9-1-1 dispatch questions. We have socially distanced from our customers all the while continuing to provide mandated services. We have implemented new training, new programs and turned seldom used practices like absentee ballot voting into the norm. We have worn masks, installed plexiglass barriers, implemented protocols regarding entering courthouses and courtrooms and rewritten jobs so that some can be accomplished remotely. Again, these are things that the business community


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has dealt with as well, but not within the constitutional and statutory frameworks that create friction to such actions. I could not be prouder of you all. ***** Another fast-moving component that we are having to adjust to is the federal government’s distribution of $1.25 billion in aid to the state of Arkansas through the CARES Act. This $1.25 billion is labeled the Coronavirus Relief Fund and is administered through a 15 member CARES Act Steering Committee appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. I’d like to thank the members of this committee for recently approving $150 million of this money to be utilized by cities and counties in equal proportion for expenses related to COVID-19. Chairwoman Secretary Elizabeth Smith, Sen. Missy Irvin and Rep. Lane Jean have worked closely with us to put together a plan to allocate and distribute these funds.

The Department of Finance and Administration under the watchful eye of Secretary Larry Walther and Deputy Director Paul Louthian is working with us through the final stages of preparing applications and submittal processes. The state has partnered with CTEH Consulting/Hagerty Group to help facilitate this. We expect the application to be available online in the next few days and we will be working through the County Judges to facilitate this work. Unfortunately, any of this money ($1.25 billion) not spent by Dec. 30 reverts to the federal government, which puts our counties on a very tight deadline for these applications. Our first deadline for applications is Oct. 30 so I expect a lot of data to be gathered over the next several weeks. Please coordinate all efforts within your county with your County Judge. The process is complicated in that some of the expenses will be submitted for FEMA reimbursement and others to the CARES Act, and we need one point of contact within each county to prevent duplicative requests. Stay safe and stay healthy my county friends.

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The leadership behind the AAC


xecutive Director Chris Villines is one of the most visible figures within the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC). However, the executive director position itself might be one of the least understood. What exactly does the executive director do? In a word — everything. Chris, who was hired by the AAC Board of Directors in mid-2010, is the eighth executive director the AAC has seen since its establishment in 1968 as a small lobbyist firm. His predecessors include Frank Bizzell (1969 to late 1974), Carl J. Madsen (late 1974 to Feb. 1975), former Lee County Sheriff Courtney Langston (Feb. 1975 to 1988), former Baxter County Judge James H. Baker (1988 to Oct. 2000), former White County Judge David Morris (Oct. 2000 to Jan. 2001), Brenda Pruitt (Jan. 2001 to 2006), and former Randolph County Treasurer/Comptroller Eddie A. Jones (2007 to June 2010). The role of the AAC has evolved through the years. It is now a “multi-faceted service organization for Arkansas’ 75 counties,” according to Eddie Jones, who continues to work with the AAC as a consultant — and is known as the resident historian. So too the role of the executive director has evolved through the years. “The first AAC executive director was primarily a legislative lobbyist with two employees and a small rented office space,” Eddie said. “Today’s executive director has about three dozen employees and an 18,800-square-foot office facility owned by the counties of Arkansas and provides a myriad of services.” Today’s executive director essentially manages three companies: the AAC, the AAC Risk Management Fund, and the AAC Worker’s Compensation Trust. In addition, he oversees a legislative/policy team, a communications department, a continuing education department, a finance/accounting department, a risk management department, and a worker’s compensation department. The executive director’s duties don’t begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. He is on constant call, responding to legislators, the Governor, any of the 1,332 county and district officials the AAC serves … and others. He attends state

government meetings, legislative meetings, and national meetings. He oversees the organization and orchestration of the AAC summer conference each year. He juggles a lot, and I commend Chris for juggling it so successfully. He is a true DEBBIE WISE leader and visionary, like those who AAC Board President; preceded him. Randolph County Circuit Clerk During Chris’ tenure, all 75 counties have joined the AAC Risk Management program. The AAC enjoys a healthy relationship with the Arkansas Municipal League (ARML). In fact, the AAC and the ARML joined together, along with the state, to undertake a massive lawsuit against the opioid industry. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Chris immediately assembled an expert team to provide county and district officials with information regarding jails, employment issues, and general information about the virus. He has been vocal in his defense of our retirement system. Did you know Chris is immediate past president of the National Council of County Association Executives, (NCCAE) a committee of the National Association of Counties (NACo)? His work on that committee cast a national spotlight on him, AAC and Arkansas. He advocated for us not only on the state stage, but also on the national stage. As a result, the AAC is one of the strongest county government associations in the country. We have been blessed to have confident and talented people serving in the executive director’s role at the AAC. And I am proud to have Chris Villines at the helm at this time in our history.

Debbie Wise Debbie Wise Randolph County Circuit Clerk / AAC Board President COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020




Leveling the broadband playing field


OVID-19 has highlighted some of the shortcomings of our broadband connectivity, but the pandemic also has created opportunities for us to accelerate our expansion of internet service, which I’d like to talk about today. Earlier this year, I created a steering committee to study our needs and recommend the best use of federal money that is returning to the state through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. The members of the committee recognized that many rural communities in our state are in dire need of better access to high-speed internet. Senate President Jim Hendren and House Speaker Matthew Shepherd of the General Assembly advocated for the expenditure of $100 million for Arkansas Rural Connect, a great program to assist our local communities in expanding internet access. The coronavirus has limited many of our normal activities, such as attending school and visiting a doctor. The internet has allowed us to adapt to the difficulties. Without effective broadband, many Arkansans would not be able to adapt and access distance learning or keep a telemedicine appointment with a doctor. The state has made grants to seven companies: $1.6 million to Arkansas Telephone Company to serve parts of Fairfield Bay; $1.9 million to Pinnacle Communications for parts of Ozark; $2 million to CableSouth Media 3 to serve Lonoke and $2 million for Hamburg; $449,000 was granted to Premier Holdings for Nashville; Hillbilly Wireless will receive $497,000 for Cotton Plant and another $804,000 for Cave City. Magazine Telephone Company will receive a little more

than a million dollars in nonCARES Act money for Magazine. In another of our ongoing efforts to expand broadband service, the legislature created the Rural Broadband I.D. Expenses Trust Fund. This money is being Hon. ASA awarded as one-time grants to HuTCHINSON help service providers meet rigorGovernor of Arkansas ous requirements for due diligence for large federal grant programs with the United States Department of Agriculture and the Federal Communications Commission. Rural Broadband I.D. is based at UAMS’s Office of Digital Health and Innovation. With Rural Broadband I.D., we are deploying a broader and more detailed strategy for expanding broadband across the most rural parts of our state. Broadband service must download at a rate of at least 25 megabits per second and upload at 3 megabits per second, which would load a normal song in one second and a twohour movie in 10 minutes. Broadband at these speeds will level the playing field as we compete on a global scale. Arkansans in rural communities will have access to the same information and services as people in Fort Smith and Fayetteville.

Asa Hutchinson The Honorable Asa Hutchinson Governor of Arkansas

We want to hear from YOU Tell us your good news. Be sure to let us know if an aspect of county government “made news” recently in your county. Or if your county officials or staff get an award, appointment or pat on the back. We want the whole state to know about your successes and accomplishments. Contact Communications Director Christy L. Smith at



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AG Opinions: ACD valuations, mental health evaluations, and fire districts AG OPINION NO. 2019-053 The Attorney General weighed in on the authority of the Assessment Coordination Division (ACD) of the Department of Finance and Administration to issue valuation models and guidelines. The AG explained the ACD is not required to submit their valuation models for poultry houses for the approval of the General Assembly under Amendment 92. The various evaluation models that the ACD issues are not rules. Amendment 92 of the Arkansas Constitution did not change the meaning of what constitutes a rule by a state agency. The evaluation models of the ACD do not interpret or prescribe law or policy; and therefore, are not subject to review by the General Assembly. The ACD guidance and evaluation models are necessary to assist assessors in performing their duties under the Arkansas Constitution to assess real and personal property in Arkansas. AG OPINION NO. 2019-052 The AG determined that a circuit judge may not consider a criminal defendant’s status as an indigent in whether or not to order a mental evaluation. A court-ordered mental evaluation can not be granted or denied based upon the defendant’s economic status. There is some suggestion that a court may order a fitness to proceed evaluation under ACA §5-2-327 and require the non-indigent defendant to cover those costs even if the state requests the examination. A criminal defendant may request and be granted the ability to seek his or her own independent evaluation. A second opinion evaluation. The state is not required to pay for shopping for doctors. The state has no obligation to pay for an evaluation retained by the defendant as per ACA § 16-86-105. AG OPINION NO. 2019-067 The AG explained some of the distinctions between an advisory board and administrative board as provided by ACA § 14-14-705. Counties can elect by ordinance whether to

establish an advisory board or administrative board. A county advisory board lacks decisionmaking authority, is not a governing body, and therefore may Mark Whitmore not be subject to the Freedom AAC Chief Counsel of Information Act (FOIA). The AG noted that the lack of codification of an ordinance, such as the ordinance creating the county election commission advisory, does not render an ordinance invalid. The AG explained that if the county followed the requisites under the law for the adoption of an ordinance, it is not to be held invalid for failure to be confided within a uniform code.

AG OPINION NOs. 2019-032 and 2019-064 The AG responded to inquiries from the Hon. Daniel Shue, prosecuting attorney, Twelfth Judicial District, concerning Act 1077 of 2019, which sought to provide for the establishment and continuation of a fire protection district in the absence of the will of the people. Previous AG Opinions Nos. 2019-0032 and 2018-136 interpreted Act 1077 of 2019, ACA § 14-284-226. The AG determined that the act was not retroactive and came into effect prospectively. The AG determined that Act 1077 of 2019 did not violate Amendment 30 of the Arkansas Constitution or the power of the quorum court to enact county taxes. The AG concluded that the assessments of fire protection districts are merely assessments and not taxes. The AG explicitly determined that the act does not violate separation of powers under Article 4, Section 2, of the Arkansas Constitution. The AG indicated that there’s no established procedure to be followed if a quorum court refuses to establish a fire protection district as provided by Act 1077 of 2019.

Follow us on Facebook @75ARcounties COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020





Redistricting in Arkansas

errymandering — what does this word really Article 8, Section 1 of the Arkanmean and where did it come from? You hear sas Constitution created “The Board both political parties using this word at the of Apportionment,” consisting of beginning of each decade. Gerrymandering the Governor (who shall be Chairmeans to manipulate the boundaries of an electoral constitu- man), the Secretary of State and the ency to create a result to favor one party or class. Early in Attorney General. This board’s duty the 19th century, Gov. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts drew is to draw 100 state house districts Josh Curtis a new voting district that favored his party. The district was and 35 senate districts following Governmental Affairs Director shaped like a salamander. This district map was published in each federal census. Arkansas Code § the Boston Weekly Messenger with the title The Gerry-Man- 7-2-101 through § 7-2-105 is where der. Hence the word Gerrymandering. you will find the composition of all Every 10 years at the turn of the decade officials are required four congressional districts. These districts are amended by the to redistrict all district lines for elected officials to provide equal general assembly after each federal census, as well. Arkansas is known as a mixed method state, using the representation for every citizen. These officials include all four congressional seats, 35 state senate seats, 100 seats in the state Board of Apportionment to draw the legislative lines and the state legislature to draw House of Representathe congressional lines. tives, and countless There are three other justice of the peace and mixed states — Missouri, city council districts. rkansas is known as a mixed method state, using Ohio and Pennsylvania. Amendment 55, Seven states have a board Section 2 of the Arkanthe Board of Apportionment to draw the legislalike that of Arkansas, but sas Constitution states drawing both congressiothe county’s election tive lines and the state legislature to draw the congressional and legislative lines. commission “shall, afThirty-six states have the ter each decennial cennal lines. There are three other mixed states — Missouri, state legislature drawing sus, divide the county Ohio and Pennsylvania. all the lines. Only four into convenient and states have an Indepensingle member districts dent Commission as the so the Quorum Court redistricting authority. shall be based upon the inhabitants of the county with each member representing, These states are California, Arizona, Colorado, and Michigan. This article was supposed to be all about ballot Issue 4, as nearly as practicable, an equal number thereof.” Arkansas Code § 7-4-102 outlines that the membership of the county “The Arkansas Citizens’ Redistricting Commission Amendboard of election commissioners shall consist of two members ment.” The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled 6-1 in late August elected by the county committee of the majority party; and that Issue 4 and Issue 5 did not qualify for the ballot because one member elected by the county committee of the minority sponsors failed to certify that paid canvassers passed required party. According to Arkansas Code § 7-1-101 (18), “major- background checks. Sponsors using the word “acquired” when ity party” means “that political party in the State of Arkansas submitting information about canvasser background checks whose candidates were elected to a majority of the constitu- to the state led to tens of thousands of voter signatures being tional offices of this state in the last preceding general elec- tossed and Issue 4 and Issue 5 being struck from the ballot. tion.” There are seven constitutional offices in Arkansas, so if This issue will come back up in some sort of fashion in the the Republicans hold only three of those offices, as they did future, so I will go ahead and let you see what both sides said after the 2010 general election, then the Democrats are the about this proposed constitutional amendment. Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman Doyle Webb said, majority party. The Republicans now, of course, hold all seven “This proposal is another out-of-state billionaire-funded atof the state’s constitutional offices. Therefore each county election commission has two Republicans and one Democrat that draws new district lines for their counties. See “Redistricting” on Page 46 > > >






The 2020 General Election in Arkansas: what to expect and trying to navigate the unexpected


glimpse of any commercial break or news broad- perform certain eye surgeries. The cast on network television leaves no doubt — Supreme Court has also struck this presidential election season has arrived. Presi- referendum from the ballot due to LINDSEY FRENCH dential elections bring out more voters, so others lack of sufficient signatures. ThereGeneral Counsel on the ballot are clamoring to make sure voters who might fore, it appears at the time of this otherwise be uninformed on their race have at least heard of article that Issues 1, 2, and 3 will be their name. Besides candidates for President, others such as the only ballot issues counted in the Congressional offices, state General Assembly seats, justice of general election. the peace districts, city offices, and school board positions will Additionally, there has been an exceptional amount of nabe decided on Nov. 3. tional media coverage over the safety and security of our elecAdditionally, three issues referred to voters by the Arkan- tions, particularly when it comes to mail-in voting. Procedures sas General Assembly for mail-in voting vary will appear on the balfrom state to state, and lot: Issue 1, to permait is important to know nently continue the the law and security ov. Asa Hutchinson issued an executive order collection of an existing precautions taken in half-penny sales tax for your state. In Arkansas, making it crystal clear that concerns about the highways, roads, and an unprecedented numbridges, which will othber of residents are exCOVID-19 virus are a proper excuse for being “unavoiderwise sunset in 2023; pected to vote by mail. Issue 2, to set term The process in Arkansas ably absent” from the polls to qualify under Arkansas law limits for members of is called “absentee votthe Arkansas General ing,” and has been in for an absentee ballot. Assembly to 12 years, practice for decades. with certain cooling off Under this system, a provisions; and Issue 3, registered voter must which amends the prosend their local county cesses by which legislative referrals and signature-petition led clerk an application for a ballot. The county clerk then verifies initiatives are qualified to be placed on the ballot. Issues 2 and that the resident applying for a ballot is a properly registered 3 are currently being challenged in the same lawsuit in the voter, and then provides them a ballot. This can be done either Pulaski County Circuit Court, seeking an injunction to keep by mail, or by designated bearer (or authorized agent if the them from appearing on the ballot, claiming the ballot titles voter is in an assisted living facility). are insufficient and misleading. Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued an executive order making it Two other signature-driven initiatives were recently struck crystal clear that concerns about the COVID-19 virus are a down by the Arkansas Supreme Court and will not appear proper excuse for being “unavoidably absent” from the polls on the ballot. The Court found that both the initiative to es- to qualify under Arkansas law for an absentee ballot. However, tablish open primaries as well as the one to create an inde- I am unaware of any time in Arkansas history where a court pendent redistricting committee lacked sufficient signatures to has invalidated a voter’s ballot because their excuse for being appear on the November ballot. A third initiative to expand absent from the polls was legally insufficient. Additionally, the Arkansas’s casinos from four to sixteen also failed to make it state has received CARES Act funds, a portion to be used for onto the ballot after its sponsor dropped its lawsuit against the the sole purpose of providing safe and secure elections. The Secretary of State over insufficient signatures. Finally, a rare veto referendum, known as Issue 6, sought to overturn a 2019 See “Voting” on Page 16 > > > law passed by the General Assembly to allow optometrists to






Voting Secretary of State’s office has provided personal protective equipment to counties to make polling sites safe, and counties will be able to apply for reimbursement for other COVID-19 related expenses incurred. The Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners has issued guidance to the counties with clear procedures on the processing of absentee ballots as well as best practices for use during in-person early and election-day voting. Those preferring to vote in person are encouraged to vote early. Early voting locations may vary from election day locations, so officials recommend that you check with your local county clerk’s office or the Secretary of State’s website to find the location(s) where you can vote early, up to two weeks before election day starting Oct. 19. Voting early allows you the peace of mind of knowing that your vote was received and counted, while also avoiding long lines and unnecessary exposure to large crowds that may accumulate on election day. Voters are strongly encouraged to wear a mask and maintain proper social distancing while in lines to protect themselves and others. The most important function of a mask is to prevent its wearer from spreading the virus via water droplets


Continued From Page 16


to others; wearing one might prevent you from unknowingly spreading the virus to others, including high-risk individuals. It is also worth noting that Arkansas prohibits voters from electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place, and this would include wearing masks that contain the name of a candidate or issue that is on the ballot. Masks will be provided at polling sites for those who need one. County clerks, county election commissioners, and other election officials across the state have worked tirelessly for months to ensure that Arkansas elections will be handled safely and securely. Poll workers at voting sites receive little compensation and are doing their best to follow the training that they have received. In conclusion, we can all do our part: if voting by absentee, apply for and return your ballot early rather than waiting until the last minute; if voting in person, strongly consider voting early to avoid long lines and large crowds; and finally, no matter how you choose to exercise your right to vote, please practice patience, kindness, and respect for others who are all simply trying to do the best they can in the given the circumstances.




Extreme change in the Administration of Justice caused by Act 1256 of 1995 25 years later some are still trying to figure it out


ver do a 180? The Arkansas Legislature did in 1995. In geometry we would call it a “straight angle” — not an acute angle; not a right angle; not an obtuse or reflex angle; but a 180-degree straight angle. The legislature made a radical change in the fundamental government service of administration of justice. Every legislative session we see change in county law. For the most part, those changes are little things that are not difficult to handle or navigate. But with the passage of Act 1256 of 1995 we experienced extreme change. Sometimes it takes something drastic to accomplish what needs to be done. No doubt they got our attention with Act 1256, which started out as Senate Bill 609 by the late Sen. Wayne Dowd of Texarkana. This piece of legislation was an extreme change in the way the judicial system was funded and how we handled filing fees and court costs at the local level. Extreme change reminds me of a young man named John. John received a parrot as a gift. Problem was, the parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious, and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to “clean up” the bird’s vocabulary, but to no avail. Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and ruder. In desperation, John threw up his hands, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly, there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he’d killed the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arm and said, “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I am sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions, and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.” John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued. “May I ask what the chicken did?” That’s the way we in county government felt. We wondered what we had done to deserve such “confusion” thrown on us. This legislation was wholesale change, and there are very few of COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020

us left in county government who remember the “old way” and the “new way.” Eddie A. Jones I was one of a few asked to work with County Consultant the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and the Department of Finance and Administration’s (DFA) Office of Administrative Services to develop an implementation plan and to go around the state trying to help city and county officials “figure it out.” The act affected county clerks, circuit clerks, district court clerks, county treasurers and city treasurers. Talk about a monumental task. Some in office at that time never got it. Some quit. That’s the truth with my hand up; they walked out never to return. It was too much change for some to handle. So how did all this get started? It’s like a lot of other things. You start hearing talk a session or two before you ever see anything in writing. The AOC were put on the hot seat a number of times to provide information to the General Assembly and could not provide adequate answers, other than “this county charges this and another that, and we don’t have a good reporting system.” It was generally established that the system of funding the state judicial system had created inequity in the level of judicial services available to the citizens of the state. It was further determined that the method of financing the state judicial system had become unduly complex so as to make the administration of the system impossible. The legislature determined there was no reliable data on the cost of the state judicial system. So they deemed it necessary to do something. Act 1256 changed the system — a lot. It did not fix everything. It did not solve all the problems. It could have accomplished more than it has if it had been implemented correctly everywhere and continued to be carried out everywhere in accordance with the law. But because it was a huge shift in procedure and administration of the courts, some did not understand and simply “flew by the seat of their pants” and “hoped for the best.” Although the 1994 base year figures were to be verified by Legislative Audit in the beginning year of the new system, we now know that some were incorrect — and that has made the numbers wrong in those jurisdictions for all these years. Some counties/cities have recalculated with the help of good See

“Change” on

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Change records and the help of the AOC to get their original numbers changed so the local entities are getting credit for the proper funds each month. The intent of Act 1256 of 1995 and amending legislation since was at least four-fold: 1. To eliminate the current system of collecting and assessing a large number of individual courts costs and filing fees. There were many separate court costs assessed — 25 cents for this; 50 cents for that; $1 for another; $3 for this; $10 for another; etc. Records were kept of each of those individual courts costs by the appropriate clerk. They were remitted to the city or county treasurer on a monthly basis, and the treasurer made proper disposition of the funds, either by crediting the funds to the proper local fund or sending the funds to the proper state agency. There were separate court costs for any number of things, such as County Law Library; City Attorney Fees; Prosecuting Attorney Fees; Public Defender Investigator; Indigent Defense; County Jail Revenue Bond; Policeman’s Pension; Municipal Judge and Clerk Retirement; DWI court cost; Intoxication Detection Equipment; Drug Abuse Fund; Victim Witness; Alcohol Treatment Program; etc. And listen to this — filing fees in the various courts varied from county to county. I know this sounds complicated, but that’s what we were accustomed to. Change is difficult for most, and the “new system” was totally different. 2. To replace the old system with a “uniform cost and fee schedule” to be applied statewide. Act 1256 established a uniform court cost for the various courts and types of cases and a uniform filing fee for the various divisions of the courts. Of course, the original code has been amended several times since 1995, and the court cost and filing fee amounts have changed. 3. To prohibit the implementation of new costs and fees for specific programs in the future. Before Act 1256, local governments had the ability to, by ordinance, assess new court costs and change filing fees. No longer. One of the reasons for Act 1256 was to make costs uniform across the state and create more equity in the judicial services across the state. With the passage of Act 1256 of 1995 and follow-up legislation in 1997, dozens of codes or parts of codes were repealed. 4. To create a reporting system to allow the General Assembly to obtain accurate data to determine the cost to the state for the funding of the judicial system. What the state found out, although for the most part they have not acknowledged it, is that the counties of Arkansas are subsidizing the cost of the state court 18

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system. In 2014 counties retained $18.4 million in revenue for the courts, basically from our share of the Administration of Justice Fund and circuit court fines, but we expended $64.1 million. That means the state court system cost county government $45.7 million in general funds not raised through the court system. Talk about getting in “high gear.” This monumental change in law had an emergency clause, and most of it went into effect on July 1, 1995. So the rush was on to get everything in place. The bill was signed and became Act 1256 on April 13, 1995. There were 2 ½ months until implementation. County clerks, circuit clerks, district court clerks, county treasurers and city treasurers had to become aware of the paradigm shift in court operations almost overnight. And calculations for city and county shares had to be made quickly. I believe that’s why there has continued to be a lot of misunderstanding and problems, even though this system has now been in place for 25 years. Too many that were in office when it started never quite grasped the new law and how it worked. Be thankful if you followed officials in your county and cities that understood and implemented it correctly. Pursuant to Act 1256 of 1995 Administration of Justice Funds were established at the state, county and municipal levels. These funds were established on the books of each entity to credit their share of uniform court costs and filing fees to fund or help fund the programs that each remained responsible for. The uniform filing fees and court costs were established in Act 1256 for the various divisions of the court system. The fees were the same all over the state, unlike under the old system. The fees set were high enough to keep almost all entities whole and provide excess for the state Administration of Justice Fund. However, the new fees set were below the fees of a few court systems. How did each city and county know what share of the fees and costs to keep locally and what share to remit to the state? The Act established a process to determine the local government’s share. Of course, the remaining amount was to be remitted to the State Administration of Justice Fund so the state could continue to fund the agencies or programs that we had previously been remitting from the local level either to an agency or program directly from the counties and municipalities. Since the inception of Act 1256, when there were only 15 programs or agencies funded by the state share. There are now 25 agencies or programs funded, at least in part, through the State Administration of Justice Fund. The biggies are the Public Defender Commission; Court Reporter Fund; Trial Court Administrator Fund; Dependency-Neglect Representation through AOC; Crime Victims/Reparations Fund; Legal Education — law schools at the University of Arkansas COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020



at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas Bowen School court. You simply divided that total by 12 to get the monthly of Law; and the Constitutional Officers Fund for the fullshare of uniform filing fees and costs. These county forms time District Judge salaries. There are many others, including would have a place for filing fees; county law library; indigent a couple for which counties receive money: county reimdefense; victim witness; county jail revenue bond; public debursement for jurors and court security grants. The current fender investigator; DWI costs; Drug Abuse Fund; prosecuting appropriation for the State Administration of Justice Fund is attorney fees; and others that a county might add. about $40 million. The Municipal Court form, as it was called then [district So what was the process to determine the county share? court as we know it since the passage of Amendment 80 in It is set out in Arkansas Code § 16-10-307, which estabNovember 2000 with an effective date of July 1, 2001] was lished the County Administration of Justice Fund. Counties a little more complicated. It involved more courts and more retained an amount equal to the dollar amount collected in people — one part was city revenue and another part was the base year of 1994 in court costs and filing fees for county county revenue. There was a form for the criminal and traffic administration of justice expense. This did not include those division of district court — one for the civil division and one court costs that we collected and remitted directly to state for the small claims division. agencies or proThe district grams, but those court forms confees and costs we tained a column had heretofore for the amount of kept locally. This each cost or fee ursuant to Act 1256 of 1995 Administration of Justice charged per case, affected filing fees a column for the and court costs in Funds were established at the state, county and municipal amount of money probate division collected for each of Circuit Court, levels. These funds were established on the books of each entity to cost in 1994, and which are handled a column for the by the county clerk credit their share of uniform court costs and filing fees to fund or total amount actuin most instances; ally disbursed in filing fees and help fund the programs that each remained responsible for. 1994. court costs in other Then the divisions of circuit amounts had to court, which are be broken down handled by the to account for circuit clerk; filing what fees and fees and court costs in district court, handled by the district costs were city monies and what were county monies. Some court clerk and the city treasurer since district court colleccosts were county only, others were city only, and some were tions are to run through the City Administration of Justice Fund before remitting the county its share. It took collabora- shared. Costs collected for law library, indigent defense, public defender investigator, and prosecuting attorney were tion to develop the numbers to calculate proper shares for county-only costs. City-only costs included police pension, each entity. municipal judge and clerk retirement, alcohol treatment proDFA’s Office of Administrative Services sent out forms gram costs, and city attorney fees. Counties and cities shared to the city and county treasurers to verify the fees and costs things like filing fees, possibly drug abuse fund costs [in some charged and the amounts collected in 1994. There were counties], possibly intoxication detection equipment fees, separate forms for probate court, chancery, Circuit Court and DWI costs. Criminal, and Circuit Court Civil. They had to be filled out Once those numbers were calculated, the district court and signed by the appropriate clerk, the county treasurer and base revenue for the local Administration of Justice Fund was county judge. The forms already contained the various state known. Whatever the total of those various fees and costs codes that either required the assessment of certain filing fees were for 1994, you divided it by 12 and had the monthly reor costs or allowed for the assessment of certain costs. The tainage from district court. It was also easy to calculate what county could then include any other cost that was not on the percentage was city and what percentage was county. That form but was being collected by virtue of a local ordinance. After certifying the amount of filing fees and court costs colSee “Change” on Page 20 > > > lected in 1994, the county had its base number for circuit






Change percentage varied across the state. In my home county, for instance, the percentage was 26 percent city and 74 percent county in district court. Except for the numerous district court fees or fines that are listed on the Miscellaneous Fee/Fine Collection Report that the district court clerk should remit directly to the State Administration of Justice Fund, the district court clerk is to remit the district court uniform filing fees/costs to the various city treasurers that are a part of the district court. The city treasurer is to forward the county share percentage to the county treasurer for credit to the County Administration of Justice Fund; retain the city share in the City Administration of Justice Fund; and remit the remainder to the State Administration of Justice Fund. I need to remind everyone that in an amendment to this legislation in 1997, counties gave up 85 percent of their public defender base year revenue effective Jan. 1, 1998, when the state made public defenders state employees and started paying their salary. Counties retained only 15 percent of that base-year public defender revenue to help pay for the office operations of the public defender. The County Administration of Justice Fund must be used to defray a part of the expense of the administration of justice in the county. It is from this fund that a county must continue to finance certain agencies or programs that were being funded locally prior to Act 1256 of 1995 in accordance with § 16-10-307. They are: 1. Prosecuting Attorney Fund [a department of County General in many counties]; 2. Prosecutor’s Victim-Witness Program; 3. Public Defender/Indigent Defense/Public Defender Investigator Fund [should all be one fund called Public Defender Fund]; 4. County Law Library; 5. County Jail Fund; and 6. Intoxication Detection Equipment Fund. Those six programs or departments must continue to be funded by a county, if a county was funding them in 1994, “at a funding level no less than they were funded in 1994.” Any increase in Administration of Justice Funding through Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) does not necessarily have to follow the programs on a prorated basis. The County Administration of Justice funding originally was written to include a COLA each year based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). We got that increase through 2001, although some years it was very small. Then the COLA was taken away, and we were frozen at the 2001 level for 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. In 2005 we got the COLA reinstated 20

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starting in 2006. And then the State Administration of Justice Fund got into trouble financially, and the COLA section was changed in 2013 legislation so that any annual adjustment in the amount retained locally is “based upon the lesser of the average percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for the two years immediately preceding or the percentage rate of increase in collections of the State Administration of Justice Fund for the two years immediately preceding.” That change was demanded by the Gov. Mike Beebe administration to protect the state. If there’s no growth or less growth in the State Administration of Justice Fund than the national CPI, cities and counties get no increase. Since that legislative change, counties received a zero increase in 2014; a 1.8 percent increase in 2015; and a zero increase for 2016 through 2020. Act 1256 of 1995 surely did change the way the Arkansas court system and ancillary programs or agencies were funded. It was definitely a sea change to the way we had always done it. So for those of you who were not around in 1995 and wondered how and why the Administration of Justice Fund works like it does, now you know. Too bad someone didn’t warn us. This was one of those things that if we lived in a perfect world and everyone involved had perfect understanding of what was happening, it could have worked well. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and not everyone understood what was happening with this legislation. This was one of those occasions where “old dogs” were learning “new tricks” — and most of the time old dogs don’t learn new tricks, or at least not easily. It was too much at once for many — definitely a broad transformation. It was one of those things that just couldn’t be done in the minds of many elected officials. But it was — even if imperfectly. Our old disorganized system has been replaced by our new disorganized system, although I must admit it is a better system. If your Administration of Justice Fund doesn’t operate like I’ve explained it, I’m not telling you to change. I have simply explained it as it was enacted and intended. I don’t want you talking about me like Calvin Coolidge did about Herbert Hoover. Coolidge served the rest of Warren Harding’s presidential term after he died and was elected to a term of his own. He declined to run for his second full term. Hoover, who had served as Secretary of Commerce under both Harding and Coolidge, succeeded Coolidge. Coolidge said of Hoover, “That man has offered me unsolicited advice for six years, all of it bad.” At times extreme change is needed. This was probably one of those times. I don’t want to be accused of giving unsolicited advice, but if you’re still struggling with the Administration of Justice Fund after all these years, give me a call. Maybe this old dog can help you learn a new trick. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020

MENTAL HEALTH & ADDICTION SERVICES IN ARKANSAS All Arkansans have access to mental health & addiction services. • Individual & Group Counseling • Family Counseling • Substance Abuse & Addiction Counseling & Treatment • Parent & Child Counseling for Children Under 4 • Medication Management • Help During a Mental Health Crisis If you have Medicaid, or are without insurance coverage and can’t pay for treatment on your own, you can get counseling and treatment services paid for by the state.

Steps to Access Care


Call the DHS Mental Health & Addiction Services Support Line


2 3 TIP:

Let person answering phone know if you have insurance. It’s okay if you don’t.

Choose a provider to call for an appointment. You might want to call all of the choices to get the soonest available appointment. For counseling services, providers are expected to see you within 10 days.

4 TIP:

Available: Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

At your first appointment, you will meet your provider who will talk with you and decide what services you may need. Bring a list of your doctors and the medications you are taking.


Some providers may require proof of income and a small payment at the time of services. Ask if your provider has a sliding fee scale based on income.

Visit for more information.



The presumption of constitutionality


n a former professional life, I was lead counsel for the state of Arkansas in defense of the state’s marriage definition, which was challenged in litigation by same-sex couples who sought to marry and have their marriages recognized by the state of Arkansas. Arkansas law was clear at the time — written into both the constitution (Amendment 83) and several statutes. Civil marriage was limited to a marriage between one man and one woman. Regardless of anyone’s opinion at the time about the wisdom or constitutionality of those Arkansas laws, there was no dispute about what Arkansas law required and what Arkansas law forbade. The constitutional question about marriage was resolved on June 26, 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that states must allow same-sex couples to marry. Prior to the ruling, some Arkansas clerks and officials charged with issuing marriage licenses in other states wondered whether they could or should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples before Obergefell, based on their belief that laws forbidding clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses were unconstitutional. Some clerks noted they are sworn by oath to uphold the constitutions, and perhaps that means they should not enforce a law they suspect is unconstitutional. After Obergefell, some clerks wondered if they could or should deny same-sex marriage licenses despite Obergefell, as Arkansas law required them to do before Obergefell. The legal answer to the clerks’ apparent quandary before and after Obergefell is simple and clear, and it is the same for all such questions — clerks should follow the law as enacted by valid lawmaking authorities, and as interpreted by controlling courts. Until Obergefell, Arkansas law plainly forbade clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. A clerk had no legal authority to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and was forbidden from doing so under Arkansas law. A clerk’s opinion that the Arkansas prohibition was unconstitutional prior to Obergefell did not grant the clerk new authority, or change Arkansas law. So, before Obergefell, all Arkansas clerks were obliged to deny same-sex marriage licenses, without exception. After Obergefell, the marriage definition was enjoined, and clerks were ordered by the Court to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples on the same terms and conditions as marriage licenses for oppositesex couples, without exception. There was never a time in the llitigation when it was appropriate for a clerk to violate Arkansas law, or to defy a binding court precedent. The same is true for most if not all questions about the constitutionality of validly enacted laws, and the duties of public officials who execute and enforce those laws. Public officials are bound to follow the law and the constitution. If Congress passes a tax law and charges the IRS with enforcement, an IRS agent and the IRS itself lack discretion to refuse to 22

enforce the law on the ground that it might be declared unconstitutional and enjoined by a court someday. If the legislature passes a law charging the state medical board with revoking the medical license of any physician performing a late-term abortion, the medical board lacks the Colin Jorgensen Risk Management discretion to decline enforcement of Litigation Counsel that law just because it might someday be declared unconstitutional. If the Governor issues an executive order under his statutory emergency powers granted by the legislature, and charges public officials with enforcement of emergency measures, the charged officials lack the discretion to decline enforcement on the ground that the executive order might someday be declared unconstitutional and enjoined by a court. You get the idea. State and federal courts commonly refer to the “axiom” that every validly enacted law has a strong presumption of constitutionality. In court cases, the presumption of constitutionality places the burden of proof on the party challenging a law to prove its unconstitutionality — any doubts about the law will be resolved in favor of the law’s constitutionality. Unless and until a court declares a law unconstitutional and enjoins enforcement of the law, the law is presumed to be constitutional. There also is a presumption that public officials will follow the law in the performance of their duties. This means public officials should also presume the constitutionality of validly enacted laws and execute and enforce validly enacted laws unless a court issues an injunction and orders that a law not be enforced. Public officials should not be held constitutionally liable for executing and enforcing a validly enacted law that is later declared unconstitutional by a court. Logically, public officials cannot be required to follow a court’s ruling about the unconstitutionality of a law before the court announces its decision. Nor can or should officials be held liable for performing ministerial duties and following the law at any time. The presumption of the constitutionality of a validly enacted law, and the presumption that a public official will follow the law, arise from the separation of powers among the three branches of our state and federal governments. As U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote in 1825, “the legislature makes, the executive executes, and the judiciary construes the law.” The presumption of constitutionality, and the presumption that public officials will follow the law, are fundamental and essential to the rule of law in our constitutional democracy. And these presumptions allow public officials to follow the law without the burden of questioning or judging the constitutionality of laws. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020



Handling ‘caution fatigue’


hen this pandemic started I, like many people, thought I would work from home for two or three weeks, the virus would die out, and I would go back to life as usual. Fast forward a few months, the virus is still here, and we all are tired of being cooped up, tired of being careful, and tired of being scared. We are experiencing “caution fatigue.” I read a great analogy that describes the way I feel. Doug Misquitta, MD, a psychiatrist with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center says, “It’s like you prepared to run a 5K, but you got to the start of the race to find out you’d signed up for a 100-mile ultramarathon at night through the woods.” Even though we have never experienced a situation like this is our lifetime, brain science says caution fatigue is a normal brain response. Here is the simplified version of the brain science: different areas of the brain react to perceived threat, fears, stress, and so on. When we are exposed to that stimuli over a period, our brains adjust our internal alarms to mitigate the constant, prolonged stress. This causes us to take longer to respond to a warning or to ignore it altogether. Also, the brain’s way of processing new details becomes more difficult because the method of gathering those details is mostly digital. With social isolation/distancing we cannot rely on the part of the brain that helps us understand information by processing social cues. That is why learning with people helps us process and reinforces responsible behavior. Research has been done on communities on the stages of stress from disaster. Early on, communities pull together. People support each other like we did in the first few weeks of the pandemic. Eventually heroic spirit fades as stress builds up. Then disillusionment kicks in. People lose their optimism and start to have negative or angry reactions, according to Kaye Hermanson, a psychologist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at University of California-Davis. “That’s about where we stand now as a society. Many people are exhausted by it all. Some are saying they don’t care if they get COVID-19. They’d rather risk getting sick than stay home or be careful. Others have simply stopped listening to health leaders and science,” she says. Hopefully knowing a little about why we have caution fatigue makes you feel a bit better. At least we know our response is due to the way our brain is wired. It is expected and normal. The next question is, “what can we do about it?” There are strategies to help us cope and get “over the hump.” I am sure you have heard these suggestions before, but they are worth repeating. We have to continually work on developing coping skills. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020

Hermanson recommends: • Exercise: It is the No. 1 best thing we can do for coping. Exercise releases endorphins and gets some of the adrenaline out when the frustration builds up. • Talking: “Just saying it Becky Comet out loud is important,” AAC Member Hermanson said. Find the Benefits Manager right places and times, but do it. Ignoring feelings does not make them go away. It is like trying to hold a beachball underwater — eventually you lose control, and it pops out. You cannot control where it goes or who it hits. Also, avoid talking to people as worried as you are; it may leave you in an echo chamber. • Constructive thinking: “We may think it is the situation that causes our feelings, but actually, our feelings come from our thoughts about the situation,” Hermanson says. We cannot change the situation, but we can adjust our thinking. Be compassionate with yourself and others. Remind yourself, “I’m doing the best I can.” • Mindfulness and gratitude: “The more you do this, the easier it gets,” suggests Hermanson. “Try being in the moment. You are right here, in this chair, breathing and looking around. We put ourselves through a lot of unnecessary misery projecting into the future or ruminating about the past. For now, just take life day by day.” Health experts have told us numerous times what we need to do to slow the spread of COVID-19: wash your hands often, social distance, and wear a mask. However, caution fatigue has made some people careless or angrily resistant about the guidelines. What can we do to convince people to do their part? It might be helpful to remind them they can help get back to normal by following the guidelines, which will help reduce the number of COVID-19 cases. Hermanson suggests role modeling and acts of kindness. It helps some people to see others wearing masks, washing their hands and social distancing. When you see people following guidelines, tell them thank you in a genuine way. Positive reinforcement can be powerful. But what can we do about people who are angrily resistant? Hermanson proposes, “I remind myself to control the things I can, and that I can’t control other people. I say to myself, ‘For every person not masking, look at all the people who are.’” Good advice in these difficult times. 23



On March 2, 1819, the U.S. Congress officially created the Arkansas Territory from land in the lower portion of the Missouri Territory. The first five counties of Arkansas were Arkansas, Lawrence, Clark, Hempstead, and Pulaski. This map, which does not show the outline of counties, was dated 1826. By the time Arkansas was admitted into the Union in 1836, it had 35 counties. — Photo courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection,

Weaving a rich tapestry In the years since the formation of Arkansas’ 75 counties, many — if not all — have undergone changes to their boundaries.


Story by Arik Cruz AAC Law Clerk

hough relatively small in area and population, Arkansas has always been rich in history. As many Arkansans know, the Natural State is currently divided into 75 counties — some large, some small. A few are nearly perfect rectangles, while many others are wildly irregular shapes. What is much lesser known is 24

exactly how these counties came to be in the first place. The development of Arkansas’ counties weaves a rich tapestry, both historically and legally speaking. In order to unravel it — as is the case with most things — one must start at the beginning. The history of Arkansas (for our present purposes) begins with the Louisiana Purchase, by which the United States acquired the territory of Louisiana from France in 1803. While the boundaries were not clearly defined, let alone explored, at the time, this is of no import here as they indubitably includCOUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020

AAC ed the entirety of present-day Arkansas. (Parry, 57:27-40; Van Zandt, 23-26). Shortly after, in 1804, this territory was divided further into two parts: the Territory of Orleans and the District of Louisiana. The latter of these contained present-day Arkansas and was temporarily under the administrative control of the pre-existing Indiana Territory. This subordination was remedied in 1805 when the District of Louisiana became the Territory of Louisiana (interchangeably referred to as the Louisiana Territory). The first official use of the name “Arkansas” came in 1806, when a southern portion of land within the Louisiana Territory was designated as the District of Arkansas. A year later, in 1806, the District of Arkansas (at times, also spelled “Arkansaw”) was organized from the southern portion of the Louisiana Territory. In 1812, an act of Congress renamed the Louisiana Territory as the Missouri Territory. A year later, Arkansas County was established by the territorial legislature as a county within the Missouri Territory. In 1815, Arkansas County was divided in order to form Lawrence County. In late 1818, acts were passed by the legislature of the Missouri Territory to establish three new counties — Clark, Hempstead, and Pulaski, each of which was carved from land in Arkansas County. By 1819, citizens within the District of Arkansas had already been working for a few years to organize an independent territorial government. On March 2, 1819, this desire became reality as an act of the U.S. Congress officially created the Arkansas Territory from land in the lower portion of the Missouri Territory. This new territory included all of present-day Arkansas and a portion of present-day Oklahoma. As one might surmise, this transformation gave rise to what many consider to be the first five counties of Arkansas: Arkansas, Lawrence, Clark, Hempstead, and Pulaski. With respect to the formation of counties, the laws of Arkansas Territory were largely silent, except where the ascertaining of boundary lines was concerned. Indeed, these laws vested a certain degree of power in “the court of common pleas or the county court of any county now established or hereafter to be established” (i.e., a circuit court, if a county had not yet been established) where the boundary line[s] were not sufficiently ascertained. In such instances, a court order was required to ascertain these boundaries based upon standard land surveying practices. Aside from this provision, the plenary power to establish a county itself resided with the territorial legislature. The next county to form in the newly established Arkansas Territory was Miller County, organized by an act of the Territorial Legislature in April 1820 and named for James Miller, Arkansas Territory’s first governor. Miller County included most of present-day Miller County, as well as multiple counties in present-day Texas and Oklahoma. Interestingly, Miller County was later abolished in 1838, primarily due to a dispute over its common border with the Republic of Texas, which had only recently seceded from the Republic of Mexico. Giv-


en that much of Miller County was effectively lost to Texas around this time, the county was subsequently dissolved, with the remaining territory being attached to Lafayette County. In 1845, Texas was annexed by the United States, which inherently settled the boundary between Texas and Arkansas. However, it would be nearly 30 years before Miller County was re-established in 1874. Later, in May 1820, Phillips County was created out of Arkansas County and named for Sylvannus Phillips, an early settler and member of the first territorial legislature. In October of 1820, Crawford County was established out of Pulaski County and named for William H. Crawford, then secretary of the treasury, while Independence County was created by dividing Lawrence County along the watershed between the Black and White river valleys. In the 15 years leading up to Arkansas’ admittance to the Union, another 26 counties were established by the legislature of Arkansas Territory, with one of these being permanently abolished shortly after its creation. This would bring the total number of counties in existence up to 35 at the beginning of 1836. The following is a chronological overview of this establishment process. • Chicot County, established Oct. 15, 1823, from Arkansas County and named for Point Chicot on the Mississippi River. • Conway County, established Oct. 20, 1825, out of Pulaski County and named for Henry Wharton Conway, a territorial delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives • Crittenden County, established Oct. 22, 1825, from Phillips County and named for Robert Crittenden, a governor of the former Arkansas Territory • Izard County, created Oct. 27, 1825, from Independence County. It was named for George Izard, a governor of the former Arkansas Territory and general during the War of 1812. • St. Francis County, established on Oct. 13, 1827, and formed from Phillips County. Named after the St. Francis River, which is a tributary of the Mississippi River. • Lovely County, established Oct. 13, 1827, and formed from the land gained from Lovely’s Purchase, which included a large part of the northwest corner of Arkansas Territory and extended west to the Indian Territory. It was abolished in 1828 after most of its land was ceded to Indian Territory as a result of treaties between the United States and the Cherokee Tribe. The largest part of what remained of the county was included in the creation of Washington County shortly thereafter. • Lafayette County, established Oct. 15, 1827, out of Hempstead County and named for Marquis de See


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• •

• • • •

• •

• • • •

Lafayette, a French ally of the United States in the Revolutionary War. Sevier County, created on Oct. 17, 1828, from Hempstead County and named after Ambrose Sevier, speaker of the Arkansas territorial House of Representatives and one of the state’s first two U.S. senators. Washington County, established Oct. 17, 1828, out of (now defunct) Lovely County and named for President George Washington. Hot Spring County, created on Nov. 2, 1829, from Clark County. It was named after the naturally occurring hot springs within the county, though the specific spring for which it was named is no longer within the county limits, having been subsumed by Garland County in 1873. Jefferson County, established on Nov, 2, 1829, from Arkansas and Pulaski counties and named after President Thomas Jefferson. Monroe County, established Nov. 2, 1829, out of Phillips and Arkansas counties and named for President James Monroe. Pope County, established Nov. 2, 1829, from Crawford County and named for John Pope, a governor of the former Arkansas Territory. Union County, established Nov. 2, 1829, out of Clark and Hempstead counties and named after the petition to form the county, which was given to the legislature in the Spirit of “Union and Unity.” Jackson County, established Nov. 5, 1829, from Independence County and named for President Andrew Jackson. Carroll County, created on Nov. 1, 1833, out of Izard County. Carrol County was named after Charles Carroll (of Carrollton), one of the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. Mississippi County, established Nov. 1, 1833, from Crittenden County and named after the Mississippi River, which forms its eastern boundary. Pike County, established Nov. 1, 1833, from Clark and Hempstead counties and named after Zebulon Pike, the explorer and discoverer of Pikes Peak in Colorado. Greene County, created on Nov. 5, 1833, out of Lawrence County and named for Nathanael Greene, a general in the Revolutionary War. Scott County, established Nov. 5, 1833, from Crawford and Pope counties. It was named after Andrew Scott, a judge of the Superior Court of Arkansas Territory and a delegate to the state Constitutional Convention of 1836. Van Buren County, established Nov. 11, 1833, from portions of Conway, Izard, and Independence counties


Continued From Page 25


The first elected Governor of Arkansas was James Conway. The city of Conway, but not the county of Conway, is named after him. — Photo from the Old State House website. and named after President Martin Van Buren. • Johnson County, created on Nov. 16, 1833, out of Pope County. Johnson County was named for Benjamin Johnson (1784–1849), a territorial judge. • White County, established Oct. 23, 1835, from Independence, Jackson and Pulaski counties and named after Hugh Lawson White, a U.S. Senator from Tennessee and Whig Party presidential candidate in 1836. • Randolph County, established Oct. 29, 1835, out of Lawrence County. It was named for John Randolph, a U.S. congressman from Virginia. • Saline County, created Nov. 2, 1835, from Independence and Pulaski counties and named after salt works found within its borders and that supplied salt to all of Arkansas and shipped salt to Tennessee, Louisiana, and east Texas. • Marion County, established Nov. 3, 1835, out of Izard County and named for Revolutionary War General Francis Marion. On June 15, 1836, the Territory of Arkansas entered the union as the 25th state, thus becoming the State of ArkanCOUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020

AAC sas. James Conway (after whom the city of Conway, but not the county of Conway, is named) was subsequently elected to be the state’s first governor. In the months leading up to statehood, Arkansas’ constitutional convention had drafted a document to qualify Arkansas for admission to the Union. This would become Arkansas’ first constitution. Unsurprisingly, this first constitution was brief (only four pages, front and back), flexible, general in language, and relatively lenient in terms of power. Much like the laws of Arkansas Territory had been, Arkansas’ first constitution was effectively silent on the issue of county establishment, except that no county then established “could be reduced by the establishment of any new county to less than 900 square miles,” nor be reduced to a lesser population than its ratio of representation in the House of Representatives, nor could any county be established that contained less than 900 square miles (with the exception of Washington County, which could be reduced to 600 square miles) or a less population than would entitle a county to a member in the House of Representatives. Before Arkansas’ secession from the United States and subsequent admission to the Confederate States of America, another 22 counties were established by the Arkansas Legislature. Thus, by the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, Arkansas was divided into 56 counties (since Miller County had not yet been re-established). The following counties were created between 1836 and 1859. • Benton County, established on Sept. 30, 1836, from Washington County and named after Thomas Benton, a U.S. senator from Missouri. • Madison County, created on Sept. 30, 1836, from Washington County and named after President James Madison. • Franklin County, established Dec. 19, 1837 out of Crawford and Johnson counties and named for Benjamin Franklin. • Poinsett County, created Feb. 28, 1838, out of Greene and St. Francis counties and named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, a U.S. secretary of war (and namesake of the poinsettia). • Desha County, established Dec. 12, 1838, from Arkansas and Chicot counties, and named for Captain Benjamin Desha, a hero in the War of 1812. • Searcy County, created Dec. 13, 1838, out of Marion County and named for Richard Searcy, a prominent civil servant, major landowner, and circuit court judge. • Yell County, established Dec. 5, 1840, from Pope and Scott counties and named for Archibald Yell, the second governor of Arkansas. • Bradley County, created on Dec. 18, 1840, out of Union County and named for Hugh Bradley, a soldier in the War of 1812 and a prominent area settler. • Perry County, established Dec. 18, 1840, from Conway County and named after Commodore Oliver Perry, a COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020


naval officer in the War of 1812. • Ouachita County, created in Nov. 29, 1842, out of Union County and named after the Ouachita River. • Montgomery County, established Dec. 9, 1842, from Hot Spring County and named after Richard Montgomery, a general during the Revolutionary War. • Newton County, created on Dec. 14, 1842, out of Carroll County and named for Thomas Newton, a state senator, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and U.S. Marshal. • Fulton County, established Dec. 21, 1842, from Izard County and named for William S. Fulton, the last governor of the Arkansas Territory. • Polk County, created on Nov. 30, 1844, out of Sevier County and named for President James Polk. • Dallas County, established Jan. 1, 1845, from Clark and Bradley counties and named after George Dallas, the 11th vice president of the United States. • Prairie County, created Oct. 25, 1846, out of Monroe and Pulaski counties and named after the area’s dominant characteristic, the Grand Prairie of eastern Arkansas. • Drew County, established Nov.26, 1846, from Arkansas and Bradley counties and named for Thomas Stevenson Drew, the third governor of Arkansas. • Ashley County, created Nov. 30, 1848, out of Chicot, Drew, and Union counties and named after Chester Ashley, a U.S. senator and otherwise prominent Arkansan. • Calhoun County, established Dec. 6, 1850, from Dallas and Ouachita counties and named for John C. Calhoun, the seventh vice president of the United States. • Sebastian County, created on Jan. 6, 1851, out of Crawford, Polk, Van Buren, and Scott counties. It was named for William K. Sebastian, a judge, state senator and U.S. senator from Arkansas. • Columbia County, established Dec. 17, 1852, from Lafayette, Hempstead, and Ouachita counties and named after the fictitious Columbia, a female personification of the United States. • Craighead County, created Feb. 19, 1859, out of Greene, Mississippi, and Poinsett counties and named after Thomas H. Craighead, who represented Mississippi and Crittenden counties in the state legislature. Only two Arkansas counties have the unique distinction of having been established during the Civil War, each of which was created in 1862. Cross County was created on Nov. 15, 1862, out of St. Francis, Poinsett, and Crittenden counties and named for Col. David C. Cross, a Confederate soldier and prominent politician. Shortly thereafter, on Nov. 26, See


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Tapestry 1862, Woodruff County was established from parts of Arkansas and Lawrence counties. It was named in honor of William Woodruff, editor and publisher of the Arkansas Gazette, the first newspaper in Arkansas. While each of these counties was created under the auspices of a new constitution (something that was necessary as the state left the Union), there were very few substantive changes made to that constitution aside from replacing references to the United States of America with references to the Confederate States of America. As such, county formation remained implicitly in the hands of the legislature. By 1864, Arkansas’ third constitution was written under the terms of the U.S. government’s plan for wartime reconstruction, intended to hasten the reestablishment of loyal state governments in the Southern United States. Ratified on March 14, 1864, this new constitution provided for a Unionist state government, in spite of the fact that a Confederate one — though significantly weakened — continued to exist. While a couple of drastic changes were included in the 1864 constitution — abolishment of slavery and repudiation of secession, for example — it did not change the approach taken with respect to the establishment of counties, except that minimum county size was reduced from not less than 900 square miles in the original constitution to not less than 600 square miles. The population size requirement tied to representation in the House remained unchanged. Only one county was formed by the General Assembly under this constitution. Indeed, Little River County was established on March 5, 1867, out of Sevier and Hempstead counties and named for the Little River, a tributary of the Red River, which serves as the county’s northern and eastern boundaries. A mere four years after the adoption of its third constitution, Arkansas re-entered the Union and a fourth constitution was ratified on March 13, 1868, in order to begin the Reconstruction Era under the terms of the Reconstruction Acts of 1867. This constitution made racial discrimination illegal, provided support for both lower and higher public education, and fixed legislative apportionments to favor counties with large African-American populations. Moreover, the 1868 constitution also significantly enhanced the power of the state government and broadened the powers of the governor. Nonetheless, still no express provisions were written with respect to the establishment of counties, aside from the now commonplace requirement that no county then established should ever be reduced by the establishment of any new county to less than 600 square miles, nor could any county established thereafter contain less than 600 square miles. The population requirement contained in each previous constitution, however, was conspicuously absent. All but two of Arkansas’ final 17 counties were formed under this constitution. By the end of 1873, 28

Continued From Page 27


Arkansas was divided into 73 counties. • Sharp County, established July 18, 1868, out of Lawrence County and named after Ephraim Sharp, an early settler and state legislator from Lawrence County. • Grant County, created on Feb. 4, 1869, from portions of Jefferson, Hot Spring, and Saline counties and named for General (later President) Ulysses S. Grant. • Boone County, established April 9, 1869, out of Carroll and Marion counties and named for frontiersman Daniel Boone. • Nevada County, created March 20, 1871, from Columbia, Hempstead, and Ouachita counties and named after the state of Nevada, which has a similar outline to the county’s boundaries. • Logan County, established March 22, 1871, out of Franklin, Johnson, Scott, and Yell counties. Logan County was originally named Sarber County, after the state senator who proposed the county’s creation to the legislature. However, the legislature later changed the name to Logan County in honor of James Logan, an early settler in the area on Dec. 14, 1875. • Lincoln County, created March 28, 1871, from Arkansas, Bradley, Desha, Drew, and Jefferson counties and named after President Abraham Lincoln. • Baxter County, established March 24, 1873, out of Fulton, Izard, Marion, and Searcy counties and named for (and by) Elisha Baxter, then governor of Arkansas. Notably, Baxter County was created as a result of Governor Baxter himself introducing legislation to the General Assembly on a day on which most of the legislature was not present, thus those representing the counties that ultimately lost land to Baxter County could not vote against the bill. • Clay County, created March 24, 1873, from Randolph and Greene counties. It was originally named Clayton County after John Clayton, a state senator, but was changed in 1875 to Clay County in honor of Secretary of State Henry Clay due to a resentment held by citizens in the area against John Clayton’s brother, Powell, who had been the first Reconstructionist governor of Arkansas. • Garland County, established April 5, 1873, out of portions of Hot Spring, Montgomery, Saline, and Clark counties and named for Augustus Hill Garland who served as governor in 1874, U.S. senator from 1876 to 1885, and U.S. attorney general in 1885. • Faulkner County, created on April 12, 1873, from Conway and Pulaski counties and named for Colonel Sanford C. Faulkner a Confederate soldier and the composer of the song “The Arkansas Traveler.” COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020



• Lonoke County, established April 16, 1873, out of Prai- had. Accordingly, no county then established could be rerie and Pulaski counties and named by a railroad sur- duced to an area of less than 600 square miles, nor to less than veyor who used a massive red oak tree as a landmark. 5,000 inhabitants, nor could any new county be established • Cleveland County, created April 17, 1873, from Brad- with an area of less than 600 square miles and population of ley, Dallas, Jefferson, and Lincoln counties. It was origi- less than 5,000 inhabitants (though this provision did not apnally named Dorsey County after U.S. Senator Stephen ply to Lafayette, Pope, and Johnson counties). In addition, Dorsey, but the name was changed to honor President this constitution provided that no part of a county could be Grover Cleveland in 1885. taken off to form a new county, or a part thereof, without the • Howard County, established April 17, 1873, out of consent of a majority of the voters living in the part proposed Hempstead, Pike, Polk, and Sevier counties and named to be taken off. Subsequent legal decisions have clarified, howafter James H. Howard, a state senator. ever, that such majority consent is not required for the General • Lee County, created on April 17, 1873, from Crittenden, Assembly merely to move or change already extant boundary Monroe, Phillips, St. Francis and named for Confeder- lines. The 1874 constitution also required that county seats be ate General Robert E. Lee. established or changed only with the consent of a majority of • Stone County, established April 21, 1873, out of parts the qualified voters of the county to be affected, though newly of Izard, Independence, Searcy, and Van Buren counties formed counties were allowed to temporarily locate the county and named for the rugged, rocky terrain of the area. seat during the formation process. Near the end of Reconstruction, on Oct. 13, 1874, a fifth These provisions remain unchanged to this day, as may and final (i.e., current) constitution was adopted. This itera- be seen upon reading Article XIII of the Arkansas Constition of the constitution. Arkansas’ tution was written final two counwith the goal of ties, including the more adequately re-establishment he 1874 constitution reflected a general suspicion of govprotecting the of Miller County, people of the state were created under ernment and authority and incorporated more changes from the governthis final iteration than any of the previous constitutions ever had. As we see remment itself by sigof the state’s connificantly limiting stitution. Indeed, nants of that today, county governments became extremely powits powers. Indeed, Miller County was many Arkansans recreated by the Arerful, functioning as quasi-independent administrative units of were distrustful of kansas General Asthe government sembly from a porthe state with jurisdiction over roads and bridges, the local judiafter having been tion of Lafayette forced through a County on Dec. ciary, and taxation, as well as spending. litany of changes 22, 1874, and to the political Cleburne County paradigm over its was established relatively short hison Feb. 20, 1883, tory as a state. Thus, the 1874 constitution reflected a general from Independence, Van Buren, and White counties and was suspicion of government and authority and incorporated more named after General Patrick Cleburne, who served in the changes than any of the previous constitutions ever had. As Confederate army. we see remnants of that today, county governments became In the years since the formation of Arkansas’ 75 counties, extremely powerful, functioning as quasi-independent ad- many — if not all — have undergone changes to their boundministrative units of the state with jurisdiction over roads and aries. Given the relatively low amount of guidance on county bridges, the local judiciary, and taxation, as well as spending. formation and alteration given by the Arkansas Constitution, Additionally, the number of constitutionally mandated county it should come as no surprise that the legislature has passed offices grew fivefold (from two to 10), and the powers of the additional guidance on this topic. Arkansas Code Annotated governor were greatly reduced at the time. As a general con- § 14-14-101 et seq. provides the law in this area. Much of the cept, it is more than fair to say that a great deal of authority first section of this subchapter is merely a codification of Arwas transferred from state to local government. ticle XIII of the state constitution. It also makes clear that “the With respect to county formation, the 1874 constitution See “TAPESTRY” on Page 30 > > > provided quite a bit more guidance than previous iterations







Continued From Page 29

power to change county boundaries is inherent in the General Assembly, subject to express constitutional restrictions.” The remainder of the subchapter goes on to provide that changes to county boundaries may be initiated by the General Assembly or by a petition to the legislature by persons whose rights and interests would be affected by the boundary change. (A.C.A. § 14-14-102). To be taken under consideration by the legislature, such a petition is required to be signed by not less than 15 percent of the voters residing in the area(s) to be affected by the proposed boundary change. A petition to form an entirely new county must be preceded by an election on the issue and consent by the majority of the voters in the part proposed to be taken off. (A.C.A. § 14-14-103). Petitions must be accompanied by the following documentation: A survey of the proposed boundary alterations (except where common boundaries are being dissolved) performed by a professional surveyor, and a map drawn to scale of the area to be affected by the petition. These provisions allow the General Assembly and the citizens that it serves to work in tandem to ensure that counties are able to properly provide services in as efficient a manner as possible. In the years going forward, it is a relative certainty that Arkansans, whether directly or through their political representatives, will utilize the provisions of the Arkansas Constitution and the Arkansas Code to weave further detail into the tapestry that depicts the history of Arkansas’ many great counties.   Sources: Ark. Code Ann. §§ 14-14-201 through 206 (2020). Ark. Const. Art. 13, §§ 1-4. Ark. Const. Art. 7, § 28. Arkansas Constitutions Collection, The Arkansas Digital Ark-ives, Arkansas State Archives, landingpage/collection/p16790coll1 (last visited June 1, 2020). Arkansas History Timeline: 1800s, Arkansas Secretary of State, (last visited June 1, 2020). Arkansas Maps, Pine Bluff — Jefferson County Library System, digital-collections/map-collection/arkansas-maps (last visited June 1, 2020).


Atlas of Historical County Boundaries — Arkansas, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project, The Newberry Library Center for American History and Culturehttps:// (last visited June 1, 2020). Berry, Trey J., Hunter-Dunbar Expedition, Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Central Arkansas Library System, (last visited June 1, 2020). Bolton, S. Charles, Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood — 1803 through 1860, Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Central Arkansas Library System, https://encyclopediaofarkansas. net/entries/louisiana-purchase-through-early-statehood1803-through-1860-398/ (last visited June 1, 2020). Capace, Nancy, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas (1998). Connor, Seymour V., Miller County, Arkansas, The Handbook of Texas Online — Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), hcm91 (last visited June 1, 2020). Entries — Entry Category: Counties, Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Central Arkansas Library System, (last visited June 1, 2020). Goss, Kay C., Arkansas Constitutions, Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Central Arkansas Library System, (last visited June 2, 2020). J. Steele, Compiler; M’Campbell, J., Compiler. Laws of the Arkansas Territory (1835). Kilpatrick, Judith and Samantha Fields, Law, Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Central Arkansas Library System, (last visited June 1, 2020). Pulaski County v. County Judge of Saline County, 37 Ark. 339 (1881). Reynolds v. Holland, 35 Ark. 56, 59 (1879). Territorial Arkansas Collection, The Arkansas Digital Arkives, Arkansas State Archives, landingpage/collection/p16790coll6 (last visited June 1, 2020). Williams, Patrick G., Politics and Government, Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Central Arkansas Library System, https:// (last visited June 1, 2020).

75 Counties - One Voice




It’s The People’s Transportation System –

On November 3, 2020, The People Get To Decide Arkansas’ roadways are one of the public’s largest and most important investments. As a transportation system stakeholder, we ask that you help ARDOT educate the public about what would happen if “Issue One” passes or fails. Please visit for information and resources.





Left: Sandra Cawyer served as Columbia County assessor for nine years before accepting in July the director’s position at the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Division, which is part of the state Department of Finance and Administration. Above: AAC Board President Debbie Wise and AAC Executive Director Chris Villines present Cawyer with a Diamond Award in recognition of her service on the AAC Board of Directors.

Former assessor named director of ACD Cawyer brings more than 20 years to the division.

Press Release by Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration


rkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) Secretary Larry Walther today announced Sandra Cawyer has joined DFA as Director of the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Division (ACD). Prior to joining DFA, Cawyer served as Columbia County Assessor for nine years. She replaces Bear Chaney, who recently retired. ACD works closely with county assessors to promote and oversee fair, equitable and uniform property tax treatment for all taxpayers, local government officials, and school districts across the state. “Sandra has the experience and relationships needed to understand the role property taxes play in Arkansas, and I am excited to have her leadership and perspective at DFA,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. Cawyer began her career in county government in 1999. During her career, she has completed more than 200 hours of appraisal classes and has been awarded with the designation of 32

Senior Appraiser from the State of Arkansas. “I am very impressed with Sandra’s positive leadership style and technical knowledge,” said Secretary Walther. “She will continue the great work of ACD while focusing on customer service and county outreach.” She was named Assessor of the year in Arkansas in 2015. In 2017 she received the Kenneth Eddy Memorial Award from the Assessor’s Association and a Career Achievement Award from South Arkansas Women’s Network. Cawyer serves on the Executive Board of the Arkansas Assessor’s Association. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Arkansas Counties. “While Arkansans may associate DFA with our Revenue Offices, ACD also has an impact on millions of Arkansans each year,” said DFA Commissioner of Revenue Charlie Collins. “Accurate assessments ensure school districts throughout the state are properly funded. If assessments are inaccurate and inconsistent, school districts feel the consequences. Sandra understands this and brings a thorough understanding and knowledge of the process to ACD.” COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020



Dana Baker

Pope County assessor brings 19 years of experience to AAC Board of Directors.


ope County Assessor Dana Baker knows the ins and outs of serving in a county government office, and she’s ready to use that knowledge in a new capacity on the AAC Board of Directors. Baker, who replaces former AAC Board member and Columbia County Assessor Sandra Cawyer, worked in the Pope County courthouse for 19 years — seven years in the circuit clerk’s office and seven in the assessor’s office — before she was elected assessor in 2012. She began her first term in January 2013. Baker is a life-long resident of Atkins in Pope County and is well acquainted with the county’s natural beauty. She enjoys taking weekend Jeep rides, wading and swimming in its creeks, and fishing in Lake Atkins. Baker has deep family roots in Atkins. Her “unique family,” including her parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, live within 15 miles of each other. “You mess with one of us, you get the wrath of us,” she joked. Baker has been married 25 years to her husband, Rodney, and has seven children. The couple also has spent about 20 years as foster parents to many children in Pope County. Baker is the daughter of Oscar and Linda Freeman, who recently celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary. She looks to them as a couple who takes pride in an honest day’s work. “My dad is the hardest working man I have ever met,” she said. He retired as a welding/shop maintenance foreman from Bibler Lumber Co. about 15 years ago, and now at

79, helps maintain Baker’s rental properties. He takes on any project she asks of him, Baker said. Baker has applied her parents’ lessons to her position serving Pope County. As assessor, she takes pride in helping taxpayers understand the process of assessing and taxes. “I have learned one of the biggest obstacles is to get the taxpayer to fully understand from start to finish, valuing their property,” she said. “On most occasions, they may not be completely happy about what they have learned, but they will leave with a smile on their face.” Showing residents that she understands their concerns is paramount to working in the assessor’s office. “My coworkers and I try to go above and beyond to make our customers feel welcome and comfortable to ask any questions they may have,” she said. “We share our knowledge and understanding to handle each need.” Baker has been recognized for her exemplary work in county government. She is the recipient of the 2019 Kenneth Eddy Memorial Award, and the Arkansas Chapter of the International Association of Assessing Officers 2019 Assessor of the Year Award. She has served her community and her fellow assessors in other capacities, including five years as Atkins Planning Commission Chairman, and four years as Arkansas County


Assessor’s Association board member and two years as association president. As a new member of the AAC board, Baker is eager to address issues impacting her fellow assessors, as well as other county and district officials. “I am looking forward to serving on the AAC Board,” she said. “Not only working with the fine elected officials currently serving, but being able to add my wealth of knowledge and experience to the pool of knowledge of my peers currently serving. I feel this board is the voice for each association and serving is a commitment to your association that you have their best interest at heart.” Baker hopes to focus on areas that are impacting the future of local government and the citizens of Arkansas. “We serve in an everchanging world,” she said. “Therefore, staying on the front end of technology, community interests, public welfare, and unification — finding common ground upon which to build — is not only important, but vital to me.” 33



AAC names 2020 scholarship recipients

Students will study elementary education, nursing, psychology, and more.


he Association of Arkansas Counties has announced its 2019 AAC Scholarship Trust recipients. AAC established the trust in 1985 to provide college financial assistance to the children, stepchildren and grandchildren of Arkansas county and district officials and employees. AAC has since awarded nearly a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships. Along with the AAC, the following county associations contributed to the scholarship trust in 2020: the County Judges Association of Arkansas, the Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association, the Arkansas County Treasurers Association, the Arkansas Association of Clerks, Arkansas Coroners Association, Arkansas Association of Quorum Courts, Arkansas Sheriffs Association, Arkansas County Tax Collectors Association and the Arkansas County Assessors Association.

Ashton Kyzer

Ashton Kyzer — Ashton is a 2020 graduate of Bryant High School. Her mother, Ragan Kyzer, works in the Saline County Circuit Clerk’s office. Ashton plans to attend the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and study nursing.

Alexis McClaren

Alexis McClaren — Alexis is a 2020 graduate of Wonderview High School in Hattieville and the granddaughter of Yolanda Atkinson, who is employed in the Conway County Sheriff’s Office. She plans to attend Central Baptist College in Conway and work toward a degree in psychology.

Lindsey Logan Cecilia Doss

Cecilia Doss — Cecilia is a 2020 graduate of Berryville High School and the daughter of Carroll County Clerk Connie Doss. She plans to attend Benedictine College in Atchinson, Kan. She will seek a degree in psychology. 34

Emily Magar

Lindsey Logan — Lindsey is a student at the University of Arkansas in Fort Smith and working toward a degree in elementary education. She is the daughter of Laura Kiersey, an employee in the Polk County Tax Collector’s office. She was the recipient of the 2019 Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship.

Emily Magar — Emily, a 2020 graduate of Harrison High School, is the daughter of Stephanie Magar, who works in the Boone County Collector’s office. Emily plans to attend the College of the Ozarks in Hollister, Mo., and pursue a degree in social work. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020


Mary-Grace Ree

Brooklyn Waller

Mary-Grace Ree — Mary-Grace is a 2020 graduate of Ozark High School and the daughter of Franklin County Justice of the Peace Freddy Ree. MaryGrace plans to attend Arkansas Tech University in Ozark and pursue a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.


Brianna Nipper — Brianna is the recipient of the Matt Morris Scholarship. Brianna is a 2020 graduate of Columbia Christian School in Magnolia and the daughter of Stephanie Brown, who works in the Columbia County Circuit Clerk’s office. Brianna will attend Southern Arkansas University to study physical education. She will seek a degree in kinesiology. The Matt Morris scholarship was established following the death in 1999 of Matt Morris, son of former Searcy Mayor David Morris, who is a former AAC employee. Matt was an Arkansas Razorback baseball recruit. The scholarship is funded by donations made in Matt’s name and by the County Judges Association. It is awarded each year to an applicant who reminds the scholarship committee of Matt, either through their sports involvement or by helping others.

Noah Worley

Noah Worley — Noah is the grandson of retired Bradley County Circuit Clerk Catherine Lee Richardson, who served for 20 years. He is a senior at Ouachita Baptist University, where he is studying biology/kinesiology. Jessica Seymore

Jacob Reynolds

Jessica Seymore — Jessica, a 2020 graduate of El Dorado High School, is the daughter of Anita Seymore, an employee in the Union County Judges’ Office. Jessica plans to attend the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and study biology.

Jacob Reynolds— Jacob is the recipient of the Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship. He is a 2020 graduate of Bryant High School and is the grandson of retired Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Vera Reynolds. Jacob plans to attend Arkansas State University to study mass communications. Randy Kemp was the first AAC Communications Director, serving from July 2008 until his death in August 2011. The scholarship is funded exclusively by the annual Randy Kemp Golf Tournament.

Brooklyn Waller — Brooklyn, a 2020 graduate of Bryant High School, is the daughter of Angela Drummond, wh works in the Saline County Judge’s Office. She will attend the University of Arkansas and study nursing. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020

Brianna Nipper




Left: AAC Executive Director Chris Villines, Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder and his wife, Holly, and AAC Board President Debbie Wise pose for a photo. Above: Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder was honored with the Fowler Award.


Washington County Sheriff receives 2020 Wes Fowler Advocacy Award

he AAC awarded the 2020 Wes Fowler Advocacy Award to Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder during the August meeting of the Arkansas Sheriffs Association (ASA). The award, established in 2017 following the death of longtime Madison County Clerk and Judge Wes Fowler, recognizes a county or district official who best embodies Fowler’s dedication to local government and demonstrates “tireless work in boldly advocating for the counties of Arkansas.” Helder graduated from West Fork High School in 1976 and continues to reside in West Fork with his wife Holly. They have three children and five grandchildren. Helder began his law enforcement career in 1979 as a dispatcher with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. He later attended the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy (ALETA) and continued to work for the Sheriff’s Office as a field deputy. In 1982, Helder was hired as a patrolman by the Fayetteville Police Department, where he remained for 21 years, working his way up to deputy chief. During his years of law enforcement, Sheriff Helder has attended some of the most prestigious training available, including a 10-week training course for police administrators from across the globe at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 36

National Academy. Along with the training he has been provided opportunities to develop and manage programs such as the Drug Task Force, Bike Patrol, Office of Professional Standards and Physical Fitness for law enforcement. In 2003, Helder returned to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office as chief deputy. He was elected sheriff in 2004 and is the longest serving sheriff in the history of Washington County. Helder is past president of the ASA and past chair of the Washington Regional Hospital Board of Directors. He also is a past chair of the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force and currently serves on the Board of Directors, which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Northwest Florida and Memphis, Tennessee. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has appointed Helder to serveral boards and commissions, inlcuding the Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force, the purpose of which was to reduce prison overcrowding through sentencing and parole reforms. In 2017, Helder was appointed to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory Board. The appointment will expire in January 2024. In 2018 the Governor appointed Helder to the School Safety Commission, which evaluates school designs, safety and security policies, emergency plans and policies, school counseling, and mental health issues. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020



AEDC Division of Rural Services awards $317,500 in community grants Twenty-eight counties and communities receive monies. Press Release by Division of Rural Services Arkansas Economic Development Commission


he Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) Division of Rural Services has awarded community grants totaling more than $317,500 to 39 counties and communities across the state. The Division of Rural Services originally intended to present these awards at the 2020 Arkansas Rural Development Conference scheduled to take place in Jonesboro [in May]. After careful consideration, AEDC canceled the annual conference due to restrictions and concerns caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. “Although the it was a difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Arkansas Rural Development Conference, we are pleased to continue supporting our program participants by awarding grants totaling more than $317,500 to rural communities across the state,” Department of Commerce Secretary Mike Preston said. The Division of Rural Services awarded Arkansas counties and communities a total of $317,571.78 through two grant programs: the Rural Community Grant Program and the County Fair Building Grant Program. Twenty-eight counties and communities received a total of $276,379.56 through the Rural Community Grant program. Under this program, applicants from incorporated towns of less than 3,000 in population and unincorporated rural areas are eligible for up to $15,000 in matching funds for community development and fire protection projects. The Division of Rural Services awarded 11 counties a total of $41,192.22 through the County Fair Building Grant Program. Under this program, county fairs located in counties with a population of less than 55,000 are eligible for up to $4,000 for construction, renovation or general improvements of buildings or purchase of items shown to directly improve the building or the services that the county fair association may provide. Both the Rural Community Grant Program and the County Fair Building Grant Program require a 50 percent match for counties and communities to qualify. The next cycle deadline for the Rural Community Grant Program and County Fair Building Grant Program begins Aug. 6, 2020. For more information about grants administered by AEDC, visit COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020

Rural Community Grant Recipients • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Antioch Fire Department — $15,000 Barnes Rural Volunteer Fire Department — $4,877.50 Brookland — $15,000 Brown Grove Volunteer Fire Department — $7,500 Columbia County — $15,000 Cotter-Gassville Rural Fire Protection District — $12,993.34 DeGray Volunteer Fire Department — $1,628.50 Dutch Creek Volunteer Fire Department — $4,000 Elkins — $15,000 Gilbert — $9,000 Highland — $4,918 Hindsville — $10,000 Holiday Island — $15,000 Hunter Fire Department — $3,254.03 Hwy 35 South Volunteer Fire Department — $10,530 Lavaca Fire Department — $15,000 Leachville — $15,000 Lockesburg — $14,250 Maddox Bay Volunteer Fire Department — $3,975 Marion County — $2,000 Oak Grove — $15,000 Peppers Lake Volunteer Fire Department — $7,750.98 Scott Fire Protection District — $14,961.80 Star City — $7,072 Thornton — $14,400 Tyronza — $9,680 Western Greene County Fire District — $7,838.41 Winthrop — $5,750 County Fair Building Grant Recipients: Baxter County Fair Association — $4,000 Calhoun County Fair Association — $4,000 Carroll County Fair Association — $4,000 Clark County Fair Association — $2,695.62 North Franklin County Fair Association — $4,000 Fulton County Fair Association, Inc. — $4,000 Howard County Fair Association — $4,000 Johnson County Fair Association — $2,496.60 Sharp County Fair Association — $4,000 Van Buren County Fair — $4,000 Yell County Fair Association — $4,000 37



County priorities at play in 2021 White House budget Story by Eryn Hurley NACo Associate Legislator Director — Finance, Pensions and Intergovernmental Affairs


he White House unveiled its $4.8 trillion Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget proposal Feb. 10, which includes many provisions that would affect counties, if adopted by Congress. Each year, the president and his administration are responsible for providing Congress with an outline and request for appropriation for each department and agency in the executive branch. Though the president’s budget is not signed into law, it provides insight on the administration’s policies and priorities for the next fiscal year and is the opening move in the annual appropriations process. This year, the budget proposal follows Congress passing and the president signing a $2.7 trillion budget agreement in August 2019, which raised federal spending caps for both FY 2020 and FY 2021 by nearly $320 billion over the next two years. Notably, the president’s budget adheres to the defense spending caps, but proposes spending for non-discretionary programs below the funding levels set in the August budget deal. The budget outlines FY 2021 discretionary spending at $1.34 trillion and mandatory spending at $3 trillion. Of note for counties, the FY 2021 budget proposes to significantly reduce federal contribution to the federal-state-local intergovernmental partnership by limiting numerous state and local grant and aid programs. The budget proposes to move much of the responsibility for many of the programs currently and historically funded by federal grants down to state and local governments including transportation infrastructure, workforce initiatives, economic development and health care. Combined, these changes would increase the fiscal burden carried by state and local governments who may be unable to adequately fill the gap left by a lack of federal resources. Similar to last year’s budget request, to achieve the goal of reducing federal aid to state and local governments, the White House proposes the “Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal: Results-Oriented Accountability for Grants.” The CAP proposal aims to ensure that federal grants are administered in the most efficient and effective way by using a risk-based

We want your news 38

and data-driven framework for grant awards to target grants to those areas that are most in need. Overall, the proposed budget is a mixed bag for counties. On the positive side, the budget proposes to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of many federal programs that counties use. The budget also proposes to increase and direct new funding at key county priorities including: • $12 billion in formula funding for off-system bridges in FY 2021 and $810 billion over ten years to reauthorize surface transportation programs • Regulatory changes that would amend the burdensome Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy to prevent termination of federal health benefits for juveniles and pre-trial inmates for six months • $680 million in grants that expand and improve career and technical education in high schools • $1 billion for wildland fire management activities • Increased investments for opioid prevention, treatment and recovery services However, the budget also targets key federal programs important to county governments for cuts and even eliminations. Some of these include: • Eliminating the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program and the Economic Development Administration • A $1.3 trillion cut to Medicaid, which would shift health care costs to counties • Eliminating the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, currently funded at $244 million • Institute universal work requirements for federal public assistance programs that would increase administrative costs for counties • A $57 million decrease in rural broadband infrastructure pilot program NACo’s Government Affairs department is analyzing the budget proposal, comparing it to FY2020 congressional funding.

Did an aspect of county government “make news” recently in your county? Did any of your county officials or staff get an award, appointment or pat on the back? Please let us know about it for the next edition of County Lines magazine. You can write up a couple of paragraphs about it, or if something ran in your local paper, call and ask them to forward the story to us. We encourage you or your newspaper to attach a good quality photo, too: e-mail COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020

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County judges

Physicially distanced, but not disconnected County associations find alternative ways to conduct business during pandemic.


ummer is a time for Arkansas’ county associations to gather to discuss timely topics. The 2020 summer was going to be like all the others before it. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. County offices were shaken. But, it didn’t take long for them to recalibrate. In August, Association of Arkansas Counties partnered with the Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association, Arkansas County Treasurers Asso-

County clerks

County clerks

Arkansas Association of County Clerks President Deanna Sivley


ciation, Arkansas Association of County Clerks, County Judges Association of Arkansas , Arkansas Coroners Association, Arkansas Association of Quorum Courts, Arkansas Sheriffs Association, Arkansas County Tax Collectors Association and Arkansas County Assessors Association to hold summer meetings both in person and via virtual platforms so officials could receive their continuing education and reconnect with their county government network.

County clerks




Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton is sworn in as Arkansas Sheriffs Association President.

Justices of the Peace

County treasurers

Arkansas Sheriffs Association (ASA) Immediate Past President and Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown and ASA Executive Director Scott Bradley.

Faulkner County Sheriff Tim Ryals, Saline County Sheriff Rodney Wright, Pope County Sheriff Shane Jones, Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley, Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe, Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd and Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook are sworn in to serve on the ASA Executive Board.

Tax collectors

Arkansas County Tax Collectors Association President Ellen Foote.


Tax collectors




Education: I graduated from Texas Christian University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology. I am currently pursuing a juris doctorate at William H. Bowen School of Law and a masters in public service at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Family information: I am from Saginaw, Texas, and grew up in the Fort Worth area. I am from a military family, so they are from a lot of different places. My favorite meal: Authentic tacos with queso and salsa.

Award and Change Agent award from Texas Christian University for fighting for the causes I believe in. At the top of my bucket list is to: Honeymoon in Greece. The hardest thing I have ever done is: Maintain a social life during law school. You might be surpised to learn that: I was sorted into Gryffindor (Harry Potter).

Dylan Lofton

When I’m not working I’m: Fishing or watching Liverpool F.C. The accomplishments of which I am most proud: I am most proud of receiving the Pillar of University Leadership

My pet peeve is: Loud people in the law library. How long have you been at the AAC, and what are you working on? I started at AAC in May 2020. I have been working in the litigation department as a litigation clerk this summer. In fall and spring, I will be working as a policy clerk in the policy department. I am currently drafting statements of indisputable material facts and other documents in court.

LAW CLERK — DOROTHY SPECTOR Education: I went to college at Boston University, where I received my degree in political science. I am now a JD/ MPS concurrent degree student at the William H. Bowen School of Law and the Clinton School of Public Service where I will receive my masters in public service.

Doroth y Spect or

When I’m not working I’m: Preparing to bring home my new Beagle puppy Jagger. He is about five weeks old and still with his litter. 42

At the top of my bucket list is to: Explore Greece. The hardest thing I have ever done is: Nursing my cat from home when she was passing away.

Family information: I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. My dad is a Miami native, and my mom is from South America. They met when my mom was transferred from New York to Miami for her job. My favorite meal: Argentian empanadas.

The accomplishments of which I am most proud: Graduting from Boston University in three years with a degree in political science.

You might be surpised to learn that: The Harry Potter sorting hat quiz put me in Slytherin House. My pet peeve is: Clutter. How long have you been at the AAC, and what projects are you working on? I started working at AAC in June. I am working on state policy issues and draft bills. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020



LAW CLERK — SHELBY MORROW Education: I graduated high school from Rockwall High School in Rockwall, Texas, and with distinction from Hendrix College. I am currently a concurrent student at William H. Bowen School of Law and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Family information: I was born in Colorado Springs, but I grew up in Dallas before moving to Arkansas to attend Hendrix College. The timing is funny because I’ve basically spent a third of my life in each place. I have a younger brother, Jackson, who is stationed in Guam with the U.S. Air Force.

so that is a big one. I was also named the 2019 National Service Honoree at the VolunteerAR Community Service Awards for my AmeriCorps Vista term with Our House Shelter. I learned so much there, and being recognized for that was so surreal and lovely. At the top of my bucket list is to: Own and live on a tiny farm with a great garden, some chickens and maybe a goat. The hardest thing I have ever done is: Plan a fundraising event for a non-profit, plan a wedding, and apply to graduate school all at the same time.

Shelby Morro w

My favorite meal: I love grilled cheese sandwiches. When I’m not working I’m: Studying. Other times I’m reading, taking my dog on a walk, knitting, or experimenting with digital art. The accomplishments of which I am most proud: I’m the first person in my immediate family to graduate college,

You might be surpised to learn that: I have an undergraduate minor in Studio Art with a focus on film photography. My pet peeve is: Slow cars in the passing lane. How long have you been at the AAC, and what are you working on? I started at AAC in June, and I’ve been looking into the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and potential grants.

LAW CLERK — JACOB PHILLIPS Education: I finished high school from Russellville High School and graduated from Arkansas Tech University in 2016 with a psychology major and pre-law minor. This fall I will begin my third and final year at William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock. Family information: I have two younger sisters, a supportive mother and father, and a wonderful fiancé. I currently live in Little Rock while attending William H. Bowen School of Law. My favorite meal: Pupusas. When I’m not working I’m: Studying the law, lifting weights, or making music.

At the top of my bucket list is to: See the Great Pyramid of Giza. The hardest thing I have ever done is: Taking the initial steps to pursue my dream of becoming an attorney. It has been a difficult yet rewarding journey. You might be surpised to learn that: I can ride a unicycle. My pet peeve is: Tardiness.

Jacob P hillips

The accomplishments of which I am most proud: I sunk a half-court shot for $100 during half-time at a high school COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020

basketball game a few years ago.

How long have you been at the AAC, and what projects are your working on? I started working at AAC in May. When a prisoner in a county jail files a complaint, I review their file and assist the attorneys in responding. I also have been researching general issues relating to county government. 43

AAC AAC a m i l yo n f e rr ei enncdes »




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 t io 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 9 . 9 MI L L I O N dollars in dividends, payable to members of the fund. In fact, we mailed $750,000 in savings back to member counties in July 2020.

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Workers’ Compensation Fund pays $750,000 in dividends to its member counties in 2020


he Association of Arkansas Counties Workers’ Compensation Trust is proud to announce that for the 24th straight year dividends will be returned to all participating counties. The 2020 dividend is declared based on 2016 premiums paid and losses incurred. This brings the total dividends paid over the last 24 years to $29,948,953. AAC Workers’ Compensation Trust Group Manager Chris Villines recommended the $750,000 dividend to the board of trustees at its June meeting. Checks were issued in July. “There are several reasons that we are able to continue returning such large sums to the counties,” Villines said. “Our staff is excellent and efficient and the counties of Arkansas work hard to minimize risks at home. I cannot compliment our Risk Management and Insurance Director Debbie Norman enough. She has an incredible responsibility and handles it wonderfully. The Workers’ Comp staff is equally adept. Debbie Lakey, Kim Nash, Renee Turner, Kim Mitchell, and Ellen Wood do an excellent job.” AAC Risk Management and Insurance Director Debbie Norman said, “From inception to today, this program has performed beyond expectations. It has always been our goal to reward counties with dividends, and this is the 24th straight year that successful management of the program and the commitment to safety in our counties has allowed it to occur.” AAC, along with county officials from around the state, created the AAC Workers’ Compensation Trust in 1985 — a plan to pool resources and form a self-

funded, county-owned trust to provide premium Workers’ Compensation coverage at a savings to members. The AAC Workers’ Compensation Trust is fully regulated by the State of Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. Current trustees are Jimmy Hart, Conway County Judge; Debbie Wise, Randolph County Circuit Clerk; Debra Buckner, Pulaski County Treasurer; Brandon Ellison, Polk County Judge; and Rusty McMillon, Greene County Judge. Here are the formulaic dividend amounts per county as approved by the AAC/WCT board: Arkansas County.........................$8,400 Ashley County.............................$9,907 Baxter County...........................$16,294 Benton County.........................$39,518 Boone County..........................$10,885 Bradley County...........................$7,420 Calhoun County.........................$5,260 Carroll County..........................$10,549 Chicot County............................$4,629 Clark County..............................$9,763 Clay County................................$6,197 Cleburne County........................$6,407 Cleveland County.......................$4,772 Columbia County.......................$8,589 Conway County..........................$7,433 Craighead County....................$20,569 Crawford County........................$9,496 Crittenden County...................$13,207 Cross County..............................$4,755 Dallas County.............................$5,985 Desha County.............................$6,896 Drew County..............................$5,462 Faulkner County.......................$18,914 Franklin County.........................$9,617 Fulton County............................$6,065 Garland County........................$23,490 Grant County..............................$8,388 Greene County............................$9,271 Hempstead County.....................$4,366 Hot Spring County.....................$9,576

Howard County..........................$4,842 Independence County................$4,487 Izard County...............................$6,814 Jackson County...........................$6,810 Jefferson County.......................$17,370 Johnson County..........................$4,624 Lafayette County.........................$7,494 Lawrence County........................$6,263 Lee County..................................$3,394 Lincoln County...........................$6,600 Little River County.....................$6,595 Logan County.............................$8,426 Lonoke County.........................$16,020 Madison County.........................$7,104 Marion County..............................$771 Miller County.............................$9,959 Mississippi County...................$13,700 Monroe County..........................$3,079 Montgomery County..................$7,338 Nevada County...........................$7,613 Newton County..........................$8,884 Ouachita County........................$7,306 Perry County...............................$7,420 Phillips County...........................$7,028 Pike County................................$5,758 Poinsett County........................$12,168 Polk County..............................$11,717 Pope County...............................$9,858 Prairie County.............................$4,639 Pulaski County..........................$60,823 Randolph County......................$4,155 Saline County............................$17,640 Scott County...............................$9,485 Searcy County.............................$7,028 Sebastian County......................$11,119 Sevier County..............................$7,447 Sharp County..............................$6,094 St. Francis County....................$12,149 Stone County..............................$8,178 Union County...........................$14,274 Van Buren County....................$12,619 Washington County....................$8,866 White County...........................$20,049 Woodruff County.......................$2,929 Yell County.............................. $10,984 COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2020





Continued From Page 14

tempt to mislead Arkansas voters. Currently the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State draw the legislative districts in the state, and the 135 legislators draw our congressional districts. Those three constitutional officers and the 135 legislators are accountable to every Arkansas voter. Neither the constitutional officers nor the legislators are responsible for drawing their own districts. The Democratic Party of Arkansas has always, every single time for nearly 100 years, been responsible for drawing legislative districts. Now they have lost their majority control and they want to change the rules. There is no such thing as a true, independent appointee. Everyone has political leanings and it is best to side with transparency. We need to keep the process in place, a process that is accountable.” Bonnie Miller, chair of Arkansas Voters First and president of the League of Women Voters of Washington County had a differing opinion. “For too long, Arkansas politicians and special interests have used secret backroom deals to manipulate political districts


to protect their interests by drawing districts to benefit them, not voters,” she said. “It’s a clear conflict of interest, and it’s time to stop the practice of politicians picking their voters, and let voters pick their politicians. The Arkansas Voters First amendment creates a nine-member independent Citizens’ Redistricting Commission. Commission members, who cannot have served as a politician or lobbyist for the last five years, will hold public hearings broadcast on TV or online. It will have three Republicans, three Democrats and three independent members, creating a fair, transparent, citizen-driven process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts.” Redistricting will not change before the next general assembly; the process will remain the same as it has for over 150 years. You will hear politicians and pundits use the word gerrymandering a lot if their side doesn’t agree with the new districts. — Research by AAC Law Clerk Dorothy Spector

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