Summer 2021 County Lines

Page 1

County Lines

Summer 2021

AAC Conference Recap

See photos and more from the 53rd annual event. Page 24

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In This Issue COVER STORY Counties Say ’The Show Must Go On’............................................32 AAC Hosts Randy Kemp Memorial Golf Tournament................36 Thank You to Our 2021 Exhibitors and Sponsors.......................38

Features AAC Calendar.......................................................................................6 AAC names 2021 Scholarship Recipients...................................28 Conway County Judge Receives 2021 Wes Fowler Award........30 Staff Profile: Tosha Taylor...............................................................41 Staff Profile: Cagney Kilgore...........................................................42

AAC Photo Recap: County Circuit Clerks...................................49 AAC Photo Recap: County Sheriffs............................................50 AAC Photo Recap: County Clerks...............................................51 Workers’ Compensation Fund Pays Dividends...........................52


From the Director’s Desk...................................................................7 President’s Perspective......................................................................9 From the Governor............................................................................11 AG Opinions.......................................................................................13 Seems to Me..................................................................................... 14

Staff Profile: Abijah Kratochvil.......................................................42

Governmental Affairs.......................................................................16

Staff Profile: Jeremy Ashton...........................................................43

Legal Corner......................................................................................17

Staff Profile: Jordyn Nykaza............................................................43

Litigation Lessons.............................................................................18

AAC Photo Recap: County Assessors...........................................45

Wellness & Safety............................................................................19

AAC Photo Recap: County Collectors.........................................46

Research Corner: Mental Illness...................................................20

AAC Photo Recap: County Treasurers...........................................47

Resarch Corner: Law Enforcement...............................................24

AAC Photo Recap: County Judges..................................................48

News from NACo...............................................................................54

Cover N o tes: The Show Must Go On

( P hotos by Holland Doran)

Above: Sevier County Judge Greg Ray and Craighead County Judge Marvin Day visit prior to the start of the County Judges’ breakout session at conference. Right: County Judges’ Association of Arkansas President and Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison gets the breakout session going. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021





AAC Mission Statement


Sept. 29 - Oct. 1 County Clerks Mt. Magazine State Park, Paris

Oct. 15-17 Coroners Monticello

Oct. 5-7 Judges Road Seminar DeGray Lake State Park, Bismarck

Oct. 19-21 Arkansas Rural Development Red Wolf Convention Center, Jonesboro

Oct. 12-15 Circuit Clerks Fairfield Bay Conference Center, Fairfield Bay

Oct. 21-22 Treasurers Hilton Garden Inn, Little Rock

Calendar activities also are posted on our website:

Contact AAC Chris Villines, Executive Director Anne Baker, Executive Assistant Whitney Ivesl, 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 Dugger, 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 Tosha Taylor, RMF Paralegal

Karan Skarda, ACE Program Coordinator

Greg Hunt, Claims Analyst Samantha Wren, RMF Paralegal

Cindy Posey, Accountant

Kim Mitchell, Administrative Assistant Becky Comet, Member Benefits Manager

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




County Lines

American Rescue Plan funding and its uses are hot topic

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 Randy Higgins 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.



s the Summer of 2021 draws to a close, our collective rear-view mirrors have a split screen. When we rolled through spring some folks — Chris Villines AAC smart folks — were beginning to discuss the Executive Director possibility of resuming normal activities this fall and being completely back to normal by say, October. The last half of summer, however, did not comply. Planned and obvious choices of travel and conferences blurred a bit, but I am so happy that we were able to have our annual conference this year in Benton County and very happy to have reconnected with so many of you in August. Full coverage of the conference can be found in the magazine. As we enter the fall, many of you have received a vaccine, and you are comfortable with face-to-face gatherings. Most of the AAC policy team will be out and about to see you as your associations reconvene. This is a great place to remind you that Lindsey French likely will not be there — but for a great reason. Join me in congratulating she and Nick on the arrival of Laney Blake into the French home! When we do get out and about, I’m sure the most discussed issue at our association meetings will be the one that is consuming a lot of time here at the Association. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) is undoubtedly the most complex issue I’ve dealt with that has a federal – county nexus. Our ARP team is working diligently to peel back the layers of ARP money and offer sound advice. This team is made up of myself, Eddie Jones, Mark Whitmore, Josh Curtis and Christy Smith. And, as a part of our team we are thrilled to have one of the best federal experts around working with us in the form of Lindsey Holman. An Arkansas native, she has worked in Washington, D.C., for the National Association of Counties and others, and her experience has been a blessing to our team and all of you. Many of you have her on speed dial already and have asked her volumes of questions. The bottom line is the federal government has launched an extremely complex program and is defining it as it goes along, or as Lindsey Holman would say, “they are flying an airplane while building it.” Until final rules are in place on how the money can be spent, most localities are hesitant to spend much. The dangers of clawback rest solely in the laps of the government (NOT the sub-recipient) that misspends, so most are moving forward with a great degree of trepidation. That said, in this game there are a few layups, a phrase coined by Mark Whitmore for those investments that are less risky and broadly defined by the U.S. Department of Treasury. First and foremost, every county has just been guaranteed a growth rate of 4.1 percent when calculating revenue losses for 2021, 2022 and 2023. Using the Treasury formula for revenue loss calculation (and our judges and treasurers have been well educated on this thanks to helpful folks like Debbie Cross, Greene County Treasurer) many of our counties have growth rates of less than the 4.1 percent for 2021. This means that you can utilize ARP funding to make up the difference between the actual growth rate and the 4.1 >>> percent put forth under ARP. Revenue losses found for each year, 2021-





2023, can be used for very flexible “revenue replacement” eligible use category per Treasury’s policy. Revenue replacement dollars can be spent on general government purposes such as road projects; school or educational services; and the provision of police, fire, and other public safety services. The spending of this money has strings attached, but we encourage all counties to look closely at this “layup” as one of your better options. Secondly, some counties are utilizing the premium pay provision of ARP. I prefer the phraseology of “hazard pay” as this money is to be utilized to pay a premium to those employees who were in harm’s way during the pandemic. Any county employee who had to show up in person and were around others is eligible. They didn’t have to be public facing. If they were in an office with others and not working from home, they are eligible to be compensated through this mechanism. The details of these two “layups” won’t fit in this column, but I encourage every county to begin by looking at these two options. For those counties that do utilize the premium pay model, I encourage you to have employees contact Fran Walker at Nationwide (or whoever your particular 457(b)(3) provider is) to begin setting aside some of this earned income. As you

know from watching the news, we may be seeing rapidly rising inflation on the horizon. In the career span of those working today, there may have never been a more important time to set aside income, and the premium pay mechanism may be the perfect segue into doing just this. If you have questions about the American Rescue Plan, I’d like to encourage you to reach out to our team, we stand ready to help out. You can reach us by emailing or by calling any of us here at the office. Thank you all for your service, we appreciate all you’ve done over the past year and a half. Local government truly is the best level of government.

Chris Villines AAC Executive Director

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The show was an overwhelming success


t was such a joy to gather in Rogers/Benton County for the AAC’s 53rd Annual Conference in August. It warmed my heart to see all the smiling faces as attendees reconnected with friends and colleagues they had not seen in person since the start of the pandemic. More than 500 people attended this year’s event. That number may be a bit lower than normal, but we aren’t living in normal times right now. However, I was proud of the safety precautions the AAC implemented, such as the distribution of masks to every conference attendee. I must also recognize three of our exhibitors for their efforts to keep everyone safe. Homeland Safety Systems provided equipment for every attendee to have his or her temperature checked, and Your Disinfection Connection made sure every room we used was disinfected. In addition, I was pleased to see the Arkansas Department of Health offering a vaccination to every person who wanted one. Of course, I am grateful for all our exhibitors and sponsors. We had 91 exhibitors and/or sponsors this year. Thank you to each of you — you make our conference possible. I appreciate your continued support of county government more than I can say. The programming this year was outstanding. The topics discussed were diverse, ranging from the American Rescue Plan to cybersecurity to human resources. There was something for everyone. And I’m sure, like me, you all learned something new that will help you better serve your constituents back home. The AAC staff brought together another distinguished group of speakers for this year’s conference. U.S. Senator John Boozman joined us to provide an update on issues

including the federal infrastructure plan. National Association of Counties (NACo) Past President and Boone County, Kentucky, Judge Gary Moore spoke to what NACo is doing on a national level to help counties. Members of the DEBBIE WISE Senate and House City, County, AAC Board President; Local committees met to hear and Randolph County Circuit Clerk discuss law enforcement challenges. Attorney Jerome Tapley provided insight on pending opioid litigation and what a settlement could mean for the state of Arkansas and its cities and counties. Finally, Gov. Asa Hutchinson took time from his busy schedule to speak to us and to answer several of our questions. In this issue of County Lines magazine, you will see highlights from the event, starting on page 28 with our annual AAC scholarship winners. On page 30, you can read about the recipient of the 2021 Wes Fowler Advocacy Award — Conway County Judge and my fellow AAC Board Member Jimmy Hart. It was a pleasure to honor Jimmy for his years of dedication to county government. On the pages that follow, you can relive the conference and the annual Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament through photos.

Debbie Wise Debbie Wise Randolph County Circuit Clerk / AAC Board President

Follow us on Facebook @75ARcounties for all the latest county news.






Fair season is back

he county fair is one of the traditions that we missed last year because of the pandemic, and today I’m very excited to talk about the reopening of the fairs this fall. The first known organized fair in the United States was a sheep-shearing contest in 1807 in Pennsylvania. Fairs expanded to include the judging of homemade muscadine jelly and green beans in Mason jars, merry-go-rounds, beauty pageants, basketball toss, and foods we eat only once a year. Fairs are a big deal in dozens of communities in Arkansas. Barbie Washburn, president of the Arkansas Fair Managers Association, says the loss of last year’s fair season hurt small towns such as Marvel, where she lives and works. She also is president of the TriCounty Fair, which includes Philips, Lee, and Monroe counties. She has loved the fair since childhood. She said, “As soon as it started rolling in, I could hear it and feel it. I couldn’t wait to ride the Ferris wheel and eat cotton candy.” Now she lives three blocks from the TriCounty fairground. She said that last year, she missed walking outside onto her patio to listen to the sounds and see the lights. She said, “Our attendance is usually 10,000. People come to town, buy gas, eat at the local diner. When the carnival’s here, the washateria is used 24/7.” The fair buys feed from the local feed store, and supplies from the hardware store. That didn’t happen last year. Just about all of the county fairs are reopened for this fall. Now, some of the fairs that are reopening won’t have a midway with rides and games because some of the carnival companies didn’t survive the pandemic. But Freddy Miller,

whose parents Johnny and Sue started Miller Spectacular Shows in Greenbrier, said his family’s company has had a phenomenal recovery this year. The survival of county fairs is important to our communities. Hon. ASA In July, I asked the Department HuTCHINSON of Agriculture to release $1.8 Governor of Arkansas million in premium and construction funding to fairs. Going back to 2019, the state has allocated $3.8 million. Barbie really wants county fairs to survive. She fears losing another event that brings a community together. That’s what the county fair is for. You see people you may not see any other time of the year. The fair is especially important for making memories for children. And for me that is really important. Each year my daughter, Sarah, and I look forward to going to the fair. We ride rides and look at the exhibits from across the state. I am confident that county fairs will continue to thrive. The Saline County Fair, Bull Riding, and Rodeo is returning this year, and I happen to know that because I am riding in the parade. I am happy to note that I’m doing it for the fun of it and to show my support for the fair.

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: from coroners’ release of information to payment of claims AG OPINION NO. 2020-041 The AG answered some of the questions of the coroners regarding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The AG concluded that, as currently written, Ark. Code § 14-15304 “plainly requires public access of all information of a coroner’s investigation,” except for “confidential medical information.” Ark Code § 14-15-304 apparently does not provide protections from release by the coroner of information documented by the coroner despite the existence of ongoing investigations by law enforcement or prosecutors. The AG referenced the federal rights and protections of privacy afforded citizens by the U.S. Constitution referenced in the case of McCambridge v. City of Little Rock. However, the AG indicated there were not sufficient facts in the subject AG Opinion request to determine whether private information should be protected from release. It is apparent that the deceased and families of the deceased in Arkansas are not afforded affirmative protections of privacy under the plain provision of the Arkansas law, Ark. Code § 14-15-304. State Senators Cecile Bledsoe and Kim Hammer along with state Representatives McCollum, Carr and Tosh kindly and courageously filed Senate Bill (SB) 567 to address these issues. However, the particular senate committee assigned SB 567 declined to address these issues, pass SB 567 or to amend Ark. Code § 14-15-304. AG OPINION NO. 2020-030 The AG addressed the authority of county judges and counties regarding testing of county employees for COVID-19. The AG explained that the quorum court, not the county judge, is provided the authority over adopting general employee personnel policies for county employees. Employee COVID-19 testing or related employee health

policies are general employee personnel policies, which are under the authority of the quorum court under Ark. Code § 14-14-805. However, the county judge has Mark Whitmore the authority over the custody and AAC Chief Counsel management of county property as provided by Amendment 55 of the Arkansas Constitution and Ark Code § 14-14-1102. The AG determined that subject to the responsibility of various other elected county officials to operate their respective county offices, the county judge may under certain facts and circumstances impose reasonable restrictions on workers and officials to access county property if they have been exposed to COVID-19.

AG OPINION NO. 2020-059 The AG explained that a claim or voucher should be approved by the county judge for disbursement of county funds where it meets the criteria under Ark. Code § 14-14-1102(b) (2)(B). The criteria under the law include: a sufficient appropriation by the Quorum Court; a sufficient unencumbered balance of funds on hand in the appropriate county fund and budget line item to pay the claim; the expenditure complies with the purposes for which the funds were appropriated; and the services for which the expenditure is to be made were satisfactorily rendered, and payment thereof has been incurred in a lawful manner and is owed by the county. Under these circumstances the county judge should approve the disbursement of county funds for the payment of the proper claim. The AG additionally explained that there is no requirement under the law upon a county judge to state the reason or reasons for denying the payment of a claim.

75 Counties - One Voice COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021




The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask

There’s no such thing as a stupid question” is a popu- tion, always require the Arkansas code lar phrase with a long history. It suggests that the or case law — something that provides a quest for knowledge includes failure and that just definitive answer. because one person may know less than others, they If you have a question, the worst should not be afraid to ask rather than pretend they already thing you can do is let it go unanswered. know. In many cases multiple people may not know but are You may even get a few non-verbal too afraid to ask the “stupid question;” the one who asks the responses: a blank stare, an eyeroll and Eddie A. Jones question may in fact be doing a service to those around them. a sigh. Yes, maybe you have temporarily County Consultant Carl Sagan, in his writings said: “There are naïve questions, frustrated a few people who want out of tedious questions, ill-phrased questions … but every question is the meeting. There are always a few who a cry to understand. There is no such thing as a dumb question.” don’t want to be there anyway. Ask your Seems to me we’ve all been there. A question sits right on the question. tip of your tongue but If you don’t underyou just can’t — no, you stand something, just won’t — ask it. Pushassume someone else is f you have a question, the worst thing you can do ing back questions that also in the dark. Odds surface is equivalent to are there are others is let it go unanswered. You may even get a few painting over mildew. It with the same question might take the problem or questions making non-verbal responses: a blank stare, an eyeroll and a off your mind for a short circles in their minds. If time, but you have not sigh. Yes, maybe you have temporarily frustrated a few it strikes you as imporaddressed the underlying tant, ask the question problem. And when the then and there. Just deal people who want out of the meeting. There are always mildew resurfaces you’ve with the non-verbal let a minor problem turn reactions head on and a few who don’t want to be there. Ask your question. into a bigger problem. probe until you get an There are many reaanswer. I guarantee you sons we give ourselves that doing so will yield to not ask the question: an “a-ha” moment for someone else in the room. One of my primary responsibilities as a consultant for the • Maybe you asked it already and got an answer, but you Association of Arkansas Counties is to answer questions for aren’t satisfied. county officials and provide guidance concerning the lawful • Maybe you feel you should know the answer, but you operation of their office. I answer numerous questions on a don’t. daily basis. In my answers I do my best to provide any law that • Maybe you think everyone else understands what was governs; applicable Attorney General (AG) Opinions; case law said — they probably don’t. that is on point; and any ethical issues that may be involved. I’m always available for your questions. I try to provide anWant to know what I think? I’ll tell you anyway — swers in writing and try to remember there’s no such thing as DON’T DO IT. Find a way to get over, past, or around a stupid question, as long as it ends in a question mark. Here whatever is causing you to hit your pause button. Ask your are a few examples of how I try to answer your questions: question. And don’t just ask it, ask it until it is answered and you are comfortable that it has been answered correctly. Question: As a county official or a deputy to an elected official, you Is it against the law to hire family? Can a county official have raised your right hand and sworn to uphold the laws hire a wife, son, daughter, in-law, etc.? governing your office … and to uphold the Constitution of the State of Arkansas … and to uphold the Constitution of Answer: the United States. Don’t take that lightly. You are bound by Hiring a family member is called “nepotism,” and if law to operate your county office in a lawful manner. Do not. nepotism is to be prohibited at the county level it is accomand I repeat, do not take as an answer, “Here’s how I do it…” plished by ordinance of the county governing body — the and then the explanation. As part of the answer to your ques- quorum court. State law does not include a general nepotism




AAC prohibition for county government. However, Ark Code § 14-14-805 grants authority to the county legislative body to implement a nepotism policy for the county. Ironically, Ark Code § 14-14-805 is a code concerning powers that are denied the quorum court. Subsection (2) of this code, after addressing some things that the quorum court cannot address legislatively, says “subject to the limitations imposed by the Arkansas Constitution and state law regarding these subject areas, a quorum court may exercise any legislative authority with regard to employee policy and practices of a general nature, including but not limited to, establishment of general vacation and sick leave policies, general office hour policies, general policies with reference to nepotism, or general policies to be applicable to the hiring of county employees.” The enactment of nepotism policies has been held by the Arkansas Supreme Court to be within the legislative authority of a quorum court in a 1979 case, Henderson v. Russell. [See AG Opinion Nos. 1992-344 and 1997-380]


I have been told by auditors that a county cannot pay a penalty on overdue bills. I realize that a county should not get in this position, but is that correct? Is a county not allowed by law to pay late charges or interest on delinquent bills?


There are no laws that keep a county from paying a penalty if, in fact, they find themselves in a position that a penalty is applied because of late payment of a payable. However, “interest” is a different story. A county is allowed to pay interest only on bond issues or when taking advantage of short-term financing. A county is prohibited from paying interest constitutionally except for the exceptions mentioned — and those exceptions are provided by constitutional amendment. Interest is legally defined as “the compensation fixed by agreement or allowed by law for the use of money.” Article 16, § 1 of the Arkansas Constitution says, “Neither the State nor any city, county, town or other municipality in this State shall ever lend its credit for any purposes whatever; nor shall any county, city or town or municipality ever issue any interest bearing evidences of indebtedness, except such bonds as may be authorized by law…” Amendment 78 of the Constitution provides for short-term financing for counties and cities allowing interest. Amendments 62, 65 and 72 also allow various types of bond issues and debt obligations, which entail interest. However, a “penalty” is legally defined as “an extra charge against a party who violates a contractual provision.” When a county makes a purchase from a vendor, it automatically agrees to the terms of payment. If those terms are not met the county is subject to paying the penalty just like anyone else. I find no law or AG Opinion to the contrary. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021



Are the Juvenile Probation Fee Fund and the Juvenile Court Representation Fund the same fund by different names?


No. They are separate funds for separate purposes. The codes establishing and regulating both funds were amended by Act 1175 of 2011 which reworked much of the juvenile court code. Ark Code § 16-13-326 renamed the Juvenile Probation Fee Fund the Circuit Court Juvenile Division Fund. This fund is now the fund for all court costs, fines, and fees assessed by the juvenile division of the circuit court. These moneys are to be used to support the juveniles and juvenile division court services and programs. Ark Code § 9-27-316 deals with the right to counsel. The court is to order financially able parents or custodians to pay all or part of reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses for court-appointed representation. These moneys collected by the clerk are to be retained by the clerk and deposited into a special fund to be known as the Juvenile Court Representation Fund [9-27-316(b)(3)(4)(5)]. The court can then direct that money from this fund be used in providing counsel for indigent parents or custodians at the trial level in dependency-neglect cases. Arkansas AG Opinion No. 93-071 also confirms that this fund is to remain on the books of the Circuit Clerk. A 1970 Dear Abby column said: “There is no such thing as a stupid question if it’s sincere. Better to ask and risk appearing stupid than to continue on your ignorant way and make a stupid mistake.” Just to make it clear, it was Abigail Van Buren who said that. I’ll be a little less frank and say, “Seems to me, if you don’t have the answer, ask the question.” My email address is and my cell phone number is 870-810-0115. I get overloaded with questions at times, so if I don’t get back with you immediately, know that I will get back to you. A woman recounting a story about an old man who used to answer all her “stupid questions,” as she called them, said the old man explained, “Sherry, if you ask a question, it makes you look stupid for 5 minutes, but if you don’t ask, you stay stupid for 50 years, so always ask questions in your life.” You can let me be the old man who answers your questions. I’ve been in this business for 41 years, but even I ask questions. Don’t expect me to tickle your ears. I’ll give you what I believe to be the correct answer whether it’s the answer you’re looking for or not. The one trouble with asking questions is that you sometimes get answers you don’t want to hear. But a great truth is that answers exist only to questions. Coach Lou Holtz said, “I never learn anything talking, I only learn things when I ask questions.” 15



Counties discuss variety of ways to use American Rescue Plan funding


omeone who has been around county government for over 40 years told me that Arkansas counties are in the best financial shape they have ever been in. The primary reason is the influx of dollars coming from the federal government through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan (ARP). As with most federal money, there are strings attached. What can you spend it on? How do you document the expenditures? Who can you give it to? Does this project make sense? Should we look long-term, or should we spend it now? How long do we have to spend it? These are just a few questions that have been emailed to arp@arcounties. org. The AAC has contracted with Lindsey Holman of Holman Strategies, LLC to help answer these questions and provide the best guidance for counties. Everyone should understand that this is one-time money and most likely will never be available again. In this article, I will provide examples of what counties are doing with the funds. Some are still developing processes related to how requests will be allowed to be submitted. Some have spent some of their money, still others are eyeing big projects. One place to start is to calculate lost revenue. Revenue replacement funds can be spent on any normal course of county business. “Greene County has earmarked $1.8 million as lost revenue, which goes into County General,” said Greene County Judge Rusty McMillon. “I hope to use much of that for bridge replacements, overlays, and even some new paving. I have assembled a few members of the community to help with advising on how the remainder of this money could be used. From our initial meeting, they have suggested use of the funds for roads, broad band infrastructure to undeserved areas of the community, assisting municipal water and rural water districts with improvements, and grants to non-profits and small businesses.” The Saline County Quorum Court tasked County Judge Jeff Arey and his staff with developing a process to openly and fairly evaluate ideas, proposals and requests that may be made for the ARP funds that the county has received. As a result, Saline County has developed a Request for Proposal (RFP) application to provide members of the public and potential respondents with the criteria for what Saline County will consider for projects and the process for having them considered. The goal is to provide a transparent, thorough process, to ensure public confidence that the taxpayer funds provided to Saline County are spent in an accountable manner. The county is not asking for formal proposals until the Treasury Department’s final rule is released. Once the ruling is released, Saline County will make any necessary changes to the RFP, and then begin accepting proposals. Here are a few of the guiding principles 16

for the ARP Funds that Judge Arey mentioned: ARP funds should be utilized in such a way to pursue large, transformative projects of $1 million or more; projects should positively Josh Curtis impact all of, or as much as possible Governmental Affairs of, Saline County; projects should Director not create continuous financial obligations for future Quorum Courts, to the greatest extent possible; and proposals that include partnerships with other local governments, state governments or political subdivisions, or public-private partnerships that maximize the potential for a project are preferred. Craighead County Judge Marvin Day said he is listening to the ideas of various community groups and watching what other counties are considering. “We consider this funding to be monumental and are making sure that what we do with it will be monumental as well. We are seeking a project or projects that are consistent with our communities’ strategic plans for the future,” he said. Baxter County plans to build a new county health department building. It’s a goal Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass has had since he has been office. He said the county needs the larger building and could possibly build it with the ARP funds, if approved. Baxter County also is pursuing possible isolation unit(s) for the jail, and plans to use the money for additional broadband and premium pay for employees. Chicot County Judge Mack Ball said his county is discussing possible uses for the funds in the local hospital “and ways to expand broadband in the county, hoping all of this will increase economic development for Chicot County.” Conway County gave $5,200 to all full-time employees and $2,600 to all part-time employees who worked last year during the pandemic. Conway County Judge Jimmy Hart said he is proud that his Quorum Court provided premium pay for all employees of the county. These are only a few examples of what counties are doing and what they are thinking about for the future. We are still awaiting the official final rule to be published by the U.S. Department of Treasury, and it may look a lot different than the current interim final rule. There also may be additional legislation from Congress that could give more flexibility to counties spending this money. An amendment was proposed to the most recent Senate infrastructure bill that would allow counties to spend ARP money on conventional infrastructure such as roads and bridges. We recommend not being in a hurry spending this money if you don’t have to be. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021




Where we stand on mask mandates

n Spring 2021, the Arkansas General Assembly was finishing up a Regular Session that, although certainly different from previous sessions due to COVID-19, had been largely unaffected by the virus as far as actual transmissions among the legislature. By late March, Capitol occupants were becoming vaccinated, shedding their masks, and preparing to return to the “old normal.” A handful of legislators contracted COVID-19 during the session, but it ended in late April without any massive outbreaks. As evidenced by a lawsuit and open remarks in the media, some conservative lawmakers were opposed to some of the Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s emergency orders during the pandemic, including the statewide mask mandate. On March 22 Sen. Trent Garner introduced SB590 banning future mask mandates. It passed the Senate with 27 votes and an emergency clause that would have made the law effective on the date it was signed by the Governor. In the House, Rep. Jeff Wardlaw filed an amendment to SB590. It deleted the original bill’s language in its entirety and added an uncodified section saying that upon its effective date, all mandatory face covering requirements shall end, except for those implemented by private business or state-owned or state-controlled healthcare facilities. The amended bill gave the General Assembly authority over the mandatory use of face coverings and prohibited state agencies, political subdivisions of the state, or state or local officials from mandating individual use of face coverings, including as a condition for entry, education, or services. The bill as amended directs that state or local governments could recommend mask usage but must provide notice that usage is not mandatory. Private businesses, state-owned or controlled healthcare facilities, and facilities operated by the Arkansas Department of Corrections or Department of Human Services Division of Youth Services are exempted. SB590 as amended passed the House with 69 votes on April 20, and then passed the Senate with a narrow margin of 19 votes on April 22, less than a week before the legislature recessed from session until the Fall. Because it did not get the votes to pass the emergency clause, Act 1002 went into effect on July 28, 2021. What does this mean for county officials? Arkansas is experiencing record-setting COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates, the likes of which we did not see in 2020, and officials and constituents alike are asking about going back to local mask requirements. Act 1002 as it was passed prohibits the county judge or quorum court from passing local mask mandates for the county. It also prohibits requiring masks as a condition for entry into the courthouse or into an elected county official’s office. Elected officials may recommend and encourage mask usage in the courthouse, but you must post notice that it is not mandatory if you do so. Act 1002 applies to city and school district officials as well, and with schools open and holding large amounts of unvacCOUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021

cinated students, many school districts are concerned. As of Aug. 5, the Marion School District had 839 students and staff quarantined and 56 positive cases after beginning school on July 6. They were joined by the Little Rock School District in asking the General Assembly to amend Act 1002 to allow school LINDSEY FRENCH districts the option to implement local General Counsel district-wide mask mandates. The Governor called a Special Session to convene on Aug. 4, to take up the issue as well as an unrelated federal unemployment benefits matter. After extensive testimony on the issue over two days from citizens and experts, the Joint Public Health Committee did not pass a bill by Rep. Julie Mayberry to allow school districts to decide whether to implement mask mandates for students 12 and younger. The bill did not include any such flexibility for cities or counties. Lawsuits were filed across the state, including one filed on Aug. 2 from parents of school children, joined by the Marion and Little Rock school districts and Pulaski Judge Barry Hyde and Pulaski County Sheriff Eric Higgins. On Aug. 6, Judge Tim Fox issued a preliminary injunction declaring Act 1002 unconstitutional based on three grounds: violating Amendment 55 as it relates to the county judge’s authority over county property; Amendment 80 as it relates to a circuit judge’s authority over the courtroom; and the Equal Protection Clause as it relates to the similarly situated classes of public school and private school children. The state has filed an appeal, and Fox has set a three-day court hearing in November. The General Assembly did vote to affirm Gov. Hutchinson’s July 29 state of emergency declaration, which allows Arkansas to seek outside assistance and temporarily relax licensure requirements for overcrowded and understaffed hospitals. However, this state of emergency will not look like the one the state was under for over a year until May 2021. The Governor made clear he has no plans of putting restrictions on businesses, and with the General Assembly not amending Act 1002, mask mandates will not be permitted for most public settings. Mask mandates aside, what can county leaders do to try and curb our current surge in COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations? Masks and social distancing can be encouraged in county-operated buildings. Many communities are working with local healthcare providers to set up convenient pop-up vaccination clinics, and the federal government has issued guidance for using federal COVID-19 relief funds for local vaccination incentives. In 2020, the creativity shown by county officials in curbing the spread of COVID-19 while remaining open to the people’s business was nothing short of amazing. I expect that we will see the same during our most recent trials. 17




Managing jail population

reetings, sheriffs and jail administrators, deputies, and jailers. The pandemic has presented unique challenges to jails (and all correctional institutions), specifically regarding jail populations. Many jails and prisons in Arkansas and nationwide have taken steps to reduce jail populations in response to the pandemic, to protect the health and lives of detainees and correctional staff. In this article, I will summarize a sheriff’s powers under Arkansas law, and options for county jails, to manage the population of a jail. This article explains the tools and authority available to Arkansas sheriffs under Arkansas law —as the law was before the pandemic and will likely remain. Policies and actions that help reduce/manage a jail population are always useful and important — especially during a pandemic, but not only during a pandemic. The article outlines four policy suggestions for Arkansas jails. First, do not accept arrestees into the jail if the jail is at capacity. Although the sheriff has a general duty under Arkansas law to accept lawfully arrested prisoners into the jail, the law specifically allows a sheriff to decline arrestees “as necessary to limit prisoner population.” According to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the jail is full — for constitutional purposes — when the addition of another jail detainee would reduce the available living space in the jail, per detainee, to less than 43.3 square feet. We recommend that every jail have and follow a policy that the jail will not accept detainees into the jail if the jail is at capacity. Second, do not accept a detainee into the jail if the detainee needs immediate medical care. This includes a detainee who is bleeding or has an obvious physical injury, but it also includes a detainee who is in mental health crisis, and a detainee who is severely intoxicated by drugs or alcohol and may be at risk of overdose or withdrawal. A detainee in need of immediate medical care has a constitutional right to receive necessary medical care from the detaining agency. The duty to provide that medical care belongs to the arresting officer/agency unless and until custody of the detainee is transferred by acceptance into the county jail. If hospitalization is needed, the arresting officer should transport the detainee to the emergency room rather than to the jail. We recommend that as a matter of intake/booking policy and custom, when an arrestee needs immediate medical care upon arrival at the jail, jail staff should decline to accept the arrestee into the jail and instruct the arresting officer to transport the detainee to a hospital or other appropriate facility. Third, have and follow a citation-and-release policy for eligible arrestees/detainees. Under Arkansas law, a sheriff has authority to “issue a citation in lieu of continued cus18

tody” for a detainee arrested for any misdemeanor. The citation is simply a written order requiring the arrestee to appear in court or at the jail at a specified date and time — like a traffic ticket typically does. We recommend Colin Jorgensen citation-and-release of misdeRisk Management meanor arrestees as a matter of Litigation Counsel policy, with exception (detention) only if there are special circumstances that make you believe a detainee is a threat to flee or to cause harm to himself or others upon release. Arkansas law also allows citation-and-release of felony arrestees/detainees, but only “upon the recommendation of a prosecuting attorney.” You can and should work with your prosecutor and seek a recommendation of citation-andrelease for any categories of felony arrestee that the prosecutor might authorize categorically, such as nonviolent felonies. With a prosecutor’s citation-and-release “recommendation” with respect to any individual felony detainee or category of felony detainees, cite-and-release some felony arrestees — with the same exceptions for flight risk or risk of harm to the arrestee or others. Fourth, have and follow an alternative commitments policy for convicted detainees. Inmates who have been convicted and are serving a sentence in the jail are eligible for alternative commitment at the sheriff’s discretion. Alternative commitment includes electronic monitoring (home confinement), weekends, community service (8 hours/day of sentence), or “any other lawful alternative to continual detention in the county jail that rehabilitates the convicted person or benefits the county when this does not conflict with any court orders.” Arkansas law allows the sheriff or his designee to enter into an agreement with a convicted detainee to serve the sentence by alternative commitment. If the convicted person fails to follow the conditions of alternative commitment, the sheriff/designee may cancel the agreement and return the convicted person to county jail. I have a sample alternative commitment agreement available for your consideration if you need it. As I said at the beginning, we strongly recommend that you implement policies to manage your jail population using the tools and legal authority available to sheriffs under Arkansas law — always. And especially during a pandemic. If you have any questions about the issues discussed above, please feel free to contact me at (501) 372-7947 or Thank you for your service, as always. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021



GuardianRFID: An important tool in county jails


he GuardianRFID Inmate Monitoring System is an invaluable tool used in county jails in Arkansas through the Association of Arkansas Counties Risk Management Fund (AACRMF) since 2014. Currently, 52 county jails and juvenile detention centers use the GuardianRFID system as a benefit of being members of the AACRMF. Four more facilities will be on board soon. The GuardianRFID system is a high-tech, user-friendly way to monitor and document everything an inmate does in real time. Jail personnel can track with ease where prisoners are; what they are doing; whether they had meals, medications, mail; and a host of other things. Jail staff use a device called the Spartan that is much like a smart phone to document cell checks, take pictures, and short videos. All this increases the level of documentation under the GuardianRFID system. It is stored in the cloud for easy access in case of litigation. I am incredibly proud of the work our jail personnel are doing using GuardianRFID. Many of our jail administrators and their staffs have embraced the system and all it can do. They have trained in their own jails. They have come to annual meetings to expand their training. Many counties have taken part in our Certified Training Officer program. This program makes it possible to have someone in each jail to train new staff and help with any questions from existing staff. Our jail personnel work hard to keep inmates, their coworkers, and the counties they serve safe. GuardianRFID helps make that happen in many ways. Beyond making the job easier, when lawsuits happen there is documentation to make the case more defensible. One inmate filed a lawsuit claiming the jail staff had starved him. GuardianRFID records were pulled, showing that he had refused meals twice during the time in question. The documentation was provided to the judge and the lawsuit never saw a courtroom. The equipment in the jails and the staff’s use of it are just two pieces of the puzzle. Another integral piece is the GuardianRFID staff. They are all knowledgeable, helpful, and willing to go the extra mile to make sure our county jails are taken care of. The GuardianRFID staff is only a phone call or email away. I have seen them talk through an issue on the phone and immediately make simple tweaks to a jail’s system setup that make a world of difference in solving the issue. They also have a website that is a onestop shop for information. There are how-to videos that can answer and explain just about any situation you might COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021

have. They post success stories to provide motivation and ideas for new ways to use the system. On top of all that, they regularly post blogs with more ideas, Becky Comet information, and instruction. AAC Member They have proven to be a Benefits Manager wonderful company to work with. The next event to come with GuardianRFID is our Annual Users’ Conference. The AAC will host this meeting at our building in Little Rock. Sheriffs, jail administrators, Certified Training Officers, and other available jail staff please save Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, for this meeting. It will be a day of training, sharing, fellowship, and, of course, food. Lunch will be provided. We will soon be sending more details about this meeting via email. In conclusion, let me brag just a little more on our jail personnel and how well they incorporate the GuardianRFID system in their jails. One of the things I do on a monthly basis is pull numbers that show how well our jails use the system — how compliant they are if you will. These compliance numbers are figured based on the percentage of checks the system expects to be done and how many checks are actually done. Here are the top 15 counties in the state based on the average of their compliance for the first six months of 2021. 1. Logan County — 174% 2. Calhoun County — 160% 3. Faulkner County — 138% 4. Pope County — 134% 5. Union County — 130% 6. Phillips County — 129% 7. Izard County — 125% 8. Garland County — 116% 9. Conway County — 112% 10. Marion County — 109% 11. Woodruff County — 105% 12. Cross County — 102% 13. Fulton County — 101% 14. Independence County — 97% 15. Nevada County — 97% Thank you to these and all of our county jails for your hard work and dedication. 19



— Photo from iStock

Helping the mentally ill Resources are needed to prevent the incarceration of the mentally ill and to get them the treatment they need.


Story By Cagney Kilgore and JORDYN NYKAZA AAC Law Clerks

he Arkansas Constitution, in Art. 19, § 19, mandates, “It shall be the duty of the General Assembly to provide by law for the support of institutions for the .... treatment of the insane.” While the language in this provision may seem outdated, the duty it bestows upon the legislature certainly is not. Arguably, the need for state-supported mental health services in Arkansas is greater today than it has ever been before in our state’s history. The mentally ill in Arkansas have urgent needs. We call upon the General Assembly to address our needs. Union County Jail Administrator Richard Mitchum describes the grim reality for many mentally ill individuals who do not have access to treatment: “Many of the mentally ill in Arkansas are placed into our county jails because there is nowhere else for them to go.” Often, hospitals will not treat mentally ill individuals unless they are a threat to themselves or others. Furthermore, out-patient facilities are not widely available in certain rural parts of the state and are cost20

prohibitive without insurance. As a result, county jails have become the landing pad for those individuals who have fallen through the cracks of Arkansas’ strained behavioral healthcare system. Sebastian County Sheriff Hobe Runion elaborates, “I run the largest mental health ward in the county.” Mitchum and Runion both believe jail is not the appropriate place to house someone with a mental illness because “they need help” and sitting in a jail worsens mental illness due to the isolation and harsh conditions inside. Arkansas has tools to help treat forensic patients, or those mentally ill individuals who are within the criminal justice system: the Arkansas State Hospital psychiatric beds, crisis stabilization units, and step-down beds. Unfortunately, these resources are in high demand and unequally distributed across the state, resulting in long wait times in county jails for a forensic bed at the State Hospital to become available.

Arkansas State Hospital Psychiatric Be and Step-Down Beds

As the sole state operated acute psychiatric inpatient hospital in the state, the Arkansas State Hospital (ASH) is the leading provider of mental health care services to forensic paCOUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021

AAC tients. As a result, ASH serves particularly vulnerable sectors of the population, including those who have been accused of a crime but are deemed unfit to stand trial and must undergo a restoration period before being reevaluated. Due to the nature of behavioral health treatment, the average length of stay at ASH is much longer than a traditional hospital stay, especially when treating patients with severe or chronic mental illness. Some patients require indefinite treatment, further reducing the number of available beds for patients requiring emergency treatment and those reserved for referrals by law enforcement. There are not enough psychiatric beds at ASH to meet the current demand. ASH beds have not been added since 2003, despite Arkansas’ roughly 3 percent population growth. There is always a waitlist for ASH, resulting in months-long wait times in county jails. Mitcham has seen inmates wait up to two years for a bed in ASH. The longer a mentally ill person sits in jail, the longer their treatment is delayed, and their condition often worsens. Sheriff Runion describes this process as a “revolving door.” As soon as someone is released from ASH prematurely, they often end up right back in the county jail again to rinse and repeat, says Sheriff Runion. Arkansas is ranked 46th in the United States for the number of state hospital beds per capita, falling far behind Mississippi, which is ranked 10th in the United States, according to a 2016 report



done by the Office of Research & Public Affairs. Surely, we can do better than 46th. Effective behavioral healthcare does not end with ASH. It is crucial that mentally ill individuals have access to behavioral healthcare and community support after release from ASH. This would help prevent a relapse, which would land them back inside. Facilities like Birch Tree Communities offer step down programs, which allow individuals living with mental illness to recover in a safe environment where their basic needs are met. They are monitored by trained mental health professionals. Birch Tree can serve around 440 people and provide access to group and family therapy, illness management, crisis intervention, educational opportunities, and other programs to better their lives. According to Jack Keathley, chief executive officer of Birch Tree Communities, stays can range from a few weeks to several years, with the goal of meaningful recovery. For some, this means reintegration into the community and for others, that means staying out of ASH. However, the growing demand for forensic beds in ASH has affected the ability of non-forensic patients to receive treatment. To try to alleviate the long wait lists in county jails, ASH has increased the number of beds in its facility reserved for forensic patient See


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Mental Illness

Continued From Page 23


awaiting evaluation, which means there are less psychiatric invest in diversion efforts from the criminal justice system, like beds available. Birch Tree receives almost half of its referrals Crisis Stabilization Units (CSUs). from ASH, and so as the number of psychiatric beds shrink in ASH, so does the number of people who have access to Birch Regional Crisis Stabilization Units Tree’s services through the referral system. A common theme Any good coach would tell you the best defense is a good ofis emerging — when mentally ill individuals are incarcerated fense, and that time-tested strategy will work in mitigating the instead of receiving treatment, everybody loses. mental healthcare crisis in Arkansas. Arkansas has made some A meaningful solution to this problem is three-fold: ASH needs progress on the front end by implementing regional CSUs in more psychiatric beds; Arkansas needs more step-down beds; and Washington, Sebastian, Pulaski, and Craighead counties. Rewe need more regional crisis stabilization units. It is imperative that gional CSUs are critical to Arkansas’ mental healthcare system we do not warehouse mentally ill individuals in the county jails. because they provide a place other than jail for someone to go In November 2019, county officials requested the Gover- when they are experiencing a mental crisis. The Governor and nor and General Assembly to address the urgent need for the General Assembly have partnered with the counties and more beds at ASH providers in these and more stepmajor undertakings. down beds. Gov. The average stay at e are thankful to the Governor and legislature for Asa Hutchinson ana CSU is 2.7 days, nounced the creation and unlike costly pushing Arkansas in the right direction toward of a working group outpatient centers, to study the circumno one is denied stregthening behavioral healthcare services. However, we stances and need treatment for lack for ASH psychiatric of health insurance. still have a long way to go. beds and step-down The average hand-off beds in Arkansas. time between a law Despite COVID-19, enforcement officer the working group and a CSU is five to met via Zoom several times during 2020. During the Arkan- 10 minutes, whereas wait times in the emergency room can sas Sheriffs Association Convention on Jan. 26, 2021, the be hours. Additionally, officers in counties with CSUs receive Governor announced the creation of another group to study Crisis Intervention Training, which trains them how to both the issue. We anticipate the study will confirm that Arkansas assess and help a person experiencing a mental crisis. Re-diis ranked 46th nationally in the number of psychiatric beds recting individuals to crisis units rather than jails is safer for at the state hospital. all involved and allows the patient to receive quality care until We need to note that the American Rescue Plan provides healthy enough to rejoin society. $1.57 billion in funding for the State of Arkansas and authoWe are thankful to the Governor and legislature for pushing rized the use of funds for the construction or expansion of pub- Arkansas in the right direction toward strengthening behaviorlic health facilities and their operations. This one-time funding al healthcare services. However, we still have a long way to go. provides a perfect opportunity to at least build or expand exist- Southern Arkansas counties are woefully underserved, as there ing behavioral health facilities for use by the State of Arkansas is no CSU below I-40. There is a disparity in the behavioral for ASH psychiatric beds and as well for the construction of healthcare services available there. When the State of Arkansas suitable facilities for use by providers for step-down beds. Let’s embarked on regional CSUs the State of Mississippi had eight use this one-time money for its intended purpose and rescue regional CSUs. Mississippi now has 15 regional CSUs, and we those with mental illness in Arkansas. are falling behind. Fortunately, law enforcement officers are There is no reason Arkansas should be ranked 46th in the permitted to take patients to any CSU and are not restricted United States per capita in the number of psychiatric beds to sending people to specific locations, a recent change anat the state hospital. We continue to respectfully request the nounced by the Governor’s office. However, stable and adeGeneral Assembly, Governor, and the Arkansas Department quate funding by the state is imperative to continue operating of Human Services (DHS) to take action to create more psy- the regional CSUs in Arkansas and to establish create new rechiatric and forensic beds at the state hospital and continue to gional CSUs throughout Arkansas.




AAC The numbers are clear: it is much more expensive to incarcerate the mentally ill than it is to treat them. Research from the Arkansas Public Policy Panel found the average cost of convicting and then incarcerating a mentally ill individual to be $30,000 in the first year alone. The cost ratio of incarcerating mentally ill individuals to running treatment centers is estimated to be roughly 20:1. The legislature passed Acts in 2019 and again in 2021 to create a legislative study on mental and behavioral health in Arkansas. So, there is ample data available to demonstrate the need for more behavioral health resources in Arkansas. Further action to address these priority issues is needed. We need to enlist legislators to champion these causes. County judges are eager to help and have seen firsthand the benefits of having a CSU in their county. According to Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde, in April and May of this year alone, more than 200 people were diverted from the county jail through the CSU, and this number continues to grow. “This shows that our officers, through training, are beginning to see the benefit of using the CSU instead of taking those in mental health crisis to the county jail,” Judge Hyde said. Judge Joseph Wood of Washington County believes Arkansas needs to keep this momentum going by securing a consistent funding mechanism for CSUs. “We have an annual fight for funding,” Judge Wood said.

This limits the potential for growth. However, he joins Judge Marvin Day of Craighead County in showing immense gratitude for the Governor and his staff for all the progress Arkansas has made so far in implementing the four regional CSUs. We are optimistic that with continued collaboration with behavioral health stakeholders, we can improve the lives of Arkansans struggling with mental illness. So, what would it mean to Arkansas to increase funding and beds? Joey Potts, director of the Sebastian County CSU, shares how she sees a success story every day. She said she recently witnessed the police bring in a homeless patient and shortly after, the patient was relocated to a residential care facility. If it were not for the CSU’s help, that individual may have been released back to homelessness where he would inevitably end up back in the criminal justice system. Dr. Lisa Evans, director of the Pulaski County CSU, shares a similar success story, in which a homeless patient was picked up by law enforcement and taken to her CSU. This patient had dementia and because of the CSU, was able to get immediate treatment and reunite with his family. These are just two examples of the good that comes from CSUs. Imagine how many more people in similar positions would be saved. We urge the Arkansas General Assembly to fulfill their mandate under the Arkansas Constitution to provide for the treatment of the mentally ill.


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Continue to ‘Back the Blue’ Many important pieces of legislation have been adopted by the General Assembly, but more can be done to aid law enforcement officers.



n 2020, Gov. Asa Hutchinson created the Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas. The Law Enforcement Task Force was designed with a two-pronged purpose. First, the task force was developed to identify the best methods for the recruitment, training, and retention of law enforcement officers in the state. Additionally, the task force was designed to provide insight and guidance on increasing trust between law enforcement and communities in Arkansas, while also recommending changes to improve policing. The task force was composed of a wide range of both community advocates and law enforcement representatives. After meeting for several months, 27 recommendations were given to the Governor by the collective task force. These recom24

mendations include changes in law enforcement training, programs, and practice that are focused on improving cultural, race, and community relations. The recommendations also suggested changes in law enforcement structure and benefits, including increasing the number of full-time officers in the police force compared to part-time officers, providing tax credits and exemptions for law enforcement officers, and improving law enforcement salaries in Arkansas.

Legislative Achievements

Many of the recommendations made by the task force required legislative approval. The General Assembly took many legislative actions designed to support law enforcement and to promote public safety. Some notable pieces of legislation designed to “Back the Blue” and to protect everyday Arkansans were passed by the General Assembly and signed into law. We are thankful for the General Assembly’s leadership in passing COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021

AAC these priorities. These important pieces of legislation include:

Act 778: Record Retention and FOIA on Body Cameras, Audio, Video, and Audiovisual Media

Act 778 started as SB346 and was sponsored by Sen. Jason Rapert and Rep. Rick Beck. SB346 was designed to provide uniformity and clarity to the law concerning body camera retention, the use of audio and visual media for law enforcement, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Under Act 778, criminal investigation documentation, audio, video, and audiovisual media are given specific retention periods. Law enforcement and detention centers are also encouraged to use audio, visual, and audiovisual media. Furthermore, clear guidelines were established for FOIA requests related to electronic records and law enforcement.

Act 786: The Public Safety Equipment Grant Program

SB292 was the beginning of Act 786, sponsored by Sen. Jason Rapert and Rep. Danny Watson. Act 786 establishes the Public Safety Equipment Grant Fund, which is to be managed by the Arkansas Department of Public Safety. The Secretary of the Department of Public Safety is given the power to grant money to local law enforcement to be used to provide equipment that is non-lethal and that contributes to greater transparency and communication between law enforcement agencies, detention centers, or corrections agencies and communities in Arkansas. These grants can be used for equipment, training, and accreditation. Act 786 does not establish a line of funding for the grants and relies on surplus funding to be allocated to the grant fund.

Act 946: Parole Prohibition for Violent Felons

Act 946 is rooted in SB300, which was sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Dismang and Rep. Keith Slape. SB300 was drafted to address the current violent crime rate. According to a study conducted by financial news and opinion company 24/7 Wall Street, Arkansas has one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation with 543.6 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Additionally, Arkansas ranks as the fourth most dangerous state in the United States. Act 946 is designed to address this issue by narrowing and prohibiting parole for certain offenses. Act 946 expands on the crimes and re-offenses for which parole is prohibited to include those with a prior felony conviction who are prohibited from possessing a firearm and who unlawfully use a firearm to commit a violent offense.

Act 765: To Establish the Law Enforcement Family Relief Trust Fund

Act 765, sponsored by Sen. Missy Irvin and Rep. Mark Berry, began as HB1360 and established the Law Enforcement COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021


Relief Trust Fund. The Law Enforcement Relief Trust Fund will be used to provide financial assistance to the families of certified Arkansas law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty or diagnosed with a terminal illness by a medical professional. This fund will be used to help provide relief to their financial hardship. The fund will be supported by individual taxpayers who designate all or a portion of their income tax refund to be withheld and paid into the fund.

Unaddressed Needs of Arkansas Law Enforcement

While the General Assembly made great strides in supporting our law enforcement, progress remains to be made in a few key areas. Bills to address these needs were filed. However, they unfortunately were not passed by the General Assembly. These needs should be a priority for future legislative sessions and should be addressed by legislative action. This fall, lawmakers will return to the Arkansas State Capitol to address redistricting. At this time, we believe the Governor will call a special session to address potential income tax cuts and tax proposals. This presents an opportune time to show our support for Arkansas law enforcement by passing those bills that did not reach the Governor’s desk for later this year.

SB304: Income Tax Credit for Full-Time Law Enforcement Officers

SB304 was sponsored by Sen. Jason Rapert and Rep. Keith Slape. SB304 was written to provide an income tax credit for certain law enforcement officers. This tax credit is desperately needed, as Arkansas ranks 49th in mean annual wages for law enforcement and 45th in the recent “Best State to Be a Cop” rankings. Additionally, data from Career Explorer identifies the average starting pay for police officers in Arkansas to be barely above that of a minimum wage worker, averaging around $23,129 per year. This is despite Arkansas facing the 47th highest violent-crime rate in the nation and being the fourth most dangerous state in the United States. Under SB304, full-time law enforcement officers would be allowed a tax credit totaling $3,000 and not exceeding the amount due on their state income tax. Verification would be required before a full-time law enforcement officer may qualify for the tax credit. Full-time law enforcement officers, who are not the chief law enforcement officer of a law enforcement agency, would be required to obtain written verification signed by their immediate supervisor and their respective chief law enforcement officer. Similarly, chief law enforcement officers would also have to obtain verification. However, this verification would have to be signed by the second most senior law enforcement officer and payroll clerk of the law enforcement agency. SB304 did not become law this session and was recomSee

“BLUE” on

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mended for study by the Senate Interim Committee on Revenue and Tax. Upon return of lawmakers this Fall, enacting this tax credit should be a priority. This tax credit offers many benefits, including providing economic security for law enforcement working in one of the lowest paying states and promoting both retention and future recruitment. The General Assembly has recently indicated support for similar proposals. For example, HB1513 was passed by the General Assembly with unanimous support. Sponsored by Rep. Jon Eubanks and Sen. Jonathan Dismang, HB1513 establishes a maximum tax credit of $3,500 for retired law enforcement officers who work cold cases for the Division of Arkansas State Police. If a retired law enforcement officer works at least 1,000 hours investigating one or more cold cases, they may claim the full $3,500 tax credit. Those retired law enforcement officers who spend less than 1,000 hours investigating one or more cold cases qualify for a prorated tax credit reflecting the number of hours worked investigating one or more cold cases. Tax credits are given to those who apply for an eligibility certificate on a “first come first serve” basis and a limited total amount of $25,000 can be awarded by the Division of Arkansas State Police each fiscal year. HB1513 received 96 votes in the House and 34 votes in the Senate. Upon signing, HB1513 became Arkansas law as Act 841. There was unanimous consensus among legislators that Act 841 is expected to provide appreciation and support for retired law enforcement who continue to selflessly serve Arkansans, while doing so with minimal fiscal impact. With such widespread support for Act 841, there is no reason SB304 establishing tax credits for full-time law enforcement officers should not become Arkansas law.

Counties and Law Enforcement Pay

The Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas looked at entry level salaries for county law enforcement officers and evaluated officer pay in different county size classifications. This provides a solid comparison of entry level salaries for county law enforcement as compared to similar peers. Generally, the entry level salary for law enforcement increases incrementally as the size of the county increases. However, counties with a population of 50,000 to 69,999 do show a slight decrease in salaries compared to those for entry level law enforcement in counties with 30,000 to 49,999 people. This is the only exception to the general trend of entry level salaries increasing with a county’s population size. Critically, entry level salaries for law enforcement officers in every different county size fell well below the average salary in the state of Arkansas. Further research by the Arkansas Department of 26


Commerce identified this problem to be pervasive at every single level of employment for law enforcement in our state, with these salaries all being lower than the Arkansas average. The average entry level salary for law enforcement in each different county classification is as follows: County Population

Average Entry Average Salary Salary for the State

0 to 9,999



10,000 to 19,999



20,000 to 29,999



30,000 to 49,999



50,000 to 69,999



70,000 to 199,999 $37,094.14





These findings have led the task force to recommend increasing entry level salaries for law enforcement officers to a minimum level of pay that is at least equal to the average salary in Arkansas, phasing in salary increases for officers to match their service history, rank, and responsibilities; and providing income tax deductions for full-time law enforcement officers. All of these policy recommendations should be taken into great consideration by all levels of government and implemented as soon as possible.

Solutions to Assist Law Enforcement

One solution that can be used to assist our brave law enforcement officers would be a raise for county employees through our county quorum courts. These raises would directly benefit law enforcement employed by the county by putting more money in their pockets. Law enforcement officers in Arkansas clearly deserve a raise. The average entry level average salary and later salary for Arkansas law enforcement officers falls behind the state’s average salary. Officers work long hours for subpar wages in our nation’s fourth most dangerous state while risking their lives every day. Another solution to help “Back the Blue,” would be the passing of an income tax credit for full-time law enforcement officers. The benefits of such a proposal are numerous, including raising the yearly disposable income of our officers and their families. This is needed as entry level county law enforceCOUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021

AAC ment officers in counties of every size fall well below the average salary in Arkansas and as officers in Arkansas continue to be paid at a mean wage that is among the lowest in the United States. As mentioned, this tax credit was proposed in the latest legislative session yet failed. The upcoming session this fall would be an opportune time to implement this policy. Lastly, we need to ensure our law enforcement officers receive immediate assistance. This can be done quickly by counties assigning premium pay to county employees who are essential workers (including law enforcement). This premium pay is authorized to be assigned under the American Rescue Plan. Under the American Rescue Plan, qualifying workers may receive up to $13 an hour in premium pay, with a cap of $25,000 in total premium pay per worker. The premium pay can apply to past work performed during the pandemic and future work conducted over the course of COVID-19. This pay is primarily designed to be given to essential workers who earn lower incomes. However, pay can be given to workers earning at least 50 percent more than the average wage in the state with more rigorous reporting requirements. With entry level salaries for law enforcement deputies in Arkansas being well below the average Arkansas salary and experienced officers of different ranks also earning below the average state salary, premium pay under the American Rescue Plan could easily be applied to our county law enforcement officers. County Judge Jimmy Hart from Conway County and the Conway County Quorum Court have adopted an ordinance for premium or hazard pay for county employees and law enforcement. Judge Hart noted, “Premium pay helps us to compensate our folks and do what other entities have done to show our appreciation for what they have endured.” These recommended policies would assist law enforcement,





while offering numerous benefits for law enforcement agencies, the public, and officers themselves. For instance, the most cited challenge in recruiting new officers was found to low salaries, with 89.2 percent of respondents indicating this barrier. Similarly, low salary was the most cited explanation for difficulty in officer retainment, with this issue being indicated by 95.9 percent of respondents.


Despite working one of the most dangerous jobs in the nation for low pay and lacking benefits, our law enforcement officers in Arkansas courageously continue to wear the badge every day. While great strides supporting police were made in the most recent meeting of the General Assembly, much needed progress remains. The upcoming special session and the budgets of counties should prioritize law enforcement and their standard of living across the State of Arkansas.


• Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas Final Report ( wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Final-LE-Task-ForceReport-12012020-002.pdf ) • Best & Worst States to Be a Police Officer ( • Dangerous states: Which states have the highest rates of violent crime and most murders? (https://www.usatoday. com/story/money/2020/01/13/most-dangerous-statesin-america-violent-crime-murder-rate/40968963/)

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AAC names 2021 scholarship recipients


Students will study business, biology, and more.

he Association of Arkansas Counties has announced its 2021 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 2021: the County Judges Association of Arkansas, the Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association, the Arkansas County Treasurers Association, the Arkansas County Clerks Association, Arkansas Coroners Association, Arkansas Association of Quorum Courts, Arkansas Sheriffs Association, Arkansas County Tax Collectors Association, and the Arkansas County Assessors Association.

Paige Francis

Lindsey Logan

Paige Francis — Paige is a senior at the University of Arkansas, where she is studying kinesiology with minors in child advocacy and medical humanities. She plans to pursue a doctorate of occupational therapy at Washington University in St. Louis. Her mother, Heather Francis, works for the juvenile court in Benton County.

Lindsey Logan — Lindsey is a junior 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. Melanie Purifoy — Melanie, a 2021 graduate of Camden Fairview High School, is the daughter of Jarrod Purifoy, who works in the Ouachita County Sheriff’s office. Melanie plans to attend Henderson State University and pursue a degree in biology.

Layton Casey

Layton Casey — Layton is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in accounting. He is the son of Angela Casey, who is a deputy treasurer in the Faulkner County Treasurer’s office. 28

Lexie Ruth Freeman

Lexie Ruth Freeman — Lexie is a 2021 graduate of Hamburg High School. She plans to attend the University of Arkansas at Monticello and work toward a degree in biochemistry. She is the granddaughter of Ashley County Treasurer Stacey Brashears.

Eva Nicole Richardson COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021

AAC Eva Nicole Richardson — Eva Nicole is a 2021 graduate of Lonoke High School. Her grandmother, Catherine Richardson, served as Bradley County Circuit Clerk for 20 years. Eva Nicole plans to attend the University of Mississippi, where she will pursue a degree in exercise science (pre-med).

Noah Worley — Noah is the grandson of retired Bradley County Circuit Clerk Catherine Lee Richardson, who served for 20 years. This fall he will be a fifth-year senior at Ouachita Baptist University, where he is studying accounting. He is working to obtain enough hours to sit for the CPA exam.

Brooklyn Waller

Jacey Howerton

Brooklyn Waller — Brooklyn, a freshman at the University of Arkansas, is the daughter of Angela Drummond, who works in the Saline County Judge’s Office. She is majoring in pre-nursing. Meagan Whittenburg — Meagan, a 2021 graduate of Atkins High School, is the granddaughter of Pope County Justice of the Peace Tim Whittenburg. She plans to attend Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, where she will study biological sciences.

Jacey Howerton — Jacey is the recipient of the Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship. She is a freshman at the University of Central Arkansas, where she is majoring in communications and science disorders. She is the stepdaughter of Carroll County Justice of the Peace Craig Hicks. 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.

Noah Worley

Zack Lawson



Zack Lawson — Zack is the recipient of the Matt Morris Scholarship. Zack is a 2021 graduate of Bigelow High School and the son of Rena Lawson, who works in the Perry County Circuit Clerk’s office. Zack will attend the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton to study 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.

Peyton Powell

Peyton Powell — Peyton is the recipient of the inaugural Jonathan Greer Memorial Scholarship. She is a 2021 graduate of Caddo Hills High School and the daughter of Montgomery County Justice of the Peace Melissa Powell. Peyton plans to pursue a degree in education at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. Jonathan Greer was a staff attorney of the Association when he tragically passed away and the Quorum Court Association established the Jonathan Greer Memorial Scholarship in his memory to be awarded each year to a deserving student. 29



AAC Executive Director Chris Villines (left) and AAC Board President and Randolph County Circuit Clerk Debbie Wise (right) present the 2021 Wes Fowler Advocacy Award to Conway County Judge Jimmy Hart during the 53rd Annual AAC Conference.

Conway County Judge receives 2021 Wes Fowler Advocacy Award


Story by Christy L. Smith Photos by Holland Doran AAC Communications Staff

he Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) awarded the 2021 Wes Fowler Advocacy Award during its 53rd annual conference, held Aug. 1820, 2021, in Rogers/Benton County. Conway County Judge and AAC Board Secretary/Treasurer Jimmy Hart received the award, which 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.” Hart was elected judge in 2000. He is a third generation farmer. His farm, Hart & Sons LLC, which he runs with 30

two of his sons, is a 915-acre operation that Hart calls his “side hustle.” In 1991, Hart formed the Arkansas Dairy Cooperative Association to aid in marketing milk produced in Arkansas to out of state buyers. In 2014, his family was named Conway County Farm Family of the Year. The Wes Fowler Advocacy Award was established in 2017 following the death of Fowler, who served as Madison County Clerk and Madison County Judge before finishing his career at the AAC as Government Relations Director. In her presentation, Wise said, “The thing about Wes that stood out to all of us was his passion for advocacy — and the boldness with which he defended county government. The second thing that struck me about Wes, and I’m sure many COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021

Left: Wes Fowler was a tireless advocate for county government who passed away suddenly in 2017. of you as well, was that when he became your friend, he was extremely loyal and cared deeply about you.” The Advocacy Award is given annually to a county or district official that has exhibited great passion for advocacy over the previous year. The AAC Board of Directors Scholarship Committee selects the recipient of the award. Recipients receive an Arkansas County Diamond Award and are honored in perpetuity at the AAC with a permanently placed plaque and names added each year. Past recipients of the Wes Fowler Advocacy Award are retired Columbia County Clerk Sherry Bell, former Randolph County Treasurer and AAC Executive Director (now consultant) Eddie A. Jones, Madison County Judge Frank Weaver, and Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder. Randolph County Circuit Clerk and AAC Board President Debbie Wise and AAC Executive Director Chris Villines presented the 2021 award to Judge Hart. Wise called Judge Hart “an unassuming and humble person.” Villines said, “Jimmy has been an incredible ambassador for county government. He has been instrumental in making Conway County a better place to live. He’s currently working on increasing broadband internet access from 80 percent to 100 percent of the county, and he implemented county-wide spring and fall cleanups that have continued for 20 years.” Villines went on the recognize the work Judge Hart has done during legislative sessions. “He has worked hard for our counties on difficult issues such as 911 funding and levee legislation. He has offered his leadership within the county judges association as president from 2010-2011.” Judge Hart is a native of Conway County. He graduated from Morrillton High School. He and his wife of 43 years, Nancy, have four children and eight grandchildren. They reside in Springfield, Arkansas. Judge Hart is an ex-officio member of the Conway County Economic Development Corporation and the Morrilton Area Chamber of Commerce Board. He is chairman of the West River Valley Regional Solid Waste Management District, chief executive officer of the Local West Central Arkansas Workforce Investment Board, a member of the Universal Housing Executive Board, a member of the Conway County Cattleman’s Association, a member of Conway County Farm Bureau, and a member of the Kiwanis Club of Morrilton.




Counties say ‘The Show Must Go On’ Conference brings counties together for time of education, connection


rkansas county officials and employees gathered for a week of education, discussion and connection at the 2021 AAC Conference, “The Show Must Go On,” in Rogers, Benton County, Aug. 18-20. AAC hosted more than 500 attendees at the Rogers Convention Center where they heard from dignitaries including Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, U.S. Sen. John Boozman, and National Association of Counties (NACo) Past-President and Boone County, Kentucky, Judge Gary Moore. State legislators also attended the conference, including members of the Arkansas Senate and House City, County, and Local Affairs Committees. Attorney with Cory Watson Attorneys, Jerome Tapley, presented an update on the litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors. AAC offered concurrent sessions on a host of timely topics such as the American Rescue Plan funding for counties, jail training, cybersecurity and human resources. Attendees were entertained by Comedy Magician Scott Davis, treated to music by Ashtyn Barbaree, and enjoyed food and activities during the conference dinner and dance, “Lights, Camera, AACTION!”





1) AAC Board of Directors President Debbie Wise (center) welcomes conference attendees. Left from top to bottom: U.S. Rep. John Boozman (top) and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (bottom). 2) Debbie Wise and AAC Executive Director (left) greets Gov. Hutchinson. 3) Executive Director Chris Villines. 4) Boone County, Kentucky Judge/Executive and National Association of Counties Past President Gary Moore. 5) Benton County Circuit Clerk and AAC Board Member Brenda DeShields, Polk County Judge, AAC Board Vice-President Brandon Ellison and Gov. Hutchinson.











13 14



7) Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison. 8) Debbie Wise, U.S. Rep. John Boozman and Benton County Circuit Clerk and AAC Board member Brenda DeShields. 9) Cory Watson Attorney Jerome Tapley. 10) Saline County Coroner and AAC Board member Kevin Cleghorn. 11) AAC Governmental Affairs Director Josh Curtis and Rep. Boozman. 12) Rep. Boozman and Pulaski County Coroner and AAC Board member Gerone Hobbs. 12) AAC RMF Legal Counsel Colin Jorgensen. 14) Vocalist Kennedy Holland. 15) Lawrence County Judge John Thomison and Gov. Hutchinson. 16) Sebastian County Judge David Hudson.















1) AAC Executive Director Chris Villines. 2) Sen. Jason Rapert, Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd, Arkansas Sheriffs Association Executive Director Scott Bradley, Rep. Keith Slape and Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder. 3) Chairmen of the Senate and House City, County, and Local Affairs Committee Arkansas Rep. Lannie Fite and Sen. Gary Stubblefield. 4) Rep. John Carr and AAC Chief Legal Counsel Mark Whitmore. 5) Chris Villines and Rep. Josh Bryant. 6) Sen. Dan Sullivan and Sheriff Boyd. 7) Sebastian County Justice of the Peace Danny Aldridge and Boone County Justice of the Peace David Thompson. 8) AAC Governmental Affairs Director Josh Curtis leads a panel discussion including Sen. Jim Hendren, Sen. Lance Eads, Rep. Austin McCollum, Rep. Megan Godfrey, Rep. Delia Haak and Rep. Josh Bryant. 9) Rainwater, Holt and Sexton Attorney Mike Rainwater. 10) Lindsey Holman with Holman Strategies. 34




11 12

13 14 17







15 11) Comedy magician Scott Davis and White County Tax Collector Beth Dorton. 12) AAC Member Benefits Manager (second from left) leads walkers in the annual conference Wellness Walk. 13) AAC RMF Counsels Camille Neemann and Brandy McCallister, and Sebastian County Judge David Hudson. 14) Crittenden County Chief Deputy Collector Betty Palmer, CFO Tawanna Brown, Deputy Technician Brown and Deputy Clerk Patrick Robinson. 15) Arkansas County Assessor Marcia Theis, Deputy Clerk Kaye Fletcher, Appraiser DJ Watkins and Clerk Melissa Wood. 16) Singers Ashtyn Barbaree and Jacob Campbell. 17) Sebastian County Deputy Clerk Nesa Bishop, Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson and Sebastian County Clerk Sharon Brooks. 18) Hempstead County Treasurer Judy Harris, County Assessor Kim Smith, Deputy County Clerk Nanci Barnes and County Clerk Karen Smith.19) Saline County Justices of the Peace Pat Bisbee and Tammy Schmidt. 20) Cybersecurity Advisor Mark Kirby. 21) International Police Defensive Tactics Institute Director Christopher Blackwell. 22) Lincoln County Chief Deputy Assessor Amy Chastain and Assessor Amy Harrison. 35



AAC hosts Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament


ore than 30 golfers teed off at The Creeks Golf Resort in Cave Springs Aug. 17, 2021, to raise money for the Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Fund. Kemp was the AAC’s first communications director. He joined AAC in 2008 after a successful career in newspapers. He died in a motorcycle accident in August 2011. The Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship aims to raise funds for scholarships for descendants of county officials or employees who intend to pursue a college degree in communications. The 2021 Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship was awarded to University of Central Arkansas freshman Jacey Howerton. She is the step-daughter of Carroll County Justice of the Peace Craig Hicks. AAC extends its appreciation those who support the fund, the golfers and sponsors.

AAC Governmental Affairs Director and tournament organizer Josh Curtis

Far left: Aaron Gardner and Hank Hoggard. Left: Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder and AAC Chief Legal Counsel Mark Whitmore.




Tournament results First Flight 1st - Jamie Barker & Chase Dugger 2nd - Josh Longmire & Richard Rogers 3rd - Darryl Gardner & Jeremiah Thompson


Darryl Gardner with Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions

Second Flight 1st - Aaron Gardner & Hank Hoggard 2nd - Patrick Hardy & David Rivera 3rd - Devin Griggs & Tim Wyse

Datascout COO Cory Scott

Long Drive Winner Jamie Barker Putting Contest Winner Devin Griggs

JCD Consulting CEO Chase Dugger and Director of Business Development Jamie Barker, and Datascout Director of Sales Phillip Carper

Closest to the Pin Winner Richard Rogers Jefferson County Tax Collector Tony Washington

Sponsors Platinum Sponsors Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions Correct Solutions Group Gold Sponsors JCD Consulting Keystone Solutions AR Buy Jason Owens Law Firm Turn Key Health Silver Sponsors Arkansas Sheriffs Association Delta Mass Appraisal Services National Medtest 1st Arkansas Bail Bonds

Hole Sponsors

AAC Executive Director Chris Villines, Craighead County Judge Marvin Day, and Craighead County Justices of the Peace Richard Rogers and Josh Longmire Jeremiah Thompson

Patrick Hardy with Apprentice Information Systems

Arkansas CAMA Technology Datascout, LLC Apprentice Information Systems





Thank you to our 2021 Exhibitors and Sponsors!

(501) 682-0655

AAA Business Systems, Inc. 2715 North Drake Street Fayetteville, AR 72703 (479) 442-4185 AAC Risk Management 1415 West Third Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 372-7550

Arkansas Chapter of NIGP P.O. Box 76 Little Rock, AR 72203 (479) 236-8605 Arkansas Department of Transportation P.O. Box 2261 Little Rock, AR 72203 (501) 410-2204 Arkansas Farm Bureau P.O. BOX 31 Little Rock, AR 72203 (501) 228-1305 www.ARFB.COM

(800) 834-7674 Blue Sky Technologies 5510 Southwest Drive, Suite 9 Jonesboro, AR 72404 (870) 933-2583 Clear Energy P.O. Box 9118 Fayetteville, AR 72703 (501) 200-7017

Little Rock, AR 72202 (501) 944-3725 EZ Street Cold Patch Asphalt 69 Huntington Drive Greenbrier, AR 72058 (870) 307-2279

Fairfield Bay Conference Center 110 Lost Creek Parkway Fairfield Bay, AR 72088 Commissioner of State (501) 215-7136 Lands ACT 500 Woodlane Ave., Ste. 38 W. Trenton Blvd., Ste. 109 FBT Bank & Mortgage 101 Little Rock, AR 72201 7199 Sheridan Road Fayetteville, AR 72701 (501) 362-4275 White Hall, AR 71602 (479) 790-3242 (870) 247-9700 Asphalt Zipper, Inc. DataPath Administrative ADEM-AR Federal 831 East 340 South, Ste. Services FirstNet Surplus Property 250 1601 Westpark Drive, 208 S. Akard 8700 Remount Road American Fork, UT 84003 Ste. 6 Dallas, TX 75202 N. Little Rock, AR 72118 (888) 947-7378 Little Rock, AR 72204 (214) 208-9890 (501) 835-3111 (501) 851-0259 Auditor of State Friday, Eldredge & Clark American Stamp & 500 Woodlane Ave., Ste. DataScout,LLC 400 W. Capitol Ave., Ste. Marking Products, Inc. 230 38 W Trenton Blvd., 2000 6319 Brookfield Place Little Rock, AR 72201 Ste. 101 Little Rock, AR 72201 Alma, AR 72921 (501) 682-6000 Fayetteville, AR 72701 (501) 370-1455 (479) 651-0072 (479) 521-5607 Axis Communications Gee Asphalt Systems, Inc. Apprentice Information 433 E. Las Colinas Blvd., Delta Mass Appraisal 4715 6th St SW Systems, Inc. Suite 600 Services, Inc. Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 900 N. Dixieland Road Irving, TX 75039 P.O. Box 504 (319) 366-8567 Rogers, AR 72756 (501) 388-4838 England, AR 72046 (479) 631-8054 (501) 803-0500 www.deltamassappraisal. GeoConex Best Friends Animal com 6923 Maynardville Pike AR Secretary of State Society PMB 109 500 Woodlane Ave., Ste. 839 Law Lane Eagle Forestry Services, Inc. Knoxville, TN 37918 256 Mount Pleasant, SC 29464 360 Airport Rd (865) 686-0411 Little Rock, AR 72201 (843) 323-7000 Monticello, AR 71655 (501) 682-3504 (870) 460-9994 Greenfeather Monitoring BHC Insurance Arkansas 811 305 W. Central 5500 Euper Lane 2120 Maple Ridge Circle Employer Support of the Wichita, KS 67202 Fort Smith, AR 72903 Conway, AR 72034 Guard and Reserve (316) 425-4505 (479) 452-4000 (501) 472-1005 223 Center Point Loop Vilonia, AR 72173 Guardian RFID (501) 212-4018 6900 Wedgewood Road BIS Digital, Inc. Arkansas Brownfield N., Ste. 325 1350 NE 56th Street, Ste. Program Maple Grove, MN 55311 300 5301 Northshore Dr Energy Transfer (855) 777-7343 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334 N. Little Rock, AR 72118 2300 Cottondale Lane


Homeland Safety Systems, Inc. 724 W 61st St Shreveport, LA 71106 (337) 303-8569 iCounty Technologies 1700 SW US 40 Hwy., Suite 102 Blue Springs, MO 64015 (816) 295-1540 Information Network of Arkansas 425 W. Capitol Ave, Ste. 1620 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 414-3367 Innovative Industrial Solutions, Inc. 2830 Skyline Drive Russellville, AR 72802 (479) 857-6201 IOne Benefits Group 1576 Monteith, Suite B Hernando, MS 38632 (870) 926-9651 J & R Environnemental Truck Sales 508 Autumnwood Drive Russellville, AR 72802 (479) 445-8896 Jason Owens Law Firm, PA 1023 Main St., Suite 204 Conway, AR 72032 (501) 764-4334 JTS Financial 1616 Brookwood Dr Little Rock, AR 72202 (501) 227-0194 Keep Arkansas Beautiful 2300 Cottondale Lane Little Rock, AR 72202 (870) 917-7819


AAC Kofile 6300 Cedar Springs Rd Dallas, TX 75235 (505) 795-6627

National Association of Counties (NACo) 660 North Capitol St. NW Washington, DC 20001 (610) 909-8764 Level 5 Architecture Nationwide Retirement 326 Holcomb St Solutions Springdale, AR 72764 5519 Arapaho Road, #308 (479) 279-8400 Dallas, TX 75248 www.level5architecture. (470) 216-6872 com Lift Truck Service NextEra Energy Resources Center, Inc. 700 Universe Blvd. 12829 Interstate 30 Juno Beach, FL 33408 Little Rock, AR 72209 (605) 237-2294 (501) 568-3330 Mass Enthusiasm, Inc. 11523 Kanis Road, Suite A Little Rock, AR 72211 (501) 658-5726 McClelland Consulting Engineers, Inc. 7302 Kanis Rd Little Rock, AR 72204 (501) 371-0272 McKinstry 4201 Spring Valley Rd., #250 Farmers Branch, TX 75244 (512) 539-8087 Moser Corporation P.O. Box 1984 601 N. 13th Street Rogers, AR 72757 (479) 636-3481 www.mosercorporation. com N·FORM Architecture 312 W. Commercial Springfield, MO 65804 (417) 873-2255 Nabholz/Entegrity 3301 N. 2nd Rogers, AR 72757 (479) 659-7834

Office of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge 323 Center Tower Bldg., Suite 200 Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 682-3645 Pafford Medical Services 3509 W. 16th Street Hope, AR 71801 (870) 703-8205 Paymentus 13024 Ballantyne Corporate Place, Ste. 450 Charlotte, NC 28277 (704) 806-3110 Periscope Holdings/ ARBuy 7915 Highway 300 Roland, AR 72135 (501) 837-5109 www.periscopeholdings. com/arbuy Pettus Office Products 2 Freeway Drive Little Rock, AR 72204 (817) 821-4635 Purple Wave Auction 825 Levee Dr. Manhattan, KS 66502 (785) 766-6945


Raymond James 1100 Ridgeway Loop Road Memphis, TN 38120 (901) 531-3347 Records Consultants, Inc. 12829 Wetmore Rd San Antonio, TX 78247 (210) 366-4127 Red River Specialties LLC 308 S. University Ave., Apt 2502 Little Rock, AR 72205 (870) 450-5868 Revival Architecture, Inc. 7500 Bayou Dr. Scott, AR 72142 (501) 951-2080 RMC of America P.O. Box 21030 White Hall, AR 71612 (870) 543-2190 Ryburn Law Firm 650 S. Shackleford, Ste. 231 Little Rock, AR 72211 (501) 228-8100 Service Wing Organic Solutions, LLC 1611 N 164th E Ave. Tulsa, OK 74116 (918) 406-3713 SouthBuild, LLC 108 E. Mulberry St. Collierville, TN 38017 (901) 457-7688 Southern Paramedic Service P.O. Box 88 Brinkley, AR 72021 (870) 480-6211 www.southernparamedic. com Southern Tire Mart LLC 800 Hwy. 98 Columbia, MS 39429

(877) 786-4681 Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) 400 W. Capitol Ave., Ste. 1610 Little Rock, AR 72201 (888) 216-3523 Stephanie’s Selections 1209 NW 14th Place Moore, OK 73170 (405) 361-2200 Sutterfield Technologies, Inc. 101 North 14th Street Duncan, OK 73533 (580) 786-4390 System Solutions P.O. Box 1231 Dover, AR 72837 (479) 747-5860 www.systemsolutionsar. com Telogix 400 W. Capitol, 17th Floor Little Rock, AR 72201 (479) 312-2622 The Garland Company, Inc. 3800 East 91st Street Cleveland, OH 44105 (216) 641-7500 Tiger Correctional Services 515 W. Washington Ave Jonesboro, AR 72401 (877) 844-3726 Time Striping P.O. Box 1236 Van Buren, AR 72957 (479) 651-4616 Total Assessment Solutions Corporation 272 Hwy 70 E Glenwood, AR 71943 (870) 356-4511

COVER STORY Turn Key Health 2593 Baughman Cutoff Harrison, AR 72601 (870) 391-6555 www.turnkeyhealthclinics. com Tyson Foods 2200 Don Tyson Parkway, CP003 Springdale, AR 72762 (479) 270-4470 University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture 2301 S. University Ave. Little Rock, AR 72204 (501) 671-2156 Univo Data, Inc. 401 S. Chestnut St. Morrilton, AR 72110 (501) 208-6198 US Imaging, Inc. 400 S. Franklin Street Saginaw, MI 48607 (989) 753-7933 Wilson Culverts, Inc. P.O. Box 940 Elkhart, TX 75839 (903) 764-5605 Winthrop Rockefeller Institute 1 Rockefeller Drive Morrilton, AR 72110 (501) 727-5435 Young & Associates 1513 Petal Court Argyle, TX 76226 (770) 940-0946 Your Disinfection Connection 1101 Mallard, Suite D Bentonville, AR 72712 (479) 586-4253


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PARALEGAL — Tosha Taylor

Education: I graduated from James Madison High School in San Diego. I am a certified immigration paralegal by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and have 16 years experience. I spent half of that time as a litigation paralegal going to trial on medical malpractice defense cases. Where are you from: I was born in Harrison, Boone County, and lived on 20 acres in the mountains near Oxley. When I was 11, we moved to San Diego. Then, I moved back home to Arkansas at 25. My favorite meal: I love eating good food – anything homemade.

At the top of my bucket list is to: I want to travel the world. You might be surpised to learn that: I am a bibliophile. My pet peeve is: I try not to have pet peeves. Life is too short to be bothered with anything, in my humble opinion.

Tosha T aylor

When I’m not working I’m: I am a member of an amateur rowing team, Rock City Rowing, which is nationally recognized by USRowing.

The accomplishments of which I am most proud: I am proud to be part of a team defending doctors in court. It’s


an amazing feeling knowing that you were instrumental in preventing judgements against the client.

How long have you been at the AAC, and what did you do before? I started on Aug. 23, 2021 as a paralegal. Previously, I was an immigation paralegal at Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon and Galchus, PC. What projects are you working on now? I am working on Section 1983 lawsuits, auto litigation and US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission




Education: I graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration. I’m now going into my second year at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen Law School.

Arts at graduation. At the top of my bucket list is to: I really don’t have a bucket list, but I would love to attend the Olympics at some point in my life. Gymnastics or figure skating would be my top choices.

Family information: I was born and raised in Malvern, and I live with my mom and dad, Sam and Pam. I am an only child, but our house certainly isn’t quiet because we have a talkative Goldendoodle named Alfalfa. He is my best friend in the world. My favorite meal: My perfect meal would consist of chicken salad with chips and queso on the side, and a donut for dessert.

What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever done? The most difficult things I have done is attending law school during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was hard transitioning to online learning, and it felt lonely at times because I couldn’t get to know my classmates. But, I am excited for the new friendships I will make when we are in-person again.

Cagney Kilgroe

When I’m not working: I am probably playing with Alfalfa outside, working in my garden, or taking a nap. The accomplishments of which I am most proud: I’m most proud of receiving the President’s Medallion at UCA. Only one student from each college receives the award, so I am honored to be selected to represent the College of Liberal

You might be surpised to learn that: I can play saxophone. I played throughout high school and college, and I still do. My pet peeve is: People tailgating me in traffic. How long have you been at the AAC, and what did you do before? I started in May 2021. I just finished cowriting an article for the magazine about forensic mental health resources. Next, I am working on updating an informational guide about road laws in Arkansas.

LAW CLERK — Abijah Kratochvil Education: I earned my associate of arts degree from ASU-Mountain Home, and bachelor of science degree and master of business administration degree from Arkansas State Unversity. Family information: I grew up in Izard County with my parents and older brother, and was blessed to have my great-grandmother in my life for 15 years. Currently, I live in Little Rock with my husband, Frankie, and our two dogs: a Yorkie, Oliver, and a Goldendoodle, Elliot. My favorite meal: It’s not a meal, but I love when my grandmother, Opal Charlene, makes me fried pies. When I’m not working: Usually I am sleeping, eating or going to the gym. 42

The accomplishments of which I am most proud: I am most proud whenever I can build someone else up and help them achieve their dreams and/or goals. At the top of my bucket list is to: Travel to Europe again. What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever done?: It may be cliche, but law school is up there. You might be surpised to learn that: I went to Junior Olympics for track and field. My pet peeve is: People who do not listen.

Abijah Kratoc hvil

How long have you been at the AAC, and what did you do before? I started June 7 of this year and have been primarily working on statement of facts for motions for summary judgement. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021



LAW CLERK — Jeramy Ashton Education: I graduated from Utah Valley University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy with an emphasis in bioethics and a double minor in ethics and gender studies. I interned with the Salt Lake County Domestic Violence Sanctury and the Salt Lake County District Attorney on the special victims unit. I’m also currently a rising second-year law student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen Law School.

get to spend with ny nieces and nephews. At the top of my bucket list is to: A law school graduation trip full of beaches and mountains, with a hint of skydiving. What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever done? I worked for an inpatient psychiatric children’s hospital. Responding to the hardest moments of a child’s life became some of the most humbling experiences of my life.

Where are you from: Salt Lake City, Utah. My favorite meal: I love Mexican food and a good chocolate chip cookie.

Jeramy Ashton

When I’m not working I’m: Running, reading or working on puzzles. The accomplishments of which I am most proud: I was a keynote at an undergraduate conference presenting on male survivors of sexual assault. I’m also proud of any moment I

You might be surpised to learn that: I am a published academic scholar, former USA cheerleader, and have completed multiple marathons. My pet peeve is: Inattentiveness. How long have you been at the AAC, and what did you do before? I became a law clerk at AAC in May 2021. I assist the AAC’s litigation counsel in county employment related research and compile discovery and draft motions for 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 cases.

LAW CLERK — Jordyn Nykaza Education: I graduated from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor’s degree in psycholoand minor in pre-law.


My favorite meal: I love spaghetti. I can make a meal out of Takis as well. Jordyn Schneid er

The accomplishments of which I am most proud: I am most proud of being able to attend law school, considering neither one of my parents have a higher-level education. I am also proud to have made the mock trial team because I thought my COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021

At the top of my bucket list is to: To visit Russia. What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever done?: That would be to stab myself with a needle. I was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic when I was 3 and by 5 I was injecting myself with insulin.

Family information: I am from Buckeye, Ariz. I moved to Little Rock with my husband, Grayson, and cat, Addie, to attend the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen Law School.

When I’m not working: I love playing sports, when I can get enough people to form teams.

nerves were getting the best of me during the tryout.

You might be surpised to learn that: Although I am from Arizona and lived near Phoenix, I actually do not plan on going back. I am loving Little Rock. My pet peeve is: When I can feel someone breathing on me. How long have you been at the AAC, and what did you do before? I started in May of this year. So far I have worked on road law research, crisis stabilization units and notice by publiction laws. 43

What Our Clients Are Saying: Larry Davis, Saline County Treasurer: “….We never have any problems with the software but when we have questions, they are happy to assist. They always return our calls, are open to suggestions, and they keep up with any new laws that pertain to us. The staff is great……. I highly recommend Financial Intelligence.” Sherry Bell, Columbia County Clerk: “….This software for payroll, accounts payable and general ledger is designed specifically to meet the requirements of Arkansas County Government and Arkansas Legislative Audit….. The software offers detailed information on all levels to assist not just my department, County Clerk, but other elected officials on budgetary inquiries….” Betty Boling, Montgomery County Treasurer: “….In addition to the monetary savings for our county, the electronic storage capabilities allow easy and efficient retrieval of records and documents. This is a comfortable feeling to have when you are responsible for keeping records and documents in case of a disaster. For me FI is the best way to go for data security, cost savings, time savings, customer service and support. I highly recommend Financial Intelligence and their very friendly staff to anyone whose goal is to operate their county office more efficiently….” Susan Ashmore, Garland County Comptroller: “Since the establishment of the Finance Department in Garland County, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Financial Intelligence staff on many occasions. They have always exhibited excellent support and service. We are grateful for this and also for the open line of communication we have with them. FI makes sure we are equipped with the latest updates, and this keeps Garland County in compliance with all State and Federal mandates.” Jenay Mize, Baxter County Treasurer: “……They are continually improving their product! The functionality of this software is very good! I love the budgeting module and how every entry that is made, is date and time stamped! The prompt response time is unheard of in other software systems.” Margaret Darter, Faulkner County Clerk: “….The personnel at FI have gone above and beyond to make my job as easy as a click of the mouse! When we have the occasional issue, we contact FI support and within minutes our problems are fixed. On the rare occasion that it may take a few days, FI personnel always keeps me posted of the situation and the expected timeline of when the problem will be fixed…. I cannot imagine running a County Clerk’s office without FI.” Tim Stockdale, Garland County Treasurer: “……..Whenever we have a question, their technician response time is so fast that it seems like they are only in the next room…….We are 100% satisfied with their state of the art software and the expertise and professionalism of their staff……” For complete testimonials visit us at

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COUNTY ASSESSORS The Arkansas Assessors Association met July 7-9, in Fairfield Bay, Van Buren County.

Arkansas County Assessors Association President and Jefferson County Assessor Yvonne Humphrey welcomes assessors to the conference.

Assessors visit with vendors before the meeting. Far left: Miller County Chief Deputy Assessor Claudia Walker, Miller County Assessor Nancy Herron and Independence County Assessor Diane Tucker talk during a break. Left: AAC Legal Counsel Lindsey French provides a legislative update.

Left: Arkansas Assessment Coordination Division Director Sandra Cawyer speaks. Center: Assessors check in before the meeting. Right: Geographic Information Systems Office Geographic Information Officer Shelby Johnson talks about county boundaries. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021




COUNTY COLLECTORS The Arkansas County Tax Collectors Association held a summer continuing education meeting June 23-25, 2021, at Mt. Magazine, Logan County.

Above, left: Bradley County Deputy Collector Tanya Gardner attends her first continuing education meeting. Above, right: Cleburne County Collector Connie Caldwell and Pike County Deputy Collector Kim Evans pose for a photo prior to the meeting.

Above, left: Craighead County Collector Wes Eddington and his wife, Debbie, relax in the lobby before the day’s sessions begin. Above, right: Pulaski County Treasurer/Collector Debra Buckner (right) discusses a new social media group for county collectors as Crittenden County Collector and Association President Ellen Foote (left) looks on. Right: AAC RMF Litigation Counsel Camille Neemann discusses the importance of employee documentation. Far right: Columbia County Collector Rachel Waller and Columbia County Chief Deputy Collector Courtney Perritt look over some documents. 46





The Arkansas County Treasurers Association gathered June 16-18, at Mount Magazine, Logan County.

Clark County Treasurer Karen Arnold leads a session at the treasurers’ meeting at the Lodge at Mount Magazine.

Treasurers work together to find items during a team-building scavenger hunt.

Above: Lindsey Holman with Holman Strategies, center, answers questions about the American Rescue Plan funding. Right: AAC Consultant Eddie Jones and Treasurers Association President and Craighead County Treasurer Terry McNatt chat.

Left: AAC Member Benefits Manger Becky Comet divides treasurers into groups to participate in a scavenger hunt. Center: Boone County Treasurer Sandy Carter and Prairie County Treasurer Tamara Dabney chat. Right: Faulkner County Treasuer Scott Sanson leads a discussion. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021





The County Judges Association of Arkansas held its spring meeting June 14-16, in Jonesboro, Craighead County.

Above, left: Greene County Judge Rusty McMillon delivers a 911 Committee report to the body on the first full day of the conference. Above, right: Lonoke County Judge and CJAA 1st Vice President introduces special speaker, Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Above, left: Gov. Asa Hutchinson arrives at the Red Wolf Convention Center and is greeted by Craighead County Judge Marvin Day, AAC Executive Director Chris Villines and Polk County Judge and CJAA President Brandon Ellison. Above, right: Sevier County Judge and CJAA Secretary/Treasurer Greg Ray and Johnson County Judge Herman Houston chat in the exhibitor hall. Right: Franklin County Judge Rickey Bowman and Madison County Judge Frank Weaver enjoy a break between continuing education session. Far right: Miller County Judge Cathy Hardin Harrison and Washington County Judge Joseph Wood are deep in conversation. 48





The Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association met June 8-11, atop Mount Magazine in Logan County.

Cleveland County Circuit Clerk Jimmy Cummings speaks with Phillips County Chief Deputy Circuit Clerk Tamekia Franklin.

Randolph County Circuit Clerk Debbie Wise, State Land Comissioner Tommy Land, and AAC Executive Director Chris Villines visit. Far left: Franklin County Circuit Clerk Janice King and Johnson County Circuit Clerk Monica King listen intently to a discussion. Left: Ouachita County Chief Deputy Circuit Clerk Shirley Russell and Ouachita County Circuit Clerk Gladys Nettles focus on the speaker.

Above, left: Michael Clayton, President and CEO of Ambassador for TRUST, delivers a presentation on leadership. Above, middle: Faulkner County Circuit Clerk Crystal Taylor discusses Tableau and Arrest Tracking Numbers. Above, right: The circuit clerks enjoyed some friendly competition before their association dinner. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021




COUNTY SHERIFFS Arkansas Sheriffs Association held its summer meeting June 6-9, in Jonesboro, Craighead County.

Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd is sworn in as Arkansas Sheriffs Association President. He is joined by his wife, Tonya, and is sworn in by Division 4 Circuit Judge Cindy Thyer.

Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the conference luncheon. ASA Past President and Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton listens. The Arkansas Sheriffs Association appointed a new board at the conference. Members include Benton County Sheriff and Sgt. at Arms Shawn Holloway, Faulkner County Sheriff and Legislative Chair Tim Ryals, Lonoke County Sheriff and Financial Chair John Staley, Columbia County Sheriff and Secretary/Treasurer Mike Loe, Pope County Sheriff and Executive Secretary Shane Jones, Mississippi County Sheriff and 2nd Vice President Dale Cook, Saline County Sheriff and 1st Vice President Rodney Wright and President Marty Boyd. Board members were sworn in by Division 4 Circuit Judge Cindy Thyer.

Above Left: ASA Executive Director Scott Bradley, AAC Chief Legal Counsel Mark Whitmore and State Rep. Marcus Richmond talk during a session. Above Center: Arkansas Dept. of Public Safety Secretary Jami Cook speaks. Above Right: Central Baptist Pastor and Jonesboro Police Dept. Chaplain Don Blackmore speaks during the prayer breakfast. 50





The Arkansas Association of County Clerks met June 2-4, in Texarkana, Miller County.

Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston stopped by to talk with clerks.

County clerks visit with vendors before the meeting. Far left: Faulkner County Chief Deputy Clerk Tammie Lemings, Pope County Clerk Pam Ennis and Pope County Chief Deputy Clerk Karri Warren check in. Left: Arkansas Association of County Clerks President and Little River County Clerk Deanna Sivley welcomes county clerks at the Crossties Event Venue.

Above Left: Secretary of State’s Office Director of Elections Leslie Bellamy, State Board of Election Commissioners Director Daniel Schults and Legal Counsel Chris Madison talk about upcoming elections changes. Above Right: Geographic Information Systems Office Geographic Information Officer Shelby Johnson talks with Leslie Bellamy and Polk County Clerk Terri Harrison. COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2021




Workers’ Compensation Fund pays $750,000 in dividends to its member counties in 2021


he Association of Arkansas Counties Workers’ Compensation Trust is proud to announce that for the 25th straight year dividends will be returned to all participating counties. The 2021 dividend is declared based on 2017 premiums paid and losses incurred. This brings the total dividends paid over the last 25 years to $30,698,953. 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 25th 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.........................$6,890 Ashley County.............................$8,310 Baxter County...........................$16,371 Benton County.........................$26,614 Boone County..........................$11,685 Bradley County...........................$6,218 Calhoun County.........................$5,352 Carroll County..........................$10,833 Chicot County...............................$500 Clark County..............................$9,713 Clay County................................$6,265 Cleburne County........................$7,582 Cleveland County.......................$4,914 Columbia County.......................$8,678 Conway County..........................$7,738 Craighead County....................$14,503 Crawford County......................$12,767 Crittenden County...................$12,602 Cross County..............................$5,424 Dallas County.............................$5,155 Desha County.............................$4,897 Drew County.................................$500 Faulkner County.......................$27,666 Franklin County.........................$8,103 Fulton County............................$4,425 Garland County..........................$8,077 Grant County..............................$6,869 Greene County............................$9,701 Hempstead County.....................$8,066

Hot Spring County.....................$5,494 Howard County..........................$4,923 Independence County................$5,528 Izard County...............................$7,363 Jackson County...........................$4,110 Jefferson County.......................$17,608 Johnson County..........................$6,785 Lafayette County.........................$7,653 Lawrence County........................$6,856 Lee County..................................$3,600 Lincoln County..............................$500 Little River County.....................$4,131 Logan County...........................$11,574 Lonoke County.........................$14,512 Madison County.......................$10,281 Marion County...........................$6,626 Miller County...........................$17,013 Mississippi County...................$14,029 Monroe County..........................$3,634 Montgomery County.....................$500 Nevada County...........................$7,984 Newton County..........................$6,024 Ouachita County......................$12,463 Perry County...............................$6,628 Phillips County...........................$4,544 Pike County................................$4,977 Poinsett County........................$14,155 Polk County..............................$12,195 Pope County.............................$15,461 Prairie County.............................$4,222 Pulaski County..........................$53,934 Randolph County.......................$8,925 Saline County............................$18,399 Scott County...............................$9,588 Searcy County.............................$7,006 Sebastian County......................$29,226 Sevier County..............................$6,105 Sharp County..............................$8,155 St. Francis County.......................$4,910 Stone County..............................$6,574 Union County...........................$14,810 Van Buren County......................$9,974 Washington County..................$38,071 White County...........................$13,906 Woodruff County.......................$4,919 Yell County.................................$7,707 52


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

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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 $ 3 0 . 6 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 2021.

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

c ov e r e d!

Members enjoy dividends! $30 Million paid since 1997

We’ve got you

Experienced & licensed examiners


Debbie Norman

Debbie Lakey

Kim Nash

Renee Turner

Kim Mitchell

Ellen Wood

Brandy McAllister

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501.375.8805, ext. 546

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5 14 1 tse W drihT te rS • eltiL cko,R Arsan k 1 027



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

EPA announces plans to undertake three new rulemakings on PFAS contamination By Adam Pugh, Aaliyah Nedd On Sept. 8, 2021, the EPA released the Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15 (Preliminary Plan 15), which announces the agency’s initiation of three new rulemaking processes to reduce contaminants such as PFAS. Preliminary Plan 15 identifies existing and new industries to undergo regulatory action and provides a rulemaking schedule for such activities. Additionally, EPA will conduct studies on PFAS in wastewater discharges from landfills and other sources. Based on Preliminary Plan 15, the EPA will revise the effluent limitations guidelines or pretreatment standards for the following: • Meat and Poultry Products to address nutrient discharges; • Organic Chemicals, Plastics and Synthetic Fibers to address PFAS discharges; and • Metal Finishing to address PFAS discharges.

As the EPA initiates the rulemaking process, the agency solicits public comments on Preliminary Plan 15, particularly on the wastewater provisions, the PFAS multi-industry study and suggestions on the inclusion of environmental justice in Effluent Limitations Guidelines planning analyses. To learn more and submit your public comments, click here. On Sept. 8, 2021, the Environment, Energy and Land Use Policy Steering Committee heard from Rob Bilott, Parter at Taft Law, and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) on the health and environmental impacts of PFAS. As owners, users and regulators of water resources, counties are directly impacted by new regulatory standards to address PFAS contamination. Counties support efforts by EPA and other federal agencies to study the health and environmental impacts of PFAS compounds. Additionally, as the administration moves toward regulatory action, counties urge the administration to work closely with state and local governments throughout the rulemaking process.

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