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County to apply for CARES reimbursement funds

Lawrence County plans to seek approximately $614,000 in reimbursement from the funds designated for cities and counties by the Arkansas CARES Act Committee.

County Judge John Thomison recently attended a meeting in Little Rock and reported that payroll reimbursement for emergency personnel, jailers, dispatchers and other specific positions will provide the most efficient avenue for the county to receive the CARES funds.

The county is eligible for up to $677,000 in reimbursements, and Thomison said additional requests can be filed.

“We have $614,105 we are ready to apply for,” he said.

Because the money is a reimbursement for funds already spent, there will be no restriction on how the money received is spent.

Justices approved an ordinance at Monday night’s Quroum Court meeting to establish the coronavirus relief fund as a sub fund of county general. Any reimbursement received from the state through the CARES Act will be placed in that fund and will not be included in the county’s budget.

“It does not need to be included in anticipated revenue,” Justice Alex Latham said.

Thomison agreed saying, “It’s not revenue. This is a one-time deal.”

Budget Committee Chair Junior Briner said the committee will meet later this month after revenue projections are finalized by County Treasurer Connie Mullen.

“Revenue projection is always the moving part,” Judge Thomison said. “This year is even worse than usual.”

Briner said they will err on the side of caution.

“We definitely do not want to over project on revenue,” he said.

Justices also heard an update from Alison Johnson with the Lawrence County Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Coalition. She shared challenges the county is facing with youth use and abuse of drugs and alcohol, especially prescription medication.

She also told justices about different programs and resources the coalition has for prevention efforts in the county and items the group has available for residents, such as lock bags for medication and timer caps for medication bottles.

“These caps can help you know if you took your meds or if someone else has gotten into your medication bottle.”

Johnson said the drug take back day, which is slated for Oct. 24, is an important component in the coalition’s effort to prevent the abuse of prescription drugs. Last October, approximately 27,000 pounds of medication was collected in Arkansas.

“This is a big thing we are doing in Arkansas to try to keep these drugs out of the wrong hands,” Johnson said.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the court approved the appointment of Carolyn Rorex of Imboden to the Lawrence County Library Board. She replaces Rebecca Jones of Imboden, who stepped down from the board at the completion of her term.

Supt. Belcher surprised by gym dedication

As the Lawrence County School Board prepared to cut the ribbon for the new gymnasium on the Walnut Ridge campus, Supt. Terry Belcher was unaware that the new facility would bear his name.

Board President Brittany Schmidt welcomed those in attendance and proceeded with the announcement of the new gym’s name as tarps covering the front of the building were released.

“In keeping with the pride and tradition of our school district of honoring those who have given so much of their life for the betterment of our school, it was an easy decision for who the gymnasium should be named after,” she said. “A man who has spent 44 years with our school district, first as a coach, then a principal, and for the last 24 years as our superintendent.”

Schmidt also noted that without the fiscal management provided by Belcher, the new gymnasium, as well as the softball and baseball complex being constructed across the street, would not have been possible.

Supt. Belcher expressed his surprise and appreciation for the honor, announcing to the crowd “They lied to me … all of them.”

He went on to say, “I want to thank the board and the community for your support all these years. You’ve trusted me with your children and your money. I hope I’ve done well with both.”

Following the unveiling and ribbon-cutting ceremony, Project Manager Gary Hoyt with Nabholz invited those in attendance to tour the facility in small groups. Members of the WRHS cheerleaders and Alley Cats dance team served as tour guides and handed out goodies to those in attendance.

In addition to expanded seating, the new gym also boasts a large lobby and concession stand, expanded locker room space and a new sound system.

The facility also houses new administration offices, including a boardroom, where school board meetings will be held.

The need for additional gym space has continued to grow for the district as peewee, junior high and senior high teams, as well as physical education classes require space.

Voters passed a 2.9 millage increase for the purpose of constructing the new gymnasium and baseball and softball complex.

Hoyt said he is proud of the finished product and hopes the community will be, as well.

“It has been my pleasure to work with Mr. Belcher, his school board and his staff,” he said. “We have truly been a team on this and that means a lot.”

Smoke billows as field stubble is burnt off a harvested field off Highway 67 North recently. Extension Agent Bryce Baldridge said the county’s corn is mainly harvested, minus a few fields, rice is close to 90 percent harvested and beans are at about 40 to 50 percent harvested. He said other than the rain from Delta, the weather has been cooperating. “We have a good forecast for harvest for the next 10 days,” he said. “This should allow farmers to get a lot done as long as moisture goes down. Some may elect to go ahead and cut it and dry it in the bin just to get it out of the field.”

Harvest continues in LawCo.

Body found during search

According to information released by the Jonesboro Police Department, a search held on Saturday in connection with the disappearance of Hoxie native Lisa Prescott resulted in the discovery of human remains.

EquuSearch Midwest organized the search effort for Prescott, who has been missing for more than two years.

The JPD posted on its Facebook Saturday evening, “EquuSearch Midwest, along with the Jonesboro Police Department and Coroner Toby Emerson, confirm human remains were found in Southwest Jonesboro today. These remains will be sent to the State Crime Lab for positive identification.”

Prescott, who was last seen on Aug. 31, 2018, was discovered missing from her home, but her purse, keys and money were left at home and her door was unlocked.

The JPD expressed appreciation to everyone who aided in the search.

Imboden ISO lowered to 2

Imboden Mayor Chris Jones reported at Monday night’s city council meeting that the city has recently been notified that its ISO number will be lowered.

Jones said the Insurance Service Office visited the Imboden Fire Department in May, and they recently receive word that the department will go from a class 3 down to a class 2.

“There are mot many class 2 department’s in the entire state, especially the size of Imboden,” Jones said.

The change will go into effect on Dec. 1.

Jones also advised council members that a preliminary budget for 2021 will be presented at the November council meeting.

In other business:

Nick Bagwell with Public Works reported the wastewater permit has been submitted to ADEQ by Ben DeClerk, the city’s engineer.

Council members discussed properties in need of cleanup. Jones advised that letters had been sent out by certified mail.

Early voting starts Monday

Early voting for the Nov. 3 General Election begins Monday in the County Clerk’s Office in the Lawrence County Courthouse.

Anyone registered to vote in Lawrence County can cast their ballot from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

In addition there will be three off-site early voting polling sites offered on Saturdays. These sites will also be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are open to any resident of Lawrence County who is registered to vote.

On Oct. 24, early voting will be available at the Imboden Assembly of God Church and the Lynn Community Center, and on Oct. 31, early voting will be offered at the Sedgwick Community Center.

On Election Day, polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and voters will be required to cast ballots at their assigned polling place (the election proclamation with additional information will appear in next week’s TD).

In addition to the presidential race, contested races that will appear on the ballot for Lawrence County voters are: U.S. Senate, Senator Tom Cotton, Republican, and Ricky Dale Harrington Jr., Libertarian; and Constable Campell Township, Kenneth Fears, Democrat, and Kenneth Cole, Republican.

Non-partisan races for judicial and municipal offices include: Circuit Judge, District 3, Div. 3, Judge Adam Weeks and Joe Grider; Hoxie City Council, ward 1, position 1, Isaac Anglin and Darrell Pickney; Hoxie City Council, ward 2, position 2, Joyce Roberts and Kerrie Hancock.

The Hillcrest School District is also having its annual school election in conjunction with the General Election. The district is not seeking a change in millage and Jody Doyle is running unopposed for the Zone 4 position on the board.

COVID-19 cases spike in Lawrence County

Lawrence County has seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases over the past week according to information reported by the Arkansas Department of Health.

On Tuesday, the ADH reported a cumulative case total to 604, up 109 from the 495 reported the previous week.

The active case count for Lawrence County has also increased with the new cases being added. As of Tuesday, the county had 125 active cases, an increase of 53 from the previous weeks active case total of 72.

A total of 56 were reported as having recovered during the past week, increasing that total from 410 to 466.

There was no change in the number of deaths reported for Lawrence County, leaving that cumulative number at 13.

Health units offer extended hours

Local health units are offering extended hours on Tuesdays to provide additional access to flu shots, COVID-19 testing and other services.

Health units across the state will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays. The units will operate under normal hours of business on other weekdays.

Flu vaccinations are offered on a walk-in basis and no appointment is necessary. Appointments should be made for COVID-19 tests by calling ahead to the unit.

Other clinical services available at health units include: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), family health, sexually transmitted infection screening and services and immunization appointments.