The Lawrence County Quorum Court heard an update at Monday night’s meeting on unpaid medical bills that it is believed should have been covered by employees’ insurance.

It was reported that a total of $85,351 is owed for the time period in question, which is from May 1, 2019 through April 30, 2020. Judge John Thomison said employees have been asked to submit their bills to the County Clerk’s Office by the first of March so they can be itemized and brought back to the court.

The intention is for the county to pay the bills through an agreement with the employees that if the insurance payments come through the county will be reimbursed.

Judge Thomison said this is an issue many counties are facing.

“We just want to make sure we are taking care of our employees,” Thomison said.

Justice Briner agreed saying taking this action will prevent the employees from being turned over to collections for bills that should have been covered by their insurance.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Thomison reported on the buildings purchased by the county on Main Street in Walnut Ridge.

The buildings will be used for office space for the prosecuting attorney’s office and the circuit judge’s office.

Approximately $12,000 is budgeted from county funds for renovations. Thomison reported that work is complete on the office space for Judge Adam Weeks. He said the project came in on target at the $4,880 bid, other than an extra $100 expense to paint the door.

In addition, the county has dedicated $7,250 for work to be completed on Prosecutor Ryan Cooper’s office, which will be expanded into the building adjacent to the current office. Cooper is also committing $7,250 from his budget, as well as $5,000 from another fund.

In other business:

Judge Thomison gave an update on the Cache River lawsuit. He reported that a settlement conference call was held but no agreement was reached, so it is expected that the case will go to trial. If an agreement were to be reached, it would come before the court for approval. No trial date has been set.

Justices voted to continue the county’s membership in the Northeast Arkansas Intermodal Authority, which includes Clay, Randolph, Sharp and Lawrence counties.

Briner reported that there is still a push to consolidate 911 services across the state. The justices passed an ordinance in opposition to this change at a previous meeting.

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