JPs act in Freeman’s absence

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – With no county judge officially presiding, the Lawrence County Quorum Court meeting for September was much different than usual.

Justice of the Peace Alex Latham, a former county judge, presided over the meeting after a short discussion. While no mention of this was made, Ann Pulliam, County Judge Dale Freeman’s assistant, is said to be conducting responsibilities of the Lawrence County judge, in Freeman’s absence. Instead, she sat mostly quiet at the table for the meeting, except to update the group on the shooting completion (nearing completion) and an accident in a county-owned truck, requiring a replacement.

Courthouse Maintenance

JP Junior Briner informed the court money would need to be moved in personal services under courthouse maintenance in the budget. Clerk Tina Stowers said two part-time employees became one part-time and one full-time employee. Stowers said she would have the number by next month.

The decision was also made to trade an older mower in and purchase a new mower for $935.

In addition, discussion was given to leaks in the courthouse. Several employees in attendance mentioned there were leaks in the building.

Committees

“The other item under budget committee…under budget reports,” Briner said, with committees on the mind. “It is time to start working on budgets and we need to set up some committees or set up a committee to work on budgets for this coming year.”

It seemed to be a topic Latham was expecting.

“I’ve thought about this,” Latham responded. “Let’s just talk about this for a minute.”

JP Lloyd Clark suggested the committee be one as a whole of the entire court, with no requirement for attendance but an openness to anybody. As Briner clicked his ink pen, dates and times were discussed but no firm date seemed to be set by the group.

In prior months, Freeman had clashed with Briner about creating committees – at some meetings, stating there would not be any.

Stowers said she had asked for departments to turn in their budgets by October 1.

Hospital Board of Governors

Discussion was brought to John Thomison, a member of the hospital Board of Governors. Briner said he had spoken to Dick Jarboe, county attorney, and concluded the members are appointed by the judge – and affirmed by the quorum court. However, if an appointment expired and another appointment was not made, Briner said the appointee would continue to serve.

During the discussion, JP Pardoe Roberts, former Arkansas State Police trooper and law enforcement officer across for the region, said he had “never, one time, investigated John Thomison for anything.” While it was not expounded upon as to why this affirmation of character was made by Roberts, he also said he had received calls asking about Thomison and wanted to go on the record about the man.

“John Thomison – I’ve never heard anything but good things about him,” Roberts said.

Latham, with nods of approval from the court, said he would continue to serve until the judge made another appointment.

Lawrence County Jail

Sheriff Jeff Yates updated the court on the status of the jail. He said crews broke ground Monday (today) and contractors had given him good news from the site.

“They’re going strong with it, now,” Yates said. “He said everything was looking good. He said the dirt was excellent.”

Pulliam’s Pay

With Pulliam’s duties going from part-time to full-time in the absence of the county judge, the group entered executive session and decided to increase Pulliam’s pay to a flat $500 per week through the end of the year or until the return of the county judge to his normal duties.

Featured Photo: JP Lloyd Clark (left), Clerk Tina Stowers and JP Alex Latham at September’s Quorum Court meeting.

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