Not every justice on the Sharp County Quorum Court supported a resolution requiring the county road department to adhere to state law.
At the June 12 meeting, JPs voted 6-2 to approve a resolution acknowledging the laws prohibiting the use of county employees and equipment on private property. JPs Jeral Hastings and Ray Martin voted against the resolution.
The resolution, presented by County Judge Joe Stidman, calls for the county to:
* Maintain real property of rural fire departments.
* Use county labor and equipment on private property to provide services which are necessary as a result of a natural disaster.
* Maintain roads across private property to allow. access of cemeteries both private and public.
* Maintain all roads used for school bus routes.
* Maintain all roads used for mail routes.
* Maintain any road that provides the most direct route to the courthouse for at least 10 families if the road is graded and has been used by the public for at least two years.
After reviewing the resolution Hastings asked about maintenance of farm roads to chicken houses in the county. Hastings said the businesses bring jobs to county residents and bring in money for the county.
"That's not authorized by these statutes. I know we've done that in the past in the county, but they passed that law for a reason," Stidman said, adding that according to guidelines set forth in the law, only Calhoun County would be permitted to maintain private roads in addition to county roads.
The resolution states that the county cannot partner with private individuals to provide work even if the individual offers to pay, termed illegal extraction. If the county performed private work it could cause the county to spend more tax dollars to repair or replace the equipment, the resolution said.
The resolution states:
"Case law and attorney general opinions hold that county labor and equipment cannot be used to make improvements to private property; and that this prohibition has been applied not withstanding the fact that the county has received compensation for the work performed; and whereas such work is termed 'illegal extraction;' and that this prohibition applies because such use of county property could result in the need for more tax dollars to replace and repair equipment."
The resolution calls for those who violate the policy to be charged with a misdemeanor and if found guilty to pay a fine not less than $50 and not more than $100.
Stidman, who was appointed to fill the unexpired term of County Judge Harold Crawford after Crawford's death, will leave office at the end of the year. Democrat Larry Brown of Cave City and independent Wayne Long will both vie for the position in the November election.
In other business, Cherokee Village Alderman Peter Martin asked the court to ask the voters if they would financially support an animal control facility in the county. The measure could be placed on the November ballot, he said. He said a public vote would allow the court to determine which of the county districts would support or wouldn't support such a facility.
Martin said simply asking if they would be in favor without putting a dollar figure on the proposed facility would suffice to determine if they would be interested in financially supporting it at a later date.
Martin said a vote would allow the county to determine which areas think animal control is an issue. In effect, if Cave City didn't approve the measure the tax wouldn't have to be implemented in Cave City, he explained.
JP Greg Prenger said voters might support the idea but not the funding.
"You're asking for something, but you're not putting a dollar amount on it," Prenger said.
Highland Alderman Larry Allen said an option to fund animal control might be to place a tax on pet items such as pet food. He said another option would be to have the county require animals to be licensed. County Attorney Larry Kissee said he didn't think a pet tax was lawful.
JP Darrell Kehrli said the county should have a plan in place before asking voters to support it. He also said it might be easier if the city and county leaders would give Martin a yea or nay vote rather than going to voters. Stidman suggested Martin circulate a petition to "test the waters."
"You've still got a lot of rural areas that still shoot, shovel and shut up and don't have a problem with animal control," JP Martin said.
The court is to report back on the issue at the July meeting.
Stidman announced the county received an additional $14,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development to assess the feasibility of expanding a natural gas pipeline, which ends in the south end of the county, to the northern portion of the county. The county originally received a $20,000 grant. The study is estimated to cost $34,000 and should be completed by Feb. 1, Stidman said.
The court unanimously reappointed Shelia Morgan, Ed Erikson, Jim Baxter, Donald Gene Phillips and Patty Sample to the South Sharp County Emergency Medical Services Board. Cave City Mayor Carl Johnson appointed Jerry McCall to serve on the board and Stidman appointed Roberta Hutchison to complete the seven-member board. The court approved the appointments.
JP Dennis Burton spoke to the court regarding the proposed use of the former Sharp County Health building.
The sheriff's department has requested use for storage, county Emergency Management Coordinator Pete Reilly needs an office, the prosecutor's office needs storage, district court needs a new office with more space and 9-1-1 also requested moving into the building.
Stidman asked that the county building committee decide what should be done.
The court unanimously approved an ordinance amending the county budget to include an increase of $1,400 annually for weekly cleaning of the new county health unit.
James Tanner said the county is already out of room in the new building and is looking at grants to expand.