Some last minute items concerning the future of the county were added on to the agenda at the Fulton County Quorum Court meeting Nov. 10.
Jerry Estes, director of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative in Salem, and Sherry Jackson, also of NAEC, came to the quorum court to ask for an amount of money to help keep Fulton County involved with the North Central Arkansas Regional Economic Development (NCARED) program so the county will be more eligible for grants and loans from the government. According to Estes, the federal government likes to work with regions. The group of counties in the NCARED region are Sharp, Izard, Fulton, Baxter, Stone, Marion, Van Buren and Searcy, Estes said. Independence County has also expressed interest in joining NCARED.
Jackson explained in a separate interview that through the NCARED program, if jobs were coming to the region, the program would try to keep those jobs in the region. If it is found that a certain county in the region could not fulfill the needs of those jobs, the program would see if another county in the region would be better suited for the jobs.
"Fulton County is right in the middle (of the region)," Estes said. "If we get jobs in Fulton, we're going to supply most of them."
"Baxter County has been carrying the load (of employment) for years," Estes said.
The way the board through the NCARED program is set up is based on the population of each county. According to the population of Fulton, the county will have two directors. Currently, Jackson is a part-time director. Estes said Fulton County Judge Charles Willett will have to appoint another director in 2009.
Previously, NCARED was funded by individual businesses, chamber, SIDC and elected officials in each county. Beginning in 2009, things will be different. Estes said the amount of money that needs to be supplied for a "county economic responsibility" is about $0.38 per person in the county, which is about $4,400. "We can raise half of (the money), but we need help coming up with the rest," Estes said. He said if NAEC needed to, they would host fundraisers to raise the needed money.
"Not being a part of (NCARED) is not an option," Estes said.
The court voted to appropriate $2,400 for the NCARED program.
In other business, Fulton County Fair Manager Carolyn Lewis said the fair board is short on money and is in need of the county's help. "Though we had a real good fair, financially, it was not a real good fair," Lewis said.
She said their monetary gain was down by half from previous years on the Saturday of the fair. Saturday is usually the day the fair takes in the most income, Lewis said. The rides being shut down during the rainy weather did not help, she said.
The Hickinbotham-Miller Building costs about $1,000 per month for upkeep, according to Lewis.
"We usually have a water line break because things are getting old down there," Lewis said.
She said the building is rented about 120 days out of the year. "We try to have as many events as we can (in the building)," Lewis said.
Currently, there is about $600 in the fair's account. "We're not going to be able to keep the building open for the community's use," Lewis said.
The court agreed to appropriate $2,400 for the 2009 fairground's budget.
Mary Rivera brought up her concerns about the animal identification system and the water bond issue that was on the general election ballot that passed.
According to the Veterinary Services Memorandum No. 575.19, the animal identification system requires a premises identification number (PIN) to register and track cattle and any other type of animal for disease control activities. Though the memorandum states the identification system is voluntary, it does state that, "When issuing PINs for disease program work and when the producer does not volunteer to have his/her premises registered, the premises registration form is completed and processed according to the protocols established in the state. The premises registration form is noted to indicate that the registration was not voluntary."
"This is a voluntary program that is not voluntary," Rivera said.
Rivera also voiced her concerns about the voting results of Referred Question No. 1 on the general election ballot, which authorizes the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) to issue water bonds.
Under the bill the ANRC will have the power to "have and exercise the right of eminent domain for the purpose of acquiring the fee title, an easement, a right-of-way or any other interest of estate in lands for projects or portions of projects." ANRC would also have the power to "make or accept gifts or grants of moneys, services, franchises, rights, privileges, licenses, rights-of-way, easements or other property, real or personal or mixed."
"This is a lot of power to one agency," Rivera said.
The writers of the bill wrote that it was not necessary to publish the entire bill. The only available information for voters was what was on the ballot.
The Senior Citizens Center asked for $2,000 more in their annual budget to improve and care for the building. The court agreed to appropriate the money.
The court also agreed to appropriate $2,340 for the new roof on the Federal Building and on the jail.
Cherie Brickey was appointed to the library board by the court to replace Donna Hall.
During the meeting the court also approved next year's Fulton County budget.
The next Fulton County Quorum Court meeting will be Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. in the courtroom of the courthouse.