The Salem Quorum Court appointed a new member of both the Fulton County Hospital Board and the Fulton County Library Board last week, although not without some controversy.
Fulton County Judge Charles Willett had previously requested that all three candidates for the hospital board be prepared to speak at the June 8 meeting, but only one, Sherrie Keylon was present at the meeting and had Jim Kendrick speak to the court on her behalf.
Kendrick, a retired hospital administrator and deacon at First Baptist Church addressed the court and the recent termination of Keylon by Fulton County Hospital.
"I'm here to speak on behalf of Sherrie tonight because I believe in her cause. I believe in her and I know her. I believe in standing up for what's right. For she was terminated, and when asked for a reason for termination, she was simply told it was for creating a disturbance. But in actuality all she had done was ask the hospice chaplain to pray for the hospital, and the employees and its workers. Frankly, we feel like that this was a wrongful termination, and we feel these actions were taken because she expressed interest on being in front of this group to be appointed to the board."
According to Kendrick, prior to her termination, Keylon had received an outstanding evaluation from her supervisor and been removed from probation.
"As Sherrie would tell you tonight, she doesn't want to be a stumbling block in your way, and although she is not withdrawing her request, if asked by the court, she would do so. But she still has an interest and we feel like that she can and would make a very good representative on your behalf to try and make some improvements at the hospital and she certainly has the support of the community."
At this point, the court went into executive session to discuss Kendrick's remarks and when court resumed, Judge Willett addressed Keylon.
"We respect your concern, very much for the hospital. We appreciate your interest in serving on the board. I know there's some stuff going on at the hospital that needs to be settled. At this time, I think for this year, I'm going to ask that we appoint Mr. Bill Pace to our hospital board. If this stuff is settled on this termination or whatever, this next year, then you're more than welcome to come back and present your case to be on the board and we would be of a very open mind to hear it."
At that point, the court approved the appointment of Bill Pace of Mammoth Spring to the Fulton County Hospital Board.
The court also appointed a new member to the Fulton County Library Board, placing Sandy Russell of Mammoth Spring into the position. According to court members, Russell is currently a librarian with the Mammoth Spring Schools.
Next on the agenda was Ordinance 2009-6 which authorizes an additional $20 fine to help defray the expense of incarcerated prisoners in the county jail, pursuant to act 209 of 2009 and for other purposes. Many counties in the surrounding area have raised this fee from $5 to $20 to help cover their jail operating costs. The money will be used for the maintenance, operation costs and capital expenses of the county jail and will be levied on every defendant upon each conviction who pleads guilty, nolo contender, is found guilty or forfeits bond for any misdemeanor or violation of district court.
In other business, the court appropriated $25,407.88 in funds to the Fulton County Hospital for operating and maintenance costs and $14,291.78 for the Recreation Complex to cover the costs of writing their grant, to pay the fees submitted by the architectural firm and to pay for the purchase of handicap accessible picnic tables and grills.
Sheriff Walter Dillinger requested and received funds in the amount of $8,500 to purchase a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The funds will come out of the Sheriff's 95-11 car fund and the county's Search and Rescue fund.
Emergency Management Coordinator Darrell Zimmer gave the court an update on $2.2 million in funds the county is waiting on from FEMA and the state of Arkansas for the ice storm damage. The request has made it to Representative Marion Berry's office and is set to be expedited. Currently, the county has received only $95,000 of the $2.2 million total. The county is also expecting several hundred thousand dollars from the 2008 flooding damage and close to $250,000 in assistance for the May 8th flood of this year in the western part of the county.
Currently, the county has $100,000 on its line of credit and looking at the books, compared to this point last year, county sales tax revenues are up, but balances are down a little over $100,000. It was noted that a review of the annual budget may be in order if this trend were to continue.
County road crews have completed two-thirds of the clean up on rural roads, including grading and debris clean-up, and the county is currently burning debris at one site and chipping debris at two other sites. Aug 6 is the deadline set by FEMA to complete ice storm clean up and Zimmer indicated that an extension might have to be requested by the county.
Zimmer also mentioned that in cooperation with the State's Department of Emergency Management, several northeast Arkansas counties including Fulton are working together to put a plan in place for a ham radio system to be used in future emergencies, such as with the ice storm. During the ice storm, normal communications including cell phones were rendered useless, leaving a ham radio system a viable option. The effort is still in its early planning stages, but Zimmer assured the court that updates would be brought to the court as they became available.