Being sent to jail on drug-related charges is no laughing matter. As many can attest to the number of people in jail in Izard and Fulton counties on such charges.
Izard County Judge John Dan Kemp spoke with the Izard County Quorum Court Dec. 1 about the proposed Izard-Fulton County Drug Court facility that will see to it that those in need of or who have been ordered by a court to go through drug rehabilitation.
The Arkansas Department of Community Correction will provide such services in the drug court facilities that include counseling and career and educational planning along with other forms of rehabilitation for Izard-Fulton county residents.
The proposed drug court would need enough office space for three employees -- a counselor, an intake specialist and a probation officer -- for the proogram to be operational in 2010. The Department of Community Corrections is willing to lease office space from the county in five-year increments at a rate of $7.60 per square foot.
Judge Rayburn Finley was authorized by the Quorum Court to offer $240,000 for the building that used to house Corner Drug Store across from the courthouse to secure office space for the drug court and make room in the courthouse by moving other offices to that location as well.
The Department of Community Correction will use about one third of the floor space and pay a lease that will cover the investment cost within 10 to 20 years. The other two-thirds of the floor space will be used to meet the county's long-term goal or relieving over-crowding in the courthouse. "Preliminary plans include installing ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant restrooms and (an) elevator which will eliminate current offices in the courthouse," according to a court press release. "This will improve the services to all county residents who require access to the courtroom and to the assessor, treasurer, clerk, county judge and other elected officials.
The drug court could have some much needed positive side effects once in operation. The Quorum Court finance committee said it "would generate some stimulus to the local economy, add new employment opportunities and provide a necessary service in the area. Yet, the drug court poropsal is somewhat secondary to the fact that the overcrowding in county offices has begun to prohibit the county's ability to grow its services to Izard County residents."
The lease income from the Department of Community Correction can provide funding for more space in the future to expand county services. The annual lease income would be about $16,000.
The Izard County JPs held a special meeting to appropriate funds to purchase the Corner Drug Store property.
Results of the meeting will be in next week's issue of The News.