The Sharp County Quorum Court had a full agenda and much discussion regarding hot topics in the community. They included the passage of a K2 ordinance and discussion over a possible ordinance regarding response to to Act 631/HB2339, an act that could allow the state to take water rights from private individuals. Cave City Fire Chief Ronny Milligan. Milligan was present to request the court to repair radio towers to enable officials to effectively communicate with central dispatch, something that Milligan says has become a huge problem with both medical personnel and law enforcement.
After the consideration of minutes from the April 12 meeting and departmental reports, the court preceded with old and unfinished business. Roger Delffs and Dave Daughtery, spoke to the court regarding Act 631/HB2339. The men provided a sample ordinance for the consideration of the court, based on a similar ordinance in Newton County, the only county in the state known to have an ordinance similar to this countering the language set forth in the Act. This act was passed in 2008 by Arkansas legislature. The ordinance, if passed, would be an attempt to give the quorum court the first line of defense over both property and water rights. The Act will transfer imminent domain to the Arkansas Natural Resources. Both men believe that the county should have jurisdiction, essentially preventing the government from taking over water and land rights. Discussion ensued and City Attorney Larry Kissee presented his research to the court regarding the Act. He said it was passed on a 65 percent margin December 2, 2008. Both Delffs and Daughtery said that the 21 page document containing the specifics of the Clean Water Act was not posted. Within the document, the men said there is language that is confusing and would allow the government power to, "Acquire absolute title to and us for any purpose and at any place, water stored in any reservoir or other impoundment." The men feel that this means anywhere, including water on private property and feel that the county should take steps to secure property owners rights over the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission. This was the purpose of the men presenting the sample ordinance to the quorum court.
Kissee explained to the court, "You cannot declare null and void an act passed by State Legislature." He said the citizens have an option to go before the legislative branch of government. Delffs countered Kissee with his understanding of the act stating, "The county court takes precedence over any part of state government. I feel the Quorum Court has the authority over the Natural Resources Commission." He further stated that the Act was passed under misleading circumstances. Delffs said he fears rice farmers will demand water from people in the county, and the act will enable that to become a reality. Sharp County Judge Larry Brown said he feels the court needs to have time to review the potential ordinance. Kissee ended his discussion by maintaining that an ordinances can only be presented by a Justice of the Peace, not a citizen, and further stated," The Quorum Court cannot interfere with the General Assembly."
Justice of the Peace Darrel Kehrli, Dennis Burton and Greg Prenger discussed the reason for Newton County's ordinance, citing the possibility it was created in Newton County due to a much publicized issue related to poultry runoff in area lakes, streams and rivers. A motion was made to move on to other business and bring up the issue at another meeting after Kissee researches the origins of the Newton County ordinance and protection of private property. In a six to three vote, Justices Jeral Hastings, Ray Martin and Bartus Allen voted to take no action on the issue, while the others tabled the discussion pending furhter research. Brown ended the discussion stating, "This quorum court will not pass anything that will take away personal property rights."
In new business, the court passed Ordinance 2010-4, an amendment to Ordinance 2010-3. The ordinance was created because the Clerk's office had to move money to pay election, poll workers and commissioners for the upcoming election out of payroll.
The court then passed an ordinance to outlaw the purchase, possession, and sale of the commonly used smoking compound known as K2 and Spice. This was a huge step for the county giving law enforcement a tool to help control the issue. For more in depth coverage on this ordinance, see the article entitled "Sharp County outlaws K2" in this edition of the Villager Journal.
Prior to adjournment, Cave City Police Chief Ronny Milligan addressed the court regarding depleting radio communication issues. Milligan, who works as both the fire chief and as an EMT for Spring River Paramedic and Ambulance Service, explained the problems encountered by his department in receiving and transmitting radio communication in the Cave City area. Milligan said during a fire in the city limits of Cave City, Sharp County Central Dispatch paged the Cave City Fire Department and some of the firemen who lived in town did not receive the page, an obviously dangerous situation. Although Milligan professed that he did not work on radios, he knew that situation was very dangerous. He presented the court with a name and number of a person who may be able to help repair the problems. Discussion about the possible problem included possibly a broken wire or repeater. The court agreed to work to repair the issue.
The Sharp County Quorum Court meets the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. The public is always welcome to attend these meetings.