The July Van Buren County Quorum Court meeting, while largely routine, did deal with mid-year budget issues, as well as complete the steps needed for new equipment for the county’s 911 center.


The 911 funding approved at the meeting was the culmination of work as the center bid for new equipment and gained a grant for what amounted to a $142,127.04 expense to upgrade the system.


Funding for 911 has been an ongoing issue in the county since an effort, first presented last November in an intergovernmental meeting, asking for cities and the counties to share in the expense for the Fairfield Bay -based 911 Center. Discussions remain underway for cities and the county to place 911 funding into their respective 2019 budgets. Budget pressures for 911 operation had increased in recent years the 911 money from landlines is greater than cell phone monies of over $1 for landlines and 65 cents for cell phone. As more household end landline service in favor of cell phone only, 911 money has diminished.


As presented to the council at the July 19 meeting, monies for the 911 upgrade will include a loan plus a grant of $41,000 from the United States Department of Agricultural Rural Housing Services. The court, prior to the vote, was presented the process used to find the best value for the center upgrade, including the bids made from other vendors. The winning bidder was AT&T. In previous meetings the court had heard why the system needed to be upgraded, in order to meeting contemporary phone service standards.


The court voted unanimously to accept the


funding. Judy Wells, 911 head, said the upgrade should be underway shortly, once the funding was approved.


Budget consideration was also part of the sheriff department’s presentation to the court. Sheriff Randy Gurley, following up from a point made at last month’s meeting, said the department’s fuel expenses were up due to increased activity by the department, but currently he was able to keep patrols underway by careful budgeting. Gurley did tell the court that the need for additional money for fuel was possible by the end of the year based on current activity.


Gurley also presented to the court that one of the department Tahoes had been totaled in an accident and a settlement check of just over $30,000 had been received by the insurance company. A replacement vehicle had been found, Gurley told the court, pointing out that, as he had predicted, the Tahoe patrol vehicles were holding their value well, as reflected by the $30,000 check for a one year old totaled unit. The replacement unit will cost $34,753 and was approved by unanimous vote.


Justice Dell Holt had several questions for Gurley about the nature of the accident and concern that the officer involved may have been in accidents in department vehicles in the past.


“We don’t need officers who don’t pay attention [when driving],” Holt said.


A final Sheriff’s department expense discussion was regarding an inmate at the jail and the possible need for cancer treatment. Gurley explained that the jail’s doctor had not yet prescribed the man cancer treatment, counter to what an outside party, possibly the man’s personal physician, had called for, the court was told. As such that expense had not been realized by the sheriff’s department, and would not be unless prescribed by the jail’s doctor. Should the treatment be prescribed, that cost would fall upon the jail, Gurley explained to the court.


To a question by Justice Jackie Sikes, Gurley said the department is “still working on” an auction for guns no longer being held as evidence.


In other Quorum Court matters:


An ordinance was passed funding $102,000 for the courthouse to upgrade its electrical system. The court heard that the system in place was incapable of supporting any additional equipment.


Animal control reported having taken in 14 dogs and 16 cats the previous month. It is a “big problem now that they’re being dumped up there at the lake,” Animal Control Deputy Tim Pike told the court.


Leanna Brown presented on behalf of Juvenile Court Troy Braswell about the court’s work in reducing recidivism, specifically in creating a series of classes for girls brought before the court. “I feel like the recidivism rate will drop tremendously with this,” Brown told the court. An additional $1,000 was appropriated for the court to fund the classes.


Three resolutions were passed authorizing the County Judge to apply for grants for the Fair Association, the Choctaw Volunteer Fire Department and the Chimes Volunteer Fire Department.