January 10, 2007 Edition

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Judge delivers state
of county report to JPs

County Judge Alex Latham delivered his state of the county address to the Quorum Court on Monday night.

Latham said the county finished 2006 in the black and is doing well. He gave credit to all the county's elected officials for staying within their budgets, giving special praise to County Treasurer Lyda Harris, for her work.

"The best friend a county judge can have is a good treasurer, and Lyda is a good treasurer," he said. "She keeps us up to date on things. She's been a big asset to me in the years that we have served."

Latham said while they came out ahead in 2006, there are some projects the county would like to do that there is not enough revenue to accomplish.

"We just have to do the best we can with what we have," he said. "The hardest part of my job is having to tell someone we can't do something because we don't have the money."

Latham said the county's sales tax revenue was up approximately two percent in 2006, but operation costs are increasing at an even greater rate.

Latham has a special word of thanks for being able to continue to serve.

"I'm going into my 19th year in office and want to thank the citizens of Lawrence County for having the confidence in me to elect me to another term," he said.

Also on Monday, Latham read a letter to the 911 Communications Center from Alan Haskins, Walnut Ridge fire chief. The letter praised the actions of one of the operators in reference to an automobile accident on Dec. 30 that resulted in the death of a mother and child and serious injuries to the father.

Haskins praised operator Rocky Chappel, who stayed on the line with the injured man, who was unable to move, and helped emergency officials find him.

"The caller could not move or help locate the other victims or help responders locate the accident," Haskins wrote. "911 operator Rocky Chappel took the call and kept the injured caller on the phone and directed responders to the exact location of the accident by giving the rescuers directions over the radio to the victims by the sounds of the sirens and air horns. He would ask the caller if the sirens were getting closer or farther away, then direct the responders accordingly.

"His actions, in my opinion, helped save the life of the caller. Again, I commend Rocky for his quick thinking and professional actions taken that morning."

In other business, the court: