August 13, 2008 Edition

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Leslie Ginn
Staff Writer

After a lengthy discussion on the use of Sharp County gravel on Lawrence County roads, the Quorum Court voted unanimously to uphold the work of County Road Foreman Keith Freeman and Lawrence County Judge Alex Latham.

Darrell Geurin and Lee Stuart, both of Lynn, presented questions regarding the decisions to continue to buy gravel outside of Lawrence County.

Stuart reported that the county had tested his gravel, but he stated that he believed there was plenty of gravel available on his property although it may need to be screened, or sifted, to separate excess dirt from gravel.

"Our gravel should not and does not need to come out of another county," Stewart said. Latham reported, "The test results from Stuart's gravel showed that his gravel had 55 percent dirt, while Sharp County gravel only had 29 percent dirt."

Geurin said he felt the testing of Stuart's gravel did not reflect a fair representation of what is available. Geurin also presented figures that supported his stand that Lawrence County would save money if gravel were purchased from within the county.

"The point is that this county is spending more time on travel for gravel than production," Geurin said. "I believe you are spending three times the amount needed on gravel by hauling out of county."

"We had rather buy gravel from a Lawrence County taxpayer," Latham responded, "but we also have to answer to the taxpayers who 10 to one say they prefer to have white chat, not red gravel."

Freeman agreed, saying, "According to the taxpayers' complaints received by the road department, they don't like the red dust produced by the gravel found in this county. Some of the quality of Lawrence County gravel is close to what we haul out of Sharp County, but the consistency of quality is not here."

Lawrence County maintains over 14,000 miles of road on a total budget of approximately $1,135,000 per year. This money is allotted at $175,000 for gravel, $150,000 for fuel, oil and lubricants, $180,000 for truck maintenance and $630,000 to pay salaries of the road crew.

A vote of confidence was unanimously approved expressing the justices faith in the decisions made by Freeman and Latham and their support for the way the roads are maintained.

Craig Stone, quorum court member, expressed interest in making efforts to find suitable gravel in Lawrence County. Latham encouraged him to do so, and Freeman offered his help.

Also on Monday, it was announced that the Quorum Court has called for a public hearing for individuals in the area surrounding the Walnut Ridge city limits to discuss the possibility of forming a Rural Fire Improvement District. The meeting will be held at Wallin Agri Aviation, located at 962 Lawrence Road 612, at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 22.

Approximately 250 individuals receive fire protection at the cost of $500 per visit from the fire department. If a rural fire protection district were in effect a yearly fee estimated at under $65 would be paid instead of the $500 fee.

In other business:

  • it was announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded Lawrence County a $12,145.62 Emergency Management Performance Grant as a result of the flooding experienced this past spring.

  • it was decided that all courthouse employees should work a regular five-day, 40-hour week. This was announced to clear up any confusion that occurred when it was announced that each department could manage its employees' weekly hours. It was intended that employees would work either eight hours per day, five days per week or 10 hours per day, four days per week, not drop to a 32-hour week.

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