December 9, 2009 Edition

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JPs hear from concerned citizen

Leslie Ginn
Staff Writer

Darrell Geurin presented numerous concerns to the Quorum Court at its regular December meeting held one week early.

Geurin began his presentation quoting from the Arkansas Freedom of Information Handbook outlining the rights citizens of Arkansas hold in terms of legislative intent. Legislative intent is defined as allowing citizens access to public records "in an open and public" manner according to the tenets outlined by the law.

Geurin claimed that his rights have been violated by Lawrence County officials in regards to both legislative intent and freedom to speak within a respectful atmosphere.

"On May 14, I made a request to get information from public records from the county clerk's office, but did not receive them for 87 days, and not until an attorney from Little Rock faxed a letter asking for county cooperation, at my request."

County Clerk Tina Stowers said, "I did not get anything from an attorney in Little Rock. I gave (Geurin) everything he asked for that I had. Some information we are not required to save past five years and he requested information back to 1994."

County Attorney Dick Jarboe stated that he also had not received any communication from the Little Rock lawyer to whom Guerin referred.

Some of the records that Guerin requested were at the county judge's office, not in county clerk's records. County Judge Alex Latham said, "If you would come and ask for these records at my office, you would not be denied."

Guerin expressed that he felt he had been poorly treated when he last visited with Latham in his office, as well as in the past Quorum Court meetings in which he spoke.

"I feel I have been lied to, kicked around and shouted at, but I don't want this anymore, we need to be civil with each other," he said.

Guerin's major concern centered on his belief that "the county has bought hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment without a bid as required by law." He said, "This court is not doing the right thing. There has been crime, collusion, conspiracy and fraud."

Latham responded, "We have bought used equipment, as allowed by law, in an effort to save the county money. I have not stolen one dime from this county and don't expect to start."

Court member Dean Davis asked Geurin, "What exactly do you think should be happening that is not?"

Geurin said, "We need a government that is accountable and that doesn't deny the citizens their rights, including the right to speak in a respectful atmosphere."

Although no resolution was met, Davis said, "I hope we don't give up. We, as Lawrence County, need to get along."

In other business:

  • Sherri Sparks announced that the county had received a Homeland Security Grant of $51,299.29. Approximately $34,000 will be used by Haz-Mat, while the remaining $17,300 will be used by the Sherriff's Department to buy camcorders. This is an 80/20 grant.

  • Latham announced that the county had been declared a disaster area by the federal government because of the recent rainfall. Information is still expected to come that will outline what the county must do to receive available federal disaster funds.

  • Latham reported that the county is ending the year fiscally secure and with a balanced budget. He thanked all the elected officials and others who helped keep the county within the 2009 budget allowances.

  • it was announced that because of failing health, William Staudt has resigned from the Hospital Board of Governors. His wife, Bonnie Staudt, was appointed to finish out the rest of the term.

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