December 14, 2011 Edition

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County gets assistance from NRCS

Leslie Ginn
Staff Writer

County Judge Dale Freeman announced at the Quorum Court meeting Monday night that the county will get some additional assistance in making repairs to roads.

"We have been offered a great deal of money by the Natural Resources Conservation Services to help fix some damaged roads eroded by the spring flood," Freeman said.

In an interview following Monday night's meeting, District Conservationist Ben Starr explained that State Conservationist Mike Sullivan and State Engineer Walt Delp were instrumental in acquiring federal funds totaling $250,000 to be split between Lawrence and Randolph counties to repair problems resulting from flood erosion.

Approximately $150,000 to $200,000 will be spent in Lawrence County to finish Emergency Watershed Protection Projects. The projects focus on two water drainage areas, which, if not restored before another flood, could result in the collapse of a bridge or multiple bridges. Work will probably commence in the spring, weather permitting.

Steve Jones, director of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Lawrence County 911, presented information on OEM grant usage in Lawrence County.

"There has been over $784,641 brought into the county by way of grants since 2003," Jones said. "We have completely outfitted the Haz-Mat team, funded 911 hardware, installed radios in the road department and paid for 911 phase II, among other projects."

Jones received approval to spend the next phase of grant money. Plans include financially supporting the Sheriff's Office Dive Team and to fully certify each employee of the 911 office according to national standards. Once Emergency Medical Dispatch-qualified, the 911 dispatchers can offer medical advice over the radio.

Court Member Jim Jones discussed a conflict Lawrence County has with Attorney Jim Pedigo (from Mountain Home) regarding discrepancies over following the legislated procedure in contracting work for the public defender's office. Pedigo sent a letter mid-summer 2011 to Lawrence County requiring payment for services rendered that totaled $1,395.

Pedigo's services covered several counties and the bill was split between each county. Pedigo is now threatening to sue Lawrence County for non-payment.

"According to the law, Pedigo was supposed to have presented a line-item budget request previous to being paid. He didn't. Therefore, we are not required to pay him," said JP Jones.

The court voted to not pay Pedigo's bill at this time.

In other business:

  • the millage for Westside School District was updated for the 2012 county budget with a slight increase.

  • FEMA funds were transferred into the county road department to cover expenditures on roads because of 2011 disasters.

  • court members discussed a peanut storage company that is researching Lawrence County as a possible location.

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