December 10, 2014 Edition

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Justices vote down
funds for Intermodal


Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Justices voted against a budget that included a $10,000 membership fee for the Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority during Monday night's Lawrence County Quorum Court meeting.

County Judge Dale Freeman has taken a firm stance against Intermodal, saying the county has gotten nothing back from the over $50,000 it has already put into Intermodal.

Justice Junior Briner, an Intermodal board member, said that there has actually been $155,000 spent in Lawrence County and it's the best chance for the county to attract larger industries.

Justice Lloyd Clark agreed with Briner, and he showed plans the Intermodal has developed for the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport. "They've spent some money in the community," Clark said.

Freeman went on to say the money spent in the county isn't doing the county any good and has been wasted on failed projects. He also said he hasn't been properly informed about plans for the county or been notified when Intermodal board members visit the county in attempts to advance projects.

Briner said he understood Freeman's frustrations but said the Intermodal has plans for bringing in 100 houses to Lawrence County as well as other projects, but it would all take some time.

Previously, Intermodal membership dues were $1,000 a year but the NEARIFA Board of Directors voted to raise it to $10,000 a year starting in 2015, which is more in line with what was charged when it was first launched.

Freeman said he is against giving Intermodal another cent and that he alone has done more to bring industry into Lawrence County than Intermodal has.

The court took a vote on a proposed 2015 budget that included $10,000 to be paid to Intermodal over a 12-month period. Justices Kenny Jones, Tracy Moore, Nathan Crafton, Donald Richey and Doug Wayland voted against the budget and Lloyd Clark, Jim Jones and Alex Latham voted for it with Briner abstaining.

Justices then approved a 2015 budget without the $10,000. Briner, Clark and Latham voted against the passing of the budget without the Intermodal line item.

In other business, justices:

  • authorized the road department to lease purchase a John Deere wheel loader to replace its front-end loader that has fallen into disrepair. It is a three-year lease with a dollar buyout. The total cost will be $165,000.

  • appropriated a rural development grant to the sheriff's department in the amount of $23,000 for the purchase of a new Dodge pickup truck.

  • authorized Freeman to sell timber located on acreage at the future site of the Lawrence County Shooting Range. Money made will go toward funding the shooting range.

  • agreed to set up a time for Infinite Benefit Solutions representatives to meet with county employees to provide information about their consolidated insurance plan. Should enough interest be shown, the county will consider switching to the new carrier.

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