The quorum court passed four resolutions yesterday in support of a grant application for some $234,000 in COVID-19 assistance for rural hospitals for Chicot Memorial Medical Center.
The funds come through the Arkansas Community and Economic Development Program through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. In order to receive the funds, the court is required to approve the resolutions, County Judge Mack Ball Jr. said. These type resolutions are routinely passed when receiving federal monies, as there are usually strings attached to any such funds.
But it appeared that passage of one of the resolutions might be in doubt when discussion broke out in objection to the county being required to resolve to do what Sheriff Ron Nichols said it is already doing and has always done regarding use of force. The resolution, No. 2020-07, ultimately passed on a vote of yes by four justices, no by two, and with three justices abstaining.
The other three resolutions passed easily. They were to authorize the county judge to apply for the grant, designate Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District, Inc. as the project administrator, and to follow through with a citizen participation plan to provide for citizen input into planning for use of the funds.
In his regular hospital report, Administrator John Heard said the county is seeing “a slight outbreak” in COVID-19 cases and CMMC has some COVID patients. He said staff is taking precautions to prevent any spread in the facility and told justices that inside the hospital is among the safest places they could be.
The increase in cases appears to be in the southern part of the county, according to reports.
Judge Ball reported that the return of the Sunnyside road to gravel has been accomplished. He further reported, as a follow up to last month’s meeting when he was asked to investigate any possible change in the use of sales tax funds to help fund emergency services including ambulance service, that any change would require a vote of the people. He said that should any new proposal fail, the current use of the tax would continue. No action was taken in that regard.
Heard told the court that he has come up with a possible solution to the ambulance problem, that he needed to discuss it with Ball, and would be presenting it to his board last night.
Justice Terri McCullough reported that an application to the Federal Highway Commission to change the Great River Road to an All American Road designation has been successfully submitted. She expressed hope that it would be approved by Thanksgiving.
McCullough said there are currently only 31 highways designated as All American Roads and that such a designation would likely bring many tourists to the area as well as federal funds to improve sites such as Lakeport and Lake Chicot State Park as well as highway improvement monies.
County Collector Gail Seamans reported that tax collections are up $75,000 from this time last year.