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News
County retires debt

Independence County will be completely debt-free in 2022. The quorum court voted to retire outstanding obligations on election, 911, and county road equipment, as well as, the district judge retirement pension.

That’s not all the county will be celebrating in January.

The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission presented Independence County with a “Our Beloved Community Partner” award at the beginning of the quorum court meeting for the county’s efforts in promoting education and positive development in the community where all are valued and welcome. The organization also held a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce and presented an award to the city.

In recent years, groups participate in community service projects during a nationwide day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January.

Batesville resident Andy Montgomery serves on the commission and Dr. DuShun L. Scarbrough presented the proclamation to Independence County Judge Robert Griffin.

The judge signed a document proclaiming October to be 4-H Month in Independence County recognizing the 300 4-H Club participants throughout the county.

In other business, the court amended appropriation Ordinance 2021-24 in order to establish a fund entitled the American Rescue Plan Act Replacement Revenue Fund and passed Ordinance 2021-23 establishing hazard pay incentives for all eligible essential employees who worked during certain time periods in 2020.

In September the Independence County Sheriff’s Office responded to 31 accidents, responded 645 calls for service, issued 130 traffic warnings and 59 traffic citations, and made 18 arrests.

After quorum court, members of the road and solid waste committees approved the budgets presented by those departments.


LEFT: At 99 years of age, Lorena Hubbard, is living proof that you never outgrow a trip to the pumpkin patch. Hubbard was part of a group from Eagle Mountain Assisted Living in Batesville who recently visited Pebbles Farm in Augusta. BOTTOM LEFT: Betty McCluskey, from left, Barabara Stevenson and Polly Johnson enjoy a wagon ride through the sunflower fields recently while on a visit to Pebbles Farm in Augusta. The residents also enjoyed eating a picnic lunch, strolling through the petting zoo and shopping in the general store. BOTTOM RIGHT: Trish Boylan rests beside a scarecrow recently while on a trip to Pebbles Farm in Augusta with friends from the Eagle Mountain Assisted Living center in Batesviille.


Betty McCluskey, from left, Barabara Stevenson and Polly Johnson enjoy a wagon ride through the sunflower fields recently while on a visit to Pebbles Farm in Augusta. The residents also enjoyed eating a picnic lunch, strolling through the petting zoo and shopping in the general store.


News
DHS makes reports on Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities available online

Reports tied to the licensing and monitoring of Arkansas’s Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities are now accessible online, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today. People seeking this information will no longer need to file a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents.

Reports from the last five years for each facility can be downloaded through a new public drive linked off the DHS website, and future reports will be added going forward as soon as they are publicly available.

“These reports offer important insights into how these facilities are caring for the youths they treat under the state regulations they are required to follow,” said Tonya Williams, Director of the DHS Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education. “We are pleased to be able to make this information easily available for review by advocates, stakeholders, the media, parents, or anyone else with an interest in learning more about how these facilities are being operated.”

There are three DHS divisions that play a role in licensing or monitoring these types of facilities: Williams’ early education division, the Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance, and the Division of Medical Services. Documents from all three divisions are available on the new public drive. Available documents include monitoring and complaint visit reports, corrective action plans and, if applicable, notices of adverse action.

These reports have always been public documents, but previously they were available only by submitting a Freedom of Information Act request.

The new public drive eliminates the need to submit a formal request, streamlining the process for obtaining the reports. This is the second time that DHS has moved large amounts of documents online for easy access. In 2019, DHS made all Office of Long-Term Care nursing home monitoring reports available online.

Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities provide a range of comprehensive services to treat the psychiatric condition of patients under the age of 21, on an inpatient basis under the direction of a physician. The purpose of such comprehensive services is to improve the patient’s condition or prevent further regression so that the services will no longer be needed.

The facilities in Arkansas are Centers for Youth and Families – Elizabeth Mitchell Centers, The Centers for Youth and Families Monticello, Dacus RTC -UMCH, Delta Family Health and Fitness for Children, Little Creek Behavioral Health, Millcreek of Arkansas PRTF, Neurorestorative Timber Ridge, Perimeter Behavioral of Forrest City, Perimeter Behavioral of West Memphis, Perimeter of the Ozarks, Piney Ridge Treatment Center, United Methodist Children’s Home (UMCH-LR), and Youth Home Inc.


Trish Boylan rests beside a scarecrow recently while on a trip to Pebbles Farm in Augusta with friends from the Eagle Mountain Assisted Living center in Batesviille.


Weather

Thursday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 2 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 80. Light south wind increasing to 5 to 10 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Thursday night: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 66. South wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

Friday: Showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 80. South wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

Friday night: Showers and thunderstorms likely before 8 p.m. Mostly clear, with a low around 48. North northwest wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.


News
AG hosts law enforcement summit

Rutledge

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge recently hosted the 2021 Law Enforcement Summit at the Benton Event Center. Nearly 300 law enforcement personnel from across the State attended the 19th annual summit and heard from experts on recent issues facing the law enforcement community, including de-escalation, intervention and recognizing force mitigation opportunities.

“In Arkansas, we don’t defund the police, we defend the police,” Rutledge said.

“As Chief Law Enforcement Officer, I will take every opportunity to invest in our men and women in blue and honor these brave heroes for what they do every day to protect our state,” she added

The summit presentations were given by Lieutenant Jim Glennon, the director of training and owner of Calibre Press. Lt. Glennons presentations focused on de-escalation, keys to de-escalating effectively, introduction to what is the meaning of Force Mitigation Opportunities and the concept and practice of intervention. Bob McMahan, Arkansas’s Prosecutor Coordinator updated participants on legislative issues that impact law enforcement in the state.

“Communication is the most important of all skills for those in the public safety profession,” Glennon said.

“We must communicate these skills to deescalate situations to protect citizens and our fellow officers and I appreciate Attorney General Rutledge for giving us a space to continue this crucial training for our men and women in law enforcement.”

Rutledge will honor the 2021 Arkansas Officer of the Year, Region Officer of the Year, and County Officer of the year at a luncheon on Jan. 13, 2022 at the Benton Event Center.


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