The Independence Quorum Court met Monday evening to approve the purchase of 5.6 acres adjacent to the county shop, juvenile detention center and the industrial park. The property is owned by Jerry Hayes and includes both land and a shop. County Judge Robert Griffin and Justice of the Peace Brent Henderson negotiated an offer to purchase the adjacent properties for $300,000 from the county road fund and transferal of the Mecham property.
They also approved an appropriation for the assessor’s office to purchase two new vehicles to conduct reappraisals. The current vehicles have been in service for about ten years. The appropriation comes from the Amendment 79 fund, which currently has $139,531 available.
In the departmental reports, Independence County Sheriff Shawn Stephens reported his department reported to 843 calls for service in March, including 27 accidents, 14 arrests, and 48 warrants served. The department issued 112 traffic warnings and issued 112 traffic citations. The department is seeking bids for new laptop computers.
The quorum court also passed an ordinance establishing a fund and budget for Wiley’s Road Home Pet Rescue Fund. The fund received a $3,000 grant.
In other business, a resolution was passed declaring the approval of the transfer of ownership the Fourche River Bridge to Independence County to help with the trails program and Van Thomas was reappointed to the facilities board.
Griffin updated quorum court members on the progress of Senate Bill 1390, which pertains to the second amendment in the Bill of Rights.
“I think the intent here from some of the members is to create an ordinance that mirrors the state once they do that,” Griffin said.
During the quorum court meeting, nothing was said publicly about a legal action filed earlier in the day by Independence County District Court Judge Chaney Taylor.
Griffin signed Independence County Court Order 2021-40 on March, 29, which states the county will not approve the hiring of a deputy clerk to fill the current vacant position, and maintains his authority and appropriate references thereto are contained within the document.
Tuesday, Taylor filed papers asking circuit court Judge Holly Meyer to declare Independence County Court Order 2021-40 unlawful, and declare the Independence County District Court is not required to petition the Batesville City Council to hire a replacement district court deputy clerk.
Taylor has appeared before the Independence County Quorum Court several times asking that the Independence County quorum court continue to fund four deputy clerks for his office.
One of the clerks retired on Feb. 19.
The county judge wants to transfer the money budgeted for the fourth clerk’s salary to the Independence County Sheriff’s Department and increase other county salaries.
Two weeks ago members of the Independence County Quorum Court’s budget committee: Charles Jordan, Tim Steward, Kenny Hurley, Mark Biram, and Brent Henderson; met with Taylor, District Court Clerk Tammy Gregory, Circuit Court Clerk Greg Wallis, and County Clerk Tracey Mitchell. The parties met March 29, to discuss the situation. Griffin and Independence County Treasurer Bob Treadway were also at the meeting. At the meeting Taylor asked the quorum court to wait until June 1 before eliminating the position, or modify the position to part-time. Henderson suggested Taylor could fill the vacant position now, if he cuts the position from the next budgeting cycle. Taylor and his clerks maintain specific job duties are mandated by the state. Some clerks can process payments, others can’t. With a staff of just three deputy clerks, it leaves the office short-staffed.
“Abraham Lincoln said: A man who represents himself, has a fool for a client. The adage was circulating before Abraham Lincoln was born. In that thought, our attorney said we could not lawfully approve the hiring of the position. If I decided otherwise, the above adage might apply. In following the law, I had to issue the court order as to not violate the law as explained by our attorney. I swore an oath to uphold the constitution and laws under that mandate. We will have an appropriate response filed in a timely fashion,” Griffin wrote in an email when asked for a comment on the proceedings.