Youth Leadership Academy: Students learn about local government
By Kelby Newcomb
Local high school freshmen in the Carroll County Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) got a behind-the-scenes look at local government Tuesday, Feb. 26.
Family and consumer science (FCS) agent Tamara Allen said the Carroll County Cooperative Extension Service is hosting the program to teach participating freshmen about themselves, their community, local needs and local issues. The theme of Tuesday’s session, she said, was “Judicial System and Local Government Day.”
The day kicked off with a tour of the Carroll County Detention Center, Allen said, and then the students visited the Carroll County Municipal Court in Berryville. She said they visited with Suzanne Villines at the Carroll County Probation and Parole Office and Ginger Johnson with the Juvenile Detention Center Office. Students then met with Carroll County Circuit Clerk Ramona Wilson, Circuit Judge Scott Jackson, public defender Beau Allen and deputy prosecuting attorney Craig Parker to learn about court proceedings.
After the tours, the students had lunch with both city and county officials at Faith Christian Church across from the courthouse in Berryville. Carroll County Extension Homemaker Club (EHC) members prepared the food, and the local officials shared a brief overview of what they do with the students.
District 3 Justice of the Peace Harrie Farrow said she started her first term on the Carroll County Quorum Court in January.
“I represent the Eureka Springs district,” she said. “There are 11 districts in the county, and mine consists of the city of Eureka Springs and a little bit outside of it. We meet once a month at the courthouse and oversee the county tax dollars.”
Farrow told the students that justices of the peace are responsible for distributing the county taxes that residents pay to institutions like public libraries and the sheriff’s office. The quorum court also approves county ordinances, she said, and oversees county employees.
Green Forest Mayor Jerry Carlton said he runs the day-to-day operations of the city. One of the biggest challenges for Green Forest right now, he said, is the growth in the area.
“There’s a lot of growth in Green Forest right now as far as industry and new housing,” Carlton said. “There are lots of things we’re really not prepared for, and that’s my biggest challenge right now is learning what direction we need to head.”
The city is currently expanding its wastewater treatment plant, he said, which is about a $10 million project.
“Once that’s completed, Tyson Foods is going to do another expansion,” he said. “They’re estimating another 300 jobs with the next expansion.”
Eureka Springs freshman Jacob Eastburn said he enjoyed learning more about local government.
“It was interesting to see how it all played out and how it affects our daily lives,” he said.
Green Forest freshman Logan Underdown said it was interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look.
“It was cool to see the parts you don’t really hear about,” he said. “It gave us more insight into how that all works.”
Allen said she enjoyed hearing from the students about how much they learned.
“They didn’t realize the county was split into two districts,” she said. “I think they learned a lot today.”