County declines Scenic Byway status

Friday, August 20, 2004

The Carroll County Quorum Court unanimously approved opting out of Arkansas Scenic Byway designation for both state Highways 21 and 23 during its meeting Monday night in Berryville.

Petitions opposing the designations were presented from citizens in the areas of both highways.

The only support expressed was through County Judge Mike Botelho, who stated that Eureka Springs Mayor Kathy Harrison had expressed interest in the idea, and Laura Jo Smole, a Eureka Springs businesswoman and former city employee, who said she frequently is asked to provide directions to visitors wanting to travel scenic highways, taking them away from Carroll County.

Harrison and JP Morris Pate, who represents the immediate Eureka Springs area on the quorum court, were not in attendance at Monday's meeting.

The meeting was heavily attended, with standing-room only and several county officials and members of the press seated in the jury box of the courtroom.

Smole expressed concern that signage, particularly on Highway 23 north of Eureka Springs, could develop into a visual blight. Connie Gray, of Harrison, who works in outdoor advertising, took exception to a statement by Smole regarding limits on highway control of private property. "It's not just adjoining property or 1,000 feet, but the entire 'view shed'" which could be impacted, she said.

The resolution opting out of the Highway 21 Scenic Byway proposal was sponsored by Larry Swofford, who stated that "everyone knows" where he stands regarding private property rights.

The resolution opting out of Highway 23 was introduced from the floor by JP Anita Langhover, who lives at Holiday Island along Highway 23 and operates a business on Highway 21.

JP Eva Reeve opined that the state's plan is too vague, and that agriculture and what happens to property when it is sold is not addressed. "I think the state has done us a disservice," she said.

Richard Carlson, who operates a resort along Highway 23, disputed the idea that the Eureka Springs tourism industry would loose revenue without the Scenic Byway designation. "It's not going to make (the landscape) any prettier," he said.

Bill Ross, representing about 400 petitioners opposed to Highway 21's designation, expressed concern about controls and restrictions, and cautioned that a management plan regarding activities, procedures and strategies to maintain the elements of a Scenic Byway is open to broad interpretation.

Several citizens were apparently on hand in support of an ordinance recognizing the establishment of the Inspiration Point Rural Fire Protection District, and a resolution authorizing the county judge to apply for a grant on behalf of the Holiday Island Rural Fire District. Both measures were approved unanimously.

The Holiday Island Rural Fire District has raised $15,000 to construct a new facility for the district, increase the amount of equipment, and to place a fire station within five miles of all members of the district, to comply with ISO regulations. The $15,000 will be used to securing a state grant fund for $15,000 to assist in executing the project.

The JPs also unanimously approved a supplemental appropriation ordinance for $99,014.68 in Federal Emergency Management Funds received through the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. The money was designated for repair of damage, primarily to roads, which occurred during floods in April.

The funds were divided with $16,438 for salaries, $20,234 for fuel, $10,000 for tires, $48,000 for gravel, $3,343 for telephone, and $1,000 for land and buildings. Botelho stated that overtime accumulated during repair work because of the floods had been balanced by employees taking time off.

JPs approved the first reading of an ordinance clarifying an unwritten agreement with cities in the county eliminating fees for housing prisoners, once the new county detention facility becomes operational.

All fees due in the interim shall be paid in full before the respective city is exempted. Medical costs of any prisoner of a city remain the responsibility of that city.

With Langhover dissenting, the JPs approved the first reading of another ordinance formalizing a practice of 50 years of sharing costs for roadwork with various governmental entities in the county.

The ordinance limits the amount of the county road budget for such efforts to 10 percent, and there is no mandate in the ordinance requiring the county's financial assistance. The county limits its participation in such projects to labor and trucking of materials

Proposed projects which the county may assist in this year include two and one-half miles in Holiday Island, three and one-half blocks in Rule, about one-half mile in Oak Grove, and projects in Alpena and Beaver.

The ordinance is being enacted to link the traditional practice with an established ordinance.

Approval was also given to a supplemental appropriation ordinance changing a part-time position at the Eureka Springs Library to a full-time position. Of the county's three libraries, Eureka Springs was the only one with only one full-time employee.

Jean Elderwind, of the Carroll-Madison library system and the board of the Carnegie Library in Eureka Springs, said the funding for the full-time position resulted from prudent money management in taking care of repairs to the building and a $3,600 grant for equipment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

JPs approved a resolution authorizing the county judge to apply for a County Fair Grounds Grant through the Arkansas Rural Development Commission.

There has been $1,200 in cash raised as a local match for constructing a horse barn at the fairgrounds.

Republican candidate for county judge Richard Williams questioned inclusion of cable television and telephone service for prisoners in the new detention center under construction on Hailey Road in Berryville. He wondered if television might distract jailers from monitoring prisoners.

Sheriff Chuck Medford stated that television privileges as a means of discipline was a "great way" to control prisoners. Television and telephones would only be in a dayroom, and telephone service is strictly one-way collect, with the county getting a rebate for their use. "It's not for convenience," Medford said, adding that no television will be available for employees.

It was also noted that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of cable access for prisoners.

Botelho reported that Holly Smith of the circuit judge's office has been appointed to represent county employees on the county facilities commission; and that JP Ken Drezinski has been appointed to represent Carroll County on the board of the Office of Human Concern.

The judge also reported on various classes for grader operators scheduled this fall by the state. A grader operator certification class will be conduced Oct. 6-7 in Warren; and, locally, classes, open to public works department employees of cities within the county, will include off-road truck operation safety Oct. 21-22, and shop safety certification on Nov. 4.

JP Joe Mills reported regarding a recent meeting of the Association of Arkansas Counties, in which amendments extending term limits for state legislators, and authorizing $5 million for Super Project Funds to encourage a major industry employing at least 500 workers to be established in the state, were encouraged.

Mills also produced a plaque from AAC recognizing Carroll County for the fourth year straight for a spotless safety program.

In other action Monday night, The quorum court:

  • Observed a moment of silence in memory of Army Lt. James Michael Goins, who was killed on Aug. 15 in combat in Najaf, in southern Iraq, with Botelho proclaiming that all flags at county facilities be at half mast in his memory through Aug. 23;

  • Approved a resolution allowing Benton County Justice of the Peace Troy Tim Summers Jr. to solemnize a marriage in Eureka Springs on Sept. 5;

  • Heard a report from county health department inspectors regarding surveillance of St. Louis encephalitis and West Nile Virus. Carroll County is the only county in the state using CO2 bottles to trap mosquitoes, which carry the diseases. The inspectors encouraged continued awareness and elimination of stagnant water and the use of insecticide briquettes.

    See next week's Star-Tribune for a report on a quorum court meeting on employee raises.

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