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STORY Prairie County Continued From Page 29 <<<


in 2005 and how the county carried on through increased mandates paired with stagnate or declining revenues. “Our police cars were in tough shape and the money was tight and our sheriff really understood the situation and figured out a way to go without a deputy and slowly work through replacing our fleet within a tight budget,” Holloway said. “Our department heads present their budgets and we look at revenue projections and start to make cuts. Our road department and all of our department heads have done an outstanding job in managing this county and making it work.” Prairie County Assessor Jeannie Lott has made several improve- ments in her office since 2010. She said the system was antiquated and did not have any scanners and nothing online. Now the office boasts personal and real property online assessing, digital county deeds and they make those digital files available online. “We’ve basically gone digital for efficiency and convenience for our


tax payers,” Lott said. Prairie County Treasurer Judy Burnett explained her perspective of county revenue and expenditures and described an ongoing transi- tion in all treasurer’s offices across the state. Burnett said revenues keep decreasing, not necessarily in large amounts but they do keep decreasing incrementally while the cost with running the county keeps increasing. “Every county treasurer has also dealt with the new county financial management system that changes all the revenue codes and expenditure codes that we have used for years,” Burnett said. “All treasurers have to implement the new codes by January 2014. We started in 2012 and it is fully implemented at this time.” Burnett said it was quite an undertaking to change what they have been doing but now that it is changed... it is a “much better system.” Recently, community leaders started an organization called “Mov-


ing Prairie County Forward.” Representatives from all of the cities and communities, schools and banking institutions have banded together to let the rest of the state and nation know what Prairie County has to offer. Skarda said he was extremely proud of saving a 100-year-old


church — First Presbyterian Church of Des Arc — from its destruc- tion and help it be reborn as the county’s library. “We are in the process of renovating a beautiful 100-year old


church into our county library. Te building was going to be given to the school and eventually torn down. After much discussion with the Presbyterian leaders it was deeded to Prairie County,” Skarda said. “Work will start in the next few weeks on a new roof and later in the summer, the building will be rewired and brought up to modern standards. One goal for the future is to host community concerts so all can enjoy the sounds of the 100-year old pipe organ.” Te church features breathtaking stained glass in every window. Skarda is realistic about his county’s challenges in revenue currents, but said he knows the people of Prairie County will continue to row their vessel together. “My goals for Prairie County are to see us move forward. I would like to see us be able to bring more people into the county by pro- moting a positive image and quality of life,” Skarda said. “We have two wonderful school districts that employ some of the greatest and most successful teachers and administrators around. Our schools truly are the heartbeat of the county. Prairie County is also a sports- man’s paradise; we offer some of the best hunting and fishing in the state. We’ve just got to let people know what all we have to offer.”


30 COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2013


This stained glass is located in the First Presbyterian Church of Des Arc. The church was to be demolished, but it will now be the home of the county library.


COVER


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