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In This Issue


Arkansas coun- ties affected by spring flooding are proving their resiliency.


38


SPRING 2017


Inside Look Legislators address healthcare in extraordinary session .....................................11


Meet the four newest members of the AAC board of directors.


40


49th Annual AAC Conference registration information ........................................26 County officials meet for legislative recap ..............................................................30 Preserving History ........................................................................................................32 Directory updates and corrections............................................................................36 AAC hosts annual safety conference .......................................................................44 Quorum Court body holds Saturday meeting .........................................................45 Collectors meet at DeGray Lake Resort ..................................................................46 Coroners hold Aquatic Death course .......................................................................47 Little River County celebrates 150 years ................................................................48 Circuit clerks visit Capitol ...........................................................................................50 AAC staff profiles: Holland Doran and Awni Filat ...................................................51 NACo special report: Doing More with Less ............................................................52


Departments From the Director’s Desk ..............................................................................................7


President’s Perspective ................................................................................................9 From the Governor .......................................................................................................11 Attorney General Opinions .........................................................................................12 Research Corner ..........................................................................................................14 Governmental Affairs ..................................................................................................18 Legal Corner ..................................................................................................................19 Seems to Me .................................................................................................................21 County Law Update ......................................................................................................23 Savings Times 2 ...........................................................................................................25


Cover Notes: An aerial view of Northeast Arkansas flooding


were Randolph, Clay, Lawrence, White and Prairie. Man- datory evacuations were issued in communities along the Black River in Northeast Arkansas, and National Guards- men were dispatched to the area to aid with water rescue and transport missions. They worked alongside state and local agencies, as well as residents who volunteered to help those in need of food, shelter and transportation. Gov. Asa Hutchinson took an aerial tour of the devastated area. The severity of the damage led him to issue disaster declarations in 36 of Arkansas’ 75 counties. He also has requested an extension for replanting crops and housing aid. Still, by all accounts Arkansans are resilient in such situations. Turn to page 38 to read more.


M COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2017 5


ore than eight inches of rain in early May caused rivers in Arkansas to rise, flood- ing homes and businesses and damaging crops. Among the hardest hit counties


(Photo by Randall Lee, Governor’s Office)


STORY


Relief •Recovery •Resilience Arkansas counties devastated by flooding look to rebuild.


Story by Holland Doran AAC Communications Coordinator


dolph, Clay, Lawrence, White and Prairie. Te disaster may have knocked down local residents, but they didn’t stay down for long. Teir strength and resilience has propped them back up and moved them toward recovery. Randolph County Judge David Jansen said it was remark- able to see residents of his county, Arkansas and nearby states step in to help without missing a beat. “When you get in a situation like this, folks pull together and that’s what keeps you going,” he said. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson toured flooded areas in


C


Northeast Arkansas twice, the second time accompanied by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation. Te severity of the damage led the governor to issue di-


saster declarations for a total of 36 counties and two cit- ies. Tese included Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clay, Cleburne, Conway, Craighead, Cross, Drew, Faulkner, Fulton, Greene, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Mississippi, Monroe, Montgomery, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Prairie, Pulaski, Randolph, Sa- line, Searcy, Sharp, Stone, Washington, White, Woodruff and Yell counties. Te cities were Little Rock and North Little Rock. Hutchinson dispatched more than 120 Arkansas Army


38


ounties in Arkansas took a major hit in May as more than eight inches of rain caused rivers to rise, flooding cities, homes and businesses. Among the hardest-hit counties were Ran-


and Air National Guardsman and 25 guard vehicles to aid with high water rescue and transport missions. Tey worked alongside the Arkansas State Police, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and the Arkansas Department of Emer- gency Management (ADEM), making more than 50 water rescues in Randolph County alone. Beside them stood countless numbers of local law enforce- ment officials, organizations, businesses and volunteers, all ready to help those in need. Judge Jansen said he saw hundreds of people, such as the Randolph County Ministerial Alliance, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, volunteer their time at shel- ters, feeding families and emergency workers. “We train for events like this, and I saw how everybody just put the puzzle together to make sure there was no loss of life,” he said. “Tat was our No. 1 goal, and we achieved that because our state and local agencies worked hand and hand.” In his May 12, 2017, radio address, the governor recalled the words of ADEM’s Deputy Public Information Officer Melody Daniel: “Arkansas as a state is resilient to disasters.” Randolph County Clerk Debbie Wise, who is vice-pres- ident of the Association of Arkansas Counties board of di- rectors, echoed that sentiment. “Arkansans help each other … that’s just what they do,” she said. Tat’s exactly what Lawrence County Judge John Tomi-


son said he witnessed — residents of Lawrence County and of neighboring counties quickly jumping in to aid those in need of food, shelter and transportation. “I am proud and humbled … it takes my breath away,” he said. “I’m not surprised by our citizens, I’m just in awe of


COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2017


AAC F A M I L Y & F R I E N D S PROFILE Hearts for Service


The AAC board of directors welcomed four new members in 2017. Continue reading to learn more about the county officials who represent their associations on the board.


Profiles by Christy L. Smith and Holland Doran AAC Communications Staff


“I watched my grandmother take her last breath, and even though I was sad, I was like, ‘What is this death?’ I wanted to dig into death,” he said. After graduating from Lonoke High School, Hobbs joined the U.S. Army and worked in Mortuary Affairs at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. He began his career on the funeral home side of the business. However, he shifted to the coroner side when he learned more about forensics. Now he is in his fifth year as Pulaski County coroner. He previously worked as a field investigator for the Ar-


S


kansas State Crime Lab, as a deputy coroner for Pulaski County, and as chief deputy coroner for Pulaski County. Hobbs is active in the Arkansas Coroners’ Association,


having served as vice president for three years. He also sits on the legislative and continuing education committees. Hobbs was appointed to fill a vacancy on the AAC board this year, and he said he feels “honored.” “Te importance of the AAC to me is incredible,” Hobbs said. “Tey have your rules and regulations. Te AAC has it all for anybody that steps into county government.” Hobbs also is chair of the Arkansas Regional Organ Re-


covery Agency (ARORA) board, chair of Inner City Fu- turenet, past master of his Masonic Lodge, and an associate minister at St. Paul Baptist Church in Little Rock. Hobbs said his job can take an emotional toll, but it helps


to have a strong support system — someone to talk to. “My staff, all of us, when it comes to children, that’s al- ways a stressful time,” he said. Hobbs uses his position to help children. “I enjoy going to these high schools and these middle schools and talking to the kids about safety, especially to high school kids about driving. I’m passionate about the driving part because I lost a son in a car accident,” he said. Hobbs actually responded to that call, not knowing the victim was his son, 18-year-old Xavier, until he arrived at the scene of the accident. He said the event changed him and his approach to helping the families he encounters. “Tat day I understood my job,” he said. “People are at their lowest point [when a family member dies]. I was. My staff handled me with care. And that’s what we try to do with every family that comes through our office.” Hobbs and his wife, Courtney, have been married eight


years. He has two other sons — Quincy, 25, and Courtlon, 7 — and two daughters — Ryen, 19, and Judyth, 11.


40


ome boys want to be policemen or firemen when they grow up. Not Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs. At 12 he knew he wanted to in- vestigate death.


Hobbs has grown his staff during his tenure as coroner. When he was appointed to the position, he had only five deputies. Now the Pulaski County coroner’s office employs 13 people. Hobbs does not respond to calls much anymore. He stays busy writing coroner reports, issuing death certificates, con- ducting the day-to-day operations of his office and meeting with families. “People come in sometimes, and they just want to talk,”


Hobbs said. “I love to help folks. I take it personally. I take my job personally.”


Gerone Hobbs Pulaski County Coroner COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2017


COUNTY OFFICIAL


COVER


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