AAC County Lines

County Lines ([ISSN 2576-1137 (print) and ISSN 2576-1145 (online)] is the official publica- tion of the Association of Arkansas Counties. It is published quarterly. For advertising inquiries, subscriptions or other information, please con- tact Christy L. Smith at 501.372.7550.

Executive Director/Publisher Chris Villines

Communications Director/ Managing Editor Christy L. Smith

Communications Coordinator/ Editor

Holland Doran AAC Executive Board:

Debbie Wise – President Brandon Ellison – Vice President Rhonda Cole – Secretary-Treasurer

Tommy Young Debra Buckner Kevin Cleghorn Debbie Cross Ellen Foote

Gerone Hobbs

John Montgomery David Thompson

Terri Harrison Sandra Cawyer Terry McNatt

Brenda DeShields Jimmy Hart

Marty Boyd Heather Stevens

National Association of Counties (NACo) Board Affiliations

Debbie Wise: NACo board member. She is the Randolph County Circuit Clerk and presi- dent of the AAC Board of Directors.

Brandon Ellison: NACo board member. He is the Polk County Judge and vice-president of the AAC Board of Directors.

Ted Harden: Finance & Intergovernmental Af- fairs Steering Committee. He serves on the Jefferson County Quorum Court.

David Hudson: Vice Chair of NACo’s Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is the Sebastian County Judge and member of the Rural Action Caucus Steering Committee.

Barry Hyde: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is the Pulaski County Judge.

Gerone Hobbs: Membership Committee. He is the Pulaski County Coroner.

Kade Holliday: Arts and Culture Committee and International Economic Development Task Force. He is the Craighead County Clerk.

Paul Ellliot: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He serves on the Pulaski County Quorum Court.

Ellen Foote: Community, Economic & Work- force Development Steering Committee. She is the Crittenden County Tax Collector.

Tawanna Brown: Telecommunications & Technol- ogy Steering Committe. She is the Crittenden County Chief Computer Operator.



Counties well positioned to bear hope for those addicted to drugs


.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, “Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.” Taking a close look at the cover of this issue of our magazine provides a great example of despair. Tis level of anguish may be something most of us don’t see in a day, a week, a month or a year … but unfortunately many Arkansans feel this level of pain every day.

Chris Villines AAC

Executive Director Tis manifestation of pain can come from many sources, and the impact can

run shallow or deep. It can result from many situations, such as divorce, loss of life, failings in one’s career, or fiscal distress. It runs through families, and often it results in crime, abuse, jail time, suicide, or worse. In county government, we often believe there is not much we can do about these

problems for folks (notwithstanding our immediate family). I submit, however, that there are those few times and situations where we can make a difference. And I like to think that we are and will continue to do so. Te cover story in this magazine is on mental health — and the crisis stabiliza- tion units (CSUs) in our state that counties are opening up. When mental health issues present during crimes or potential crimes, our jails often have found them- selves as the housing of last resort. Tis situation is unfortunate and does not serve the arrestee or society well. Tere is hope. I am proud of the county and state partnership and leadership in the develop- ment of our CSUs, four of which will lead a new path in trying to accommodate and turn around the problem. AAC Chief Legal Counsel Mark Whitmore and many county officials worked hard on this issue over the last few years, and the fruits of their labor are about to help good Arkansans who would otherwise be hopeless. Tis embodiment of serving is what drove many of you to public office. As we build out this chapter and our potential help for the mentally ill in our state, another scourge continues to intensify, one not new to our state but growing rapidly: drug abuse. A year ago conventional thinking was that our masses hooked on opioids would evolve into a heroin epidemic, and in part, this is true. But the sad reality is that as the opioid supply begins to dry up a huge demand is develop- ing for all sorts of other drugs — expanding to cheap and deadly alternatives such as fentanyl and methamphetamines. As we speak, the wheels of justice are turning in the form of multiple opioid lawsuits across the country, including our own well-positioned and strategically brilliant case, which combines the state of Arkansas, her counties and cities in a state, not federal, case. Tis case continues to evolve, and there are incredible similarities between the opioid epidemic and mental health issues in our state. In fact, many frequent fli- ers to our jails are hooked on drugs and suffering from mental illness at the same time. Unfortunately, the treatment for the two problems is disparate, and untan-

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