Hempstead County Quorum Court

The Hempstead County Quorum Court met Thursday March 12th for what was originally termed a special meeting. The meeting began with Judge Jerry Crane introducing new JP Robert “Whit” Whitlock. Whitlock was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the death of JP Olen Dorman.

JP Ed Darling moved the meeting designation be changed from “special” to “regular” as the Quorum Court doesn’t anticipate any need to meet during the regularly scheduled time of the 4th Thursday of the month.

The JP’s heard from a representative of Tyson, Bob Chavis, concerning a new feed mill the poultry company wants to build near Cross Roads that will serve the Hope and Nashville Tyson plants. The representative said the plant would process 18,000 tons of feed per week. It would eventually employ 50 people per week. Construction time would be 14 months with about a 40 person crew on the construction site.

JP Ed Darling said $9 million dollars is needed to improve highway 195 from Fulton to Cross Roads. $3 million will come from Tyson, $3 million from ArDOT, and $1.5 million from AEDC in the form of a grant. In addition, Hempstead County agrees to take over maintenance of portions of three lightly traveled state highways. These highways include portions of 332, 334,and 355. The total area is about 10 miles. The JP’S approved a resolution to cement this agreement with the state putting in an additional $1.5 million dollars in the project in lieu of the county taking over those roadways. The JP’s also approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of industrial development revenue bonds to finance the complex. The complex will receive tax abatement in the amount of $32 million for ten years with the company paying taxes on a valuation of $32 million for that period and then the full $64 million value after ten years.

After the Tyson votes, JP Darling noted that bids on the courthouse renovation had been delayed due to interest from contractors. He said the bid notices will be first published next week. Darling said the $65 million dollar project will be second only to the Turk Plant in terms of the largest capital expenditures in Hempstead County history.

Terrie James of the Cooperative Extension Service said their organization has prepared an overview of county finances from 1999 to 2017 and will distribute that to the JP’s. She also noted County Agent Stacey Stone has taken the Staff Chairman position in Nevada County.

JP James Griffin says he plans to have the proposed new county handbooks at the April meeting.

Judge Crane noted there will be a meeting at the Courthouse Friday morning at 10 with Clay Hobbs of Pafford to discuss the Corona virus and the public is welcome. The meeting then adjourned.