Friday, July 18, 2014

TOP STORY >> Quorum court honors lifesaver

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County contractor Barry Weathers and his wife, Patti, the county treasurer, were honored with plaques at Thursday’s Lonoke Quorum Court meeting for their role in saving the life of a young boy.

Both Weathers were given the plaques by Sheriff John Staley. Barry Weathers was also honored with a special resolution from the quorum court. He received a standing ovation from everyone at the meeting.

Weathers downplayed the incident, saying he just happened to be the first one there, and it was the sheriff’s department that calmed the chaos of the event and directed the medical helicopter in.

According to the resolution, Weathers was being honored for his “quick action, performance during an emergency and skill in saving the life of a drowning victim on July 4 in rural Lonoke County.”

At an Independence Day celebration, a 3-year-old child was found floating in a residential swimming pool. The proclamation said the “unresponsive child was brought out of the water, hands and lips blue, with no heartbeat or breathing. Upon hearing the cries for help, Barry immediately ran to the pool area, took charge of a very dire, chaotic situation and began CPR.”

Weathers said he performed CPR for the nine minutes it took the ambulance to get there. “It took about seven minutes for the child to actually take a breath,” he said.

After the incident, Weathers’ brother, Larry, told Barry, “I saw what you were doing and didn’t want to interfere, so I just prayed hard.”

Weathers said that praying contributed to the boy’s recovery as much as his CPR efforts.

The boy, taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, was released the next day “with an excellent prognosis for a full recovery with no adverse effects and will go on to lead a normal, healthy childhood,” according to the resolution.

Weathers’ son, JP B.J. Weathers, introduced the resolution. “Proudly, in my dad’s honor, I make the motion to approve this resolution,” he said. It was unanimously approved.

Patti Weathers was given a plaque for her efforts to get the sheriff’s department and others on the scene with updated information.

Staley said, “I know 911 was bombarded with calls, but Patti called me directly and made sure I was exactly aware of the severity of the situation and made sure that I had the helicopter coming in. She saved precious moments for that child, and I’m sure it made the difference.”

Weathers downplayed his role, but did admit that his phone had been jammed up with positive and congratulatory messages, especially from the boy’s family.

In other quorum court business:

• It took more than 30 minutes of debate, but the court did vote to dissolve the Grand Prairie/Bayou Two water board in favor of a water authority that had already been established through state law to oversee the water entity. The ordinance was tabled last month after it was brought to the court with no notice and the JPs wanted time to research exactly what was in it.

Switching from a water board to a water authority, by state law, gives Grand Prairie/Bayou Two more ability to raise money and issue bonds, more power to set rates and to condemn property.

JP Larry Odom said the old board made the water entity grow without using any condemnation powers or raising rates.

The vote was not unanimous as JP Mike Verkler still wasn’t happy with the whole affair after all the debating.

Nearly all the JPs were upset that the water entity basically went behind the quorum court’s back to form the new governing body and then, as their last action, moved for the dissolution of the old water board.

Verkler was upset that the water group never came before the council with its bylaws, which state that the new authority board members get to replace successor board members instead of the ratepayers.

The attorney for the water entity said it would discuss changing the bylaw to allow ratepayers to elect board members, but that the court couldn’t force the issue.

At this point, the changeover means very little in the day-to-day operations of the water entity.

But Grand Prairie/Bayou Two is moving into the wastewater/sewer end of the business and charging customers a minimum of $40 a month, which is higher than most surrounding areas.