Wednesday, March 25, 2015

TOP STORY >> Elevator funds for courthouse

Leader staff writer

The Lonoke County Quorum Court last Thursday approved $35,000 toward the installation of an elevator for the courthouse.

The funds were taken out of the county’s housing bond money to cover the difference needed to complete the $282,000 elevator project.

“There were five bids that came in for the elevator. We were originally quoted $180,000. In reality, the lowest bid was $282,000. It was $100,000 more than we anticipated in the beginning,” County Judge Doug Erwin said.

Erwin said the county received a $140,000 grant along with General Improvement Funds grant money — $30,000 from Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot), $30,000 from  Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe) and $50,000 from former Rep. Davy Carter (R-Cabot).

Adding the elevator required that staff offices, including the one used by Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Graham, be relocated to the old sheriff’s office and call center.

JP Bill Ryker said there is $63,000 available with additional GIF funds that were promised for renovations and remodeling of the old sheriff’s office and call center.

In other business, the quorum court will have to vote again during the next meeting on an ordinance amending the 2014 operating budget for a cost-of-living adjustment of $300 per employee and elected officials.

The total cost of the raises would be $25,000.

The vote was 8-4 for, with one absent. But, since it was an apportion, them measure needed nine votes to pass.

Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley commended the CS and Z Volunteer Fire Department for rescuing a woman during the icy weather on Feb. 17 along Forbus Road.

The woman’s truck ran off the road and was on its side in a water-filled ditch. She had been stuck in the truck for two hours until a passerby reported the vehicle to emergency official.

The woman could not get out because there was a tree limb on the truck door.

Staley said CS and Z firefighter Nathan Duncan was the first person to the scene. CS and Z crews arrived with their trucks and were able use ladder and winch to rescue the woman.

State Rep. Tim Lemons (R-Cabot) presented a Senate citation on behalf of state Sen. Williams to former Lonoke County Coroner Sherry Stracener. She was a coroner for more than 20 years.

“She is the person none of us wanted to see in a professional manner, but we loved to see when she wasn’t doing her job,” Lemons said.

Lemons read, “In her job duties, her compassion far surpassed the responsibilities of her office.

“She once held a baby in her arms because she could not bear for the family to see it put into a body bag.

“She would let the family spend as much time as they needed after a family member had passed away. When a family did not attend a church where they could hold funeral services, she would find a church for them. She would also sing at funerals when the family wanted to hear ‘Amazing Grace’ one more time for Grandma.

“She would send a family card letting them know she was thinking of them.”