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News
County adopts emergency road ordinance

Greene County now has an updated ordinance detailing requirements to be met in any new construction of roads and bridges in the county.

The Quorum Court voted 9-0 to adopt County Ordinance 2020-09, which lays out specifications for road composition and dimensions by road designation (arterial, collector or local, depending on the average daily traffic count). Included was an emergency clause which made the ordinance effective immediately.

The ordinance, passed at the regularly scheduled July meeting last week, also establishes a six-step process for interested landowners to get a road built and dedicated to county maintenance.

The 15-page ordinance also lays responsibility of obtaining its requirements on those planning to build roads or subdivisions before they begin construction.

As previously reported, Greene County Judge Rusty McMillon had presented the draft of the ordinance to the June 15 meeting of the quorum court, saying at the time it could be subject to changes. But in presenting it for adoption, he acknowledged none had been made.

Before the vote to adopt it, McMillon entertained questions regarding various portions of the ordinance.

“What constitutes a violation?” asked District 2 Justice of the Peace Robby Glasgow.

“Not meeting the specifications,” McMillon answered. “We won’t accept a road that’s not in compliance.”

In response to a question from District 10 Justice of the Peace Jeremy Wooldridge, McMillon noted that current roads would not be found to be out of compliance. “This is to protect the future,” the judge said.

Penalty for noncompliance with the ordinance – or any other county ordinance – is specified in the Greene County Code of Ordinances to be a maximum of $500 for an individual occurrence. However, for a continuous violation (e.g. for a road being out of compliance with the ordinance), it is a maximum of $250 per day.

The Quorum Court may approve requests for variances from the specifications where adherence to them could create a hardship, “and where the County Judge feels that a departure may be made without destroying the intent of these regulations.”

As previously reported, many of the changes were to replace outdated terminology. One other change includes the use of average daily traffic count (ADT) to quantify road classification. Roads with ADT exceeding 1,000 in rural areas, and 4,000 in urbanizing areas, are arterial roads. Local roads, which McMillon said made up about 95 percent of the roads in the county, are those with ADT less than 200 vehicles.

Those in between (200-1,000 in rural and 1,000-4,000 in urbanizing) are collector roads, as are those directly connecting two arterial roads or two population clusters of at least 200 people, or which provide direct access to more than 110 residential dwelling units (or indirect access to more than 200 such units).

The difference among the three lies in the requirements for rights-of-way; widths of the crown, surface and shoulder; base thickness; maximum percent grade; minimum sighting distance and maximum permitted speed.

In other business, the Court voted 9-0 to adopt a resolution declaring its District 7 seat vacant. The resolution clears the way for Gov. Asa Hutchinson to appoint a justice to serve out the unexpired term of Barry Bateman, who has moved out of the district. Whoever is appointed is prohibited from running for election to the seat in the next general election.


Workmen from Tate Construction smooth out gravel in what is to be the parking lot for the new number 1 fire station at 700 Highway 49 North, preparatory to being wet down with water (from the truck at right) to enable tighter compaction. Once the gravel is prepared, Tate is to begin pouring the concrete for the parking lot. Paragould Fire Chief Kevin Lang said that the station is on track for completion by the end of September.

On track for September


News
NEARSWMD replaces stolen equipment, moves to enhance security

Employing tele-meeting technology, the Northeast Arkansas Solid Waste Management District board of directors voted to spend the money to replace one of its pieces of equipment recently stolen.

At its meeting last week conducted through the ZOOM application, the board voted to lease a Caterpillar skid steer from Riggs Caterpillar of Jonesboro to replace one stolen recently from the district.

According to saloodo.com, a skid steer, or skid steer loader, is a small construction equipment vehicle used for digging, lifting, moving material, removing dirt, spreading material, and so on. A typical skid steer has no steering mechanism, but maneuvers by skidding (dragging) across the ground where it is placed.

“We got the insurance money, so it’s paid off,” said Executive Director Jason Wolfenbarger to open discussion of how to replace the machine. Although interest rates are currently extremely low, the board decided to lease the skid steer rather than buy it, owing to the availability of service of the device throughout the lease period.

“Every two years we can get a new piece of equipment,” Wolfenbarger said, “and when the warranty runs out [on purchased equipment], that’s when you start having problems.”

Paragould Mayor and board chair Mike Gaskill agreed. “We lease our trash trucks,” added Gaskill, “and every two years we get a new truck.”

Total cost of the machine is $54,263 from Riggs. The district had also received a quote of $62,006 from Little Rock-based JCB. Wolfenbarger told the board the two machines had the same specifications and capability. He said Monday that the lease payments would be about $948 a month.

In response to the theft, the board approved added security measures including a proposal to install a new fence around the landfill on Greene 890 Road.

“It will cost $70,000, with us taking down the old fencing,” Wolfenbarger told the board. “So I’m asking for $80,000 because we won’t always have the people available to take it down.”

The total cost for the fence, including $3,600 for a keypad to unlock the gate, comes to $69,988, as quoted by Dacus Fence Co. of Jonesboro. Wolfenbarger had recommended the keypad because the landfill also houses the sheriff’s department’s firing range, and a simple padlock would require abut 40 keys.

“This [skid steer] is the first piece of equipment we’ve had stolen since I’ve been here,” Wolfenbarger said Monday, “and it’s the first one that we haven’t been able to recover.”

He added the theft had occurred May 7, and had been discovered May 8.


AP
Arkansas music festival cited for virus safety violations

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas music festival that attracted thousands of people over the weekend was cited by the state for violating coronavirus safety rules after attendees were seen not wearing masks or following social distancing requirements.

Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control cited organizers of the Peacemaker Music Festival, which was held Friday and Saturday night at an outdoor amphitheater in Fort Smith.

More than 2,500 people attended the festival, the Times Record newspaper in Fort Smith reported. State Health officials in June approved organizers’ plan for the event, which included checking temperature of patrons at the gate and requiring masks to be worn. A statewide order requiring masks in most public settings took effect last week.

“The festival staff did work closely with ABC to address concerns as they were raised,” Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the agency, said in an email. “However, there were ultimately not enough staffers or volunteers to address each individual concern.”

Hardin said the penalty against the festival will be determined by ABC’s director and will likely be a fine since it was a one-time event. He said the violation could be considered if organizers apply for another alcohol permit next year.

The festival’s organizers said they were thankful most patrons of the event adhered to the safety guidelines approved by the state.

“Our volunteer staff worked tirelessly to enforce the rules,” a statement released by the festival said. “Despite that, there were some patrons who violated the directive.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he thought the event had a good plan in place but said “the ball was dropped” in its execution. He said the state needs to ensure large events can comply with safety rules before approving them.

“As you look at additional events that will come up in the future, we’ve got to make sure there’s adequate staff and volunteers to ensure social distancing, give us the best chance at that and educating the public as they try to enjoy an event,” Hutchinson said.

Arkansas in May began allowing large entertainment venues to reopen, but has set limits on their capacity. Under current rules, the venues are limited to 100 people but can accommodate up to two-thirds of their capacity if their plan is approved beforehand by the Health Department.

Arkansas on Monday reported 824 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total since the pandemic began to 39,447. The state said at least 6,674 of those cases are active, meaning they don’t include people who have died or recovered.

The true number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

The number of people in the state who have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, has risen to 408. The number of people hospitalized increased by nine to 489.

Hutchinson also announced that he was setting aside $10 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to purchase 20,000 WiFi access point devices for K-12 students who need internet access for remote instruction when classes resume next month. The funding will also pay for two years of unlimited data for the devices.

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Check out more of the AP’s coronavirus coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ademillo


News
Man faces 5 counts of rape

A Paragould man in the Greene County Detention Center is facing five counts of rape, a Class Y felony.

According to a probable cause affidavit sworn by Detective Lt. Rhonda Thomas, police have arrested Shanny Lee Grady, 44, on five counts of the indicated charge.

The arrest came as the result of an investigation into information the department received regarding inappropriate sexual activity involving a minor that allegedly occurred between March and June of this year. The most recent occurrence was reportedly June 8.

On June 10, according to Thomas’s affidavit, investigators from the State Police Crimes Against Children Division interviewed the minor victim. At that time, the victim reportedly gave graphic details of alleged ongoing sexual abuse, identifying Grady as the perpetrator of numerous sex acts between March and June 8.

The acts constitute rape according to section 5-14-103 of the Arkansas Code, Annotated.

Police took Grady into custody on July 23, according to booking rosters from the Greene County Detention Center. Bond had not yet been set for Grady as of press time. He was scheduled to appear in Greene County District Court on Monday.


News
Sunday crash kills Paragould man, injures others

A one-vehicle crash has claimed the life of a Paragould man.

According to a fatal crash summary from the Arkansas State Police, Cecil Nelson, 58, died early Sunday morning when a 2019 Can Am off-road vehicle in which he was a passenger, left the roadway to the left, struck a tree and overturned.

According to the preliminary report, filed by Arkansas State Trooper Jarrod Lyerly, the wreck occurred at 12:35 a.m. on July 26 in the vicinity of 1006 Greene 733 Road, between the Bethel and Finch communities. The Can Am was northbound when it departed the roadway. Three occupants of the vehicle were ejected from the vehicle.

Greene County Coroner Dick Pace pronounced Nelson dead at the accident scene.

Two other occupants of the Can Am sustained injuries, Rex Nelson, 50, was listed as the driver of the vehicle in the report, and Cindy Carter, 42, was also listed as a passenger.

According to Lyerly’s report, they were transported to Arkansas Methodist Medical Center with undisclosed injuries.