The Sevier County Quorum Court voted to approve an ordinance that establishes a fund number and fund name so that donations made to the department’s jail rehabilitation programs will have their own accounting.
According to the ordinance, The Jail Rehabilitation Education Fund – 3406, is established to properly account for the funds received and or designated to fund rehabilitative education for participants of Arkansas residential substance abuse treatment programs. The ordinance restricts expenditures to the specified funds and repeals past ordinances that may conflict. The ordinance took effect upon approval.
Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry said that a local man had offered to volunteer his time to give a certified welding class to jailed participants that want to apply for it.
“He’s been around talking to people in the community who are willing to make donations,” Gentry said about Glen White, who can certify those that qualify.
Gentry said that he needed the fund set up so that the department can make welding-related purchases, but that the language of the ordinance would allow the department to make other purchases should other volunteers arrive that may want to teach landscaping or electrical, etc.
Only inmates in the jail’s substance abuse programs qualify for the program and Gentry said that should an inmate in the program be released before receiving his certification, White will continue the program at his shop.
“When they get out of jail, this will help them get a job,” Gentry said. “We have to have supplies to teach them.”
Extension of jail tax
In other department related news, Sheriff Robert Gentry talked about the proposed extension of a asales tax that faces a public vote in November. The current tax will expire this year due to the jail bonds being paid off.
Gentry said that he hadn’t heard anything negative about the tax and had, in fact, heard from someone he said had never liked him but had made social media posts encouraging voters to pass it, saying good things were happening at the jail.
Gentry spoke about the recent block party the sheriff’s department held with the De Queen Police Department on 6th and Lake streets last week. He said that they were holding another one in Horatio later this month and that he would use that forum as well as planned block parties in Lockesburg and Gillham, to promote the necessity of the tax in order to provide continued maintenance of the facility.
“We also need to hold town hall meetings,” he told the court.
He said that he would also be talking to voters at the county fair and at a “National Night Out” event that he plans to hold a month after the rest of the country holds theirs due to the fair being that day.
“Everything I have heard has been in a positive way,” Gentry said. “We need to let all the citizens know it’s not a new tax but what you’ve been paying,” noting that the department and court have been “transparent” about the issue.
“I haven’t heard anything bad and I’ve asked people,” said County Judge Greg Ray, who mentioned he had attended a recent Rotary Club meeting to gauge support.
Camera purchase for undercover operations
Another issue Gentry brought to the court was an emergency ordinance to allow the department to purchase a camera for undercover operations that the Department of Homeland Security would reimburse the county for. The camera system costs $1,195 and the sheriff said that it was needed for undercover controlled buys of drugs.
Gentry said that recent search warrants served have gathered up approximately $45,000 in cash.