Greg Ray

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray 

During the August meeting, Sevier County Judge Greg Ray made a presentation to the Horatio City Council about a sales tax that would fund a new hospital in De Queen.

On Oct. 8, the citizens of Sevier County will vote in a special election on whether or not to pass a 1 percent increase in sales tax in order to construct the hospital four miles north of De Queen on Highway 71. If the tax passes, construction could start in spring 2020, according to Ray.

The hospital would be a 12-bed facility, and Nabholz Construction Corporation would be the company hired to build the facility. The maximum amount for the bonds to pay for the hospital is set for $24,250,000, which would cover the costs of land, construction, improvements, parking, utilities, equipment and interest on the bonds, according to Sandra Dunn, administrative assistant to the judge.

“There [are] 17,058 people [who] don’t have healthcare emergency services right now,” Ray said.

The De Queen Medical Center stopped taking patients in February 2019 and officially closed in May. Ray and Steve Cole, the county Rural Development Agency chair, have worked since then to open a new hospital in the county.

“It’s an economic engine,” Ray said. “It’ll create jobs.”

The feasibility report for the hospital projected that the new facility will add an estimated 100 jobs to the community.

For the first year, the De Queen hospital would partner with the Mena Regional Health System, particularly to help with the emergency room. The De Queen facility would be operated by a county board.

The Horatio City Council also passed two ordinances during the meeting. Ordinance 413 requires all domesticated animals within city limits to either be on a leash or inside a secure fence, and an animal that allegedly attacked a human is subject to impoundment. The ordinance is effective immediately.

Ordinance 414 acknowledges that Mayor Rich Dorsey owns Dorsey Heating and A/C and allows the city to hire the company. An AC unit in the Edmonsen Center broke and needed to be replaced, which called for the ordinance to be passed.

The September city council meeting will be the second Monday of the month instead of the first since Sept. 2 is a holiday.

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