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JP COGER'S NEWSLETTER & WASHINGTON COUNTY UPDATE 4/21/24



SAVE OUR CRISIS STABILIZATION UNIT!


Here in Washington County we are facing a critical situation that demands our immediate attention and unified action.  Our Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU), a vital lifeline for individuals in need of mental health care, is set to close on 6/30/24 unless we can find another vendor/director to take over the contract to operate the CSU.  The current director, UAMS, has notified the county that it is not renewing its contract.


Why is Washington County’s CSU closing when the other CSUs are thriving, especially Pulaski County and Sebastian County CSUs?  Read more here.


It is crucial to understand that the CSU is not and should not be considered a profit-driven entity; it is a sanctuary of care and compassion for the marginalized and underserved.  We don’t expect fire departments to make a profit and neither should we expect the CSU.  The CSU provides a service that caters to the most vulnerable among us.  It is imperative that we recognize the value of the CSU lies not in monetary gains, but in the lives it saves and the hope it instills.


Let’s come together as a community to ensure the continued operation of the CSU.  It does not have to close.  Here’s how you can help:


  1. Spread Awareness:  Share this newsletter with friends, family and colleagues.  Let everyone know about the critical situation facing the CSU and why it’s essential to preserve it.

  2. Advocate:  Reach out to local government officials, state and local policy makers, and community leaders.  Urge them to get to work and find a new vendor/director for the CSU.  (There is still the possibility of state funding for FY2025)   

  3. Mobilize:  Organize community events, rallies, or petitions to demonstrate our collective commitment to saving the CSU.

Every day it’s open, it provides a safe haven for individuals in the midst of mental health emergencies, offering them the support and resources they desperately need.  Our CSU is also a huge benefit to our law enforcement community and helps to divert people in mental health crisis from being locked in our jail.

Together, we can make a difference.  Here's link to contact your elected representatives and other county officials: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1tx_nJbsWcStPPtVIzPjzZxd5CBLC06BOUaNuG09JF0c/edit?usp=sharing




   Today, 4/20/24, there are at least 733 people incarcerated in the WC Detention Center.  There are 92 listed as “homeless.”  Here’s a link to the WCDC Jail Roster:  https://www.washingtoncountyar.gov/government/departments-f-z/sheriff/detention-information/detainee-roster-detailed

251 are listed as “hold for other departments.”  66 are listed as “courtesy/contract hold.”  

229 are listed as “failure to appear.” 


There are many reasons why someone might miss a court date, (very few actually abscond - most are right here in the community and have strong family ties here) maybe they don’t have transportation or child care, or they know they’ll be fired from their job if they miss work.  Vera Institute of Justice recently issued a report on failure to appear charges and the dire circumstances that result.  You can read that article here:  https://www.vera.org/news/millions-of-people-in-the-u-s-miss-their-court-date-with-dire-consequences

Here’s a link to my google spreadsheet where you can click on columns and play around with the data.   


🌟  MEETINGS FROM LAST WEEK

 Here’s the link to the complete video of the April meeting of the Washington County Quorum Court:  https://www.youtube.com/live/prEyg3x6T4U?si=1fZ_MiqmdUuPNmL2


  Starting at 6:41 in the video are public comments concerning the projected closing of the NWA Crisis Stabilization Unit.  Thank you Diana Scott, Annee Littell, Sherry Main and Dr. Leigh Turner for coming out and speaking up about how important the CSU is to our community.  Thank you for your time and effort.  Everyone in Washington County needs to hear about what a great asset the CSU is to our community and how it is needed here.


  Thursday’s meeting consisted mostly of some budget items and conditional use permits (CUPs).  Here’s my summary of the meeting.


COUNTY MEETINGS COMING THIS WEEK (ONLY ONE PUBLISHED AT THIS TIME)


🌟 The Jobs Evaluation Salary Administration Program (JESAP) will meet Monday, 4/22/24 at 3:30 PM, Fifth Floor Conference Room, WC Courthouse.  In person only.  The meeting will not be livestreamed on the county’s YouTube channel.   JESAP AGENDA hereThe only new business is a request from the IT department for an initial pay increase for a new Network Administrator position; no additional funding is required for this request.



🌟 Here’s the link to the current Washington County Job Openings as posted on the HR website: https://www.washingtoncountyar.gov/government/departments-f-z/human-resources/job-postings

 You can always check the county’s website under “Human Resources” 

There you’ll be able to complete an online application, see salary ranges and more.  

 _______________________________________________________________


THINGS TO KNOW AND THINGS TO DO:



  I am working with Arkansas Citizens for Transparency (ACT) to get an initiated act and a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to strengthen and protect our Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (AFOIA)?  I will be collecting signatures each Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm in the parking lot at 224 N East Avenue, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Fayetteville.  IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SIGNED, PLEASE DO AND PLEASE TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS TO SIGN.    Want to know more?  





  PLEASE go to YouTube and sign up for Washington County’s YouTube channel.  Subscribe and be informed.  You can do that here: https://www.youtube.com/@washcoar

  • Go back and watch meetings at your leisure and make notes.  If you have questions, ask me.

  • We need to grow our audience.



________________________________________________________________

COUNTY BIDS/REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS and COUNTY JOB OPENINGS

  There’s a new bid for 3M Peltor ComTac V1 Headset for Emergency Management.  Bidding closes 4/29/24 at 4:00 PM  Bids will be opened 4/30/24 9:30 AM.  Here’s the bid packet if you know anyone interested.  

  This Bid 2024-09 is for K9 Grass for our Animal Shelter.  This was approved in our 2024 budget and it’s really needed at the shelter.  If you know anyone or any business dealing with synthetic grass “Forever Lawn K9Grass Classic+”  please let them know about this bid. 

 

 

WANT TO BECOME INVOLVED?

  • ATTEND AS MANY MEETINGS OF THE QUORUM COURT AS YOU CAN.  CHECK MY WEBSITE WWW.BETHCOGER.COM FOR DATES AND TIMES.   

  • CONTACT JUDGE DEAKINS AND YOUR JP: TELL THEM YOU WANT OUR CRISIS STABILIZATION UNIT TO REMAIN OPEN AND ASK EVERYONETO GET TO WORK ON FINDING ANOTHER VENDOR BECAUSE WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.

  •  Continue to ask Judge Deakins to appoint members to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee and get that group up and running! This is too important. If you haven’t called, please do so, or send email, or go by the courthouse and speak to the judge in person.  WHAT’S NEXT?  WHY WON’T JUDGE DEAKINS APPOINT MEMBERS AND ACTIVATE THIS COMMITTEE AND LET IT GET TO WORK?  ASK HIM.

  • Contact your JP and set up a time to meet them for coffee or just to get together.  Become a regular voice in their ear and urge them to support criminal justice reform and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.  That’s how I got started advocating to the court back in 2019. CAN YOU TAKE AN HOUR OR TWO AND MEET WITH YOUR JP AND SHARE YOUR CONCERNS OR COMMENTS, OR WHATEVER YOUR THOUGHTS ARE.

  • Share this Newsletter with your friends and neighbors!

  • Write letters to the editor.  letters@nwadg.com

  • Do you have a court date in Benton or Washington County? Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition (AJRC)  has a program to train volunteers to offer practical, procedural, and emotional support during your court hearing. From a reassuring check-in before your court date, to standing by your side on the day of court. Everyone deserves to be heard, supported, and understood.

  • To request a Court Support Volunteer, please fill out the Courtside Support Request Form. Questions? Concerns? Reach out to us at arkansasjusticereform@gmail.org.

  • To become a volunteer, contact AJRC at 479-345-1150 or the above email.  They provide training that will help make you a great Court Support Volunteer.

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