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JP COGER’S WASHINGTON COUNTY NEWS & UPDATE 3/17/24 - WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS WEEK? WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK AND MORE

REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING OF WASHINGTON COUNTY QUORUM COURT THURSDAY, 3/21/24, 6:00 PM, WC COUNTY COURTHOUSE.   

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THINGS TO KNOW AND THINGS TO DO:


  The combined Washington County Services & Finance & Budget Committees met (committees of the whole) last Tuesday 3/12/24.  You can watch the entire meeting here:  https://www.youtube.com/live/iWQa11EtAIo?si=MPRurAP2nl_-1vfR  It was an interesting meeting.  



  • We learned that Washington County has $490,705.02 in unused Emergency Rental Assistance 1 that is being given back to the federal government because it wasn’t used by the county.  That money could have helped a lot of people keep a roof over their head, kept them sheltered, but it went unused.  The deadline to use the funds has passed.  The final report was due 1/30/23.  It's sad this money wasn't used to help Washington County residents when it could have been and it was provided to do just that. Now it will be returned to the federal government and can possibly be reallocated to other jurisdictions, but not us.



  We had a great day yesterday gathering signatures for the two petitions by 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)?  Several times we were so busy that I ran out of the prepared petitions and had to pull more from storage.  We had people lined up to sign!

    We still have a long way to go.  I will be collecting signatures each Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and each Thursday, 3:00 pm to 6:00 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?  



  Monday I attended the Arkansas State Advisory Committee on Civil Rights meeting which included panelists Jacob Worlow (UA Law School), Honorable Tjuana Byrd Manning, Juvenile Judge, and Matt Durrett, Fourth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney, and others.  This meeting focused on the need for more public defenders, better pay and better resources for public defenders.  Here’s more on that.




  

  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.










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   As of 3/15//24, there are 708 people incarcerated in the WC Detention Center.   74 of those are listed as unsheltered individuals.  As of Tuesday, 3/12/24, 101 people were sleeping on the jail floor (they have very thin “mattresses”); three people had been diagnosed with Covid.  There were 5 or 6 vacant positions in enforcement and 35 or 36 vacant positions in the detention center.  Wanna know more?








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UPCOMING PUBLIC MEETINGS THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON COUNTY GOVERNMENT:

🌟Washington County Quorum Court regular monthly meeting Thursday evening, 3/21/24 6:00 PM, Washington County Courthouse, Quorum Courtroom.  In person meeting only.  The meeting will be live-streamed on the county’s YouTube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/washcoar 

Here’s the agenda:  1 3212024 Agenda Packet.pdf

Here’s my summary of agenda items for this week’s meeting:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1M4eT23PUURGxy1p9WpP0HuR3bHZNe-Y5P4EGHKba9RA/edit?usp=sharing


🌟 There’s a fifteen minute (15) public comment period at the beginning of the meeting, Agenda Item 5.  Any person can speak to the court for up to three (3) minutes and if there are people still waiting to speak at the end of the 15 minutes, any JP may make a motion to extend the comment time.  Please take advantage of this time to let the court know of your concerns or to give us information. 

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COUNTY BIDS/REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS:

  Building & Grounds had a bid for window shades.  Here’s that bid packet ***No bids were received*** 



 



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.   

  •  Continue to ask Judge Deakins to appoint members to the CJCC 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.  THE MAJORITY ON THE COURT VOTED AGAINST MY ORDINANCE TO EXPAND THE BASE FOR CJCC MEMBERSHIP.  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.

  • Here's link to contact your elected representatives and other county officials: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1tx_nJbsWcStPPtVIzPjzZxd5CBLC06BOUaNuG09JF0c/edit?usp=sharing

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