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JP Coger's Washington County Update 3/3/24




THINGS TO KNOW AND THINGS TO DO:


  I’m 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 manning a table each Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and each Thursday, 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, 224 N East Avenue, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Fayetteville  Want to know more?


  Last week I met with the Marshallese Educational Initiative, the Marshallese Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the Marshall Islands, Honorable H. E. Charles Rudolph Paul and RMI Senator David Anitok and other community members.  We strategized on what to do about the alarming rate of deportations of Marshallese men, how to get them assistance, how to end the county’s participation in the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program and efforts to education the community on the history of the Marshall Islands and how Marshallese enter the country legally and have a path to citizenship.


  Saturday I met at UA with journalism students from high schools around the community.  We did one podcast and two television interviews to discuss SCAAP and the importance of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.  This was so much fun and I appreciate the invite.  These young people are so inspiring.  


   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.



 




   As of 3/2//24, there are 710 people incarcerated in the WC Detention Center.   

  • There are 240 people in our jail with FTAs.  These people all have other underlying charges.  

  • There are 234 people listed as “Hold for Other Department.”  That’s a huge reason our jail is so full - that and we voluntarily house federal inmates.  Just click on each charge to see detailed information about charges, length of stay, for which department they’re being held, and more on each of those 234 people:  https://www.washingtoncountyar.gov/government/departments-f-z/sheriff/detention-information/detainee-charge-report

  • We have 75 individuals in our jail whose address is either “homeless” or 1832 School - the address of Seven Hills Homeless Shelter.

  • Want to learn more and see what opportunites there are for you to make a difference? Join an organization that I co-founded, Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition (AJRC), https://www.arjusticereform.org You'll find lots of opportunities to learn and to volunteer.



 

NO COUNTY MEETINGS ARE POSTED ON THE WASHINGTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS CALENDAR FOR THIS WEEK AS OF 3/3/24.  


 


MEETINGS LAST WEEK IN WASHINGTON COUNTY GOVERNMENT:


Washington County Jobs Evaluation Salary Administration Program (JESAP) met 2/26/24 at 3:30 pm. I missed the start of the meeting, including public comment, but here’s a short synopsis of things that were approved and will move on to committee, or were tabled:

  • ✅Creation of new Financial Technician I (approved by QC in 2024 budget)

  • ✅New Assistant Comptroller position.

  • ✅Regrade of Youth Development Supervisor to Grade 12.  It was noted they make less than some JDC staff even though they have more responsibilities.  Asking for a slight increase in pay grade.  Not asking for any new money.

  • Merit pay increase for the Juvenile Detention Director.  This solicited several questions about merit increase as allowed in the Employee Hand Book; that the word “merit” needs to be changed to something else; worried about setting precedent; mention by HR Director of possibly having Performance Program Policy in place before the May JESAP meeting.  This was tabled to the May meeting.

  • Merit pay increase for Planning Director.  This was also moved to May

  • ✅Creation of new position in Information Technology at $90,332.87.  Comptroller stated this position was needed to help deter cyber attacks. Can’t be filled by current staff.  When County Circuit Clerk Kyle Sylvester asked the Comptroller if creating this position would mean we (county elected officials) would be able to access our county email account from our laptop, iPad or desktop (we can now only access by phone which is cumbersome) the Comptroller replied, “No.”  I haven’t been able to access my county email account for almost three months, EXCEPT via my phone.  

  • ✅Regrade and title change for Purchasing Manager.  This position did not get included in the system and the Purchasing Director/Manager is doing a “two person job.”

  • ✅Request from Sheriff to create a Help Desk Manager position.  This is an empty position.  Will help Jak Kimball.  The person currently helping Jack is a 29 year employee and “we need someone in the pipeline” if that person should retire.  Probably won’t hire first percentile.  


 




COUNTY BIDS/REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS:


  Building (& Grounds has a bid for window shades.  Here’s that bid packetIt’s for 92 solar screen shades with contour fabric valances; 3 motorized solar screen shades; 1 pair of draperies, Liz Linen color 1908 beige white, with privacy liner in white, installation and a limited lifetime warranty.  If you’re interested in bidding, here’s the time schedule:

  • Bid requests for interpretations due by 2:00 pm 2/27/24

  • Bid due by 4:00 pm, 3/5/24

  • Bid opened 9:00 1m, 3/6/24


TABULATIONS FOR RECENT BIDS ALREADY AWARDED:


  • Bid 2024-04 for Temporary Agency Services was awarded to Snelling.  Here’s the tabulation sheet.  

  • RFP 2024-02 for fifteen new Chevrolet Tahoes went to Superior Automotive Group.  $55,142 per unit.  Total cost $827,130.  See the tabulation here.

  • Bid 2024-03 for the 2024 Silverado Work Truck for the Sheriff’s Office was awarded to Superior Automotive Group for $54,315.  Here’s the tabulation.


 



 

WANT TO BECOME EVEN MORE INVOLVED?

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

  • Read the 2020 Criminal Justice Assessment Study here and learn more.  This tells us what we must do if we do not want to build a larger jail.  

  • 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

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

  • QUESTIONS? Ask me. If I don't know, I will find out.

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