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JP COGER'S WEEKLY WASHINGTON COUNTY UPDATE - WHAT'S HAPPENING IN WASHINGTON COUNTY?

Updated: Mar 11



NOTICE - NO AGENDA POSTED FOR COUNTY

SERVICES/FINANCE & BUDGET MEETING SCHEDULED FOR 3/12/24 

🔺Per Washington County Code § 200.06 3)  “The Court Secretary shall cause to be sent to each member of the Quorum Court a copy of the meeting agenda and ordinances the Friday preceding the date of the meeting.”🔺

Instead of an agenda and ordinances, we received this email from our Court Coordinator at 3:42 PM 3/8/24:  “Circumstances were such that the agenda…will not be finalized until Monday 3/11/24…”

Circumstances are such that I will do another newsletter/update Monday after I receive the agenda, so please be watching for that.

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THINGS TO KNOW AND THINGS TO DO:

  Have you signed the two petitions from 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 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  Want to know more?  


You don’t think access to public records and public meetings is a problem in Washington County?  Here’s some information about that.  (a)  trial transcript Coger v. Deakins.  (b) Judgment Coger v. Wood Etal.  ( c)  2nd Judgment Coger v. Wood Etal.  (d) Judgment Coger v. Deakins.  


  Last week I attended District Court in Springdale as a “Court Support Volunteer” for two young women refugees.  Navigating the court system can be difficult and confusing. No one should have to face that alone. 

  • 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.

  Also last week I attended a meeting arranged by The Honorable Stacey Zimmerman, Circuit Judge, Washington County Juvenile Court Judge, to learn about the “100 Families Initiative.”  Learn more hereSince starting this program Sebastian County has seen a 50% decrease in the need for foster care and the City of Fort Smith has seen a 20% reduction in crimeWe can do that and more here in Washington County, but we must make it a priority.



   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 3/9//24, there are 706 people incarcerated in the WC Detention Center.   

  • There are 232 people in our jail with Failure to Appear (FTAs).   

  • There are 236 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 71 individuals in our jail whose address is either “homeless” or 1832 School - the address of Seven Hills Homeless Shelter.

  • The sheriff/detention/jail operations & maintenance budgets for Washington County 2024 total over $40.7 Million Dollars.

  • 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. 

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UPCOMING PUBLIC MEETINGS THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON COUNTY GOVERNMENT:


🌟Washington County Quorum Court combined County Services and Finance & Budget Meeting Tuesday evening, 3/12/24 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 

There’s no agenda posted as of 3/9/24 (see above for more information).  I will update with a new post and information when the agenda is posted.


🌟Washington County Library Board meets 3/14/24 at 3:30 PM.  Looks like this is a Zoom only meeting.  To attend, you must register in advance at:

Again, there’s no posted agenda

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COUNTY BIDS/REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS:

  Building & Grounds had a bid for window shades.  Here’s that bid packetBids were scheduled to be opened 3/6/24.  No tabulation sheet is posted online at this time.  I’ll update when it is.    

  Bid No. 2024-05 for 350 drug tests each week was awarded to Courthouse Concepts, Inc.  Here’s the tabulation for that.  The award is for $1,872.50 to conduct said weekly tests.



 

 

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

  • 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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