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JP COGER’S WEEKLY WASHINGTON COUNTY WINDOW 5/5/24


So much is happening here and this newsletter covers a lot.  I know it's long, but there's just a lot that needs to be brought forward. Democracy works best when “We the People” participate…and are informed.



 



IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO SAVE OUR NWA CRISIS STABILIZATION UNIT!  State funding is available for FY2025 in the same amount as this year.  However, without leaders who want our CSU to not only exist, but thrive, and who will support it and work to go out and find another vendor, it won’t be here and we will lose that very valuable asset.  Our most vulnerable community members will lose the life saving services provided by the CSU.


WHAT CAN YOU DO?  I’ll tell you.  You can lobby for the CSU by contacting the County Judge (ask to meet with him), all Justices of the Peace (meet with your JP), Sheriff Cantrell, the prosecuting attorney, medical professionals and other mental health practictioners, and any community leaders you may know.  You can ask them to step up and find another vendor.  Tell them you want them to do that.  Tell them what it means to you and our community.  Tell them it takes a village.





If you are in a position to know a vendor that might be interested in operating the CSU, let me know.


Attend county meetings.

Speak during public comment time. 

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





COUNTY MEETINGS THIS WEEK 5/5/24



🌟 WASHINGTON COUNTY QUORUM COURT FINANCE & BUDGET COMMITTEE meets Tuesday, 5/7/24, 6:00 PM, Washington County Courthouse.  In person meeting only. The meeting will be livestreamed on the county’s YouTube channel:   https://www.youtube.com/user/washcoar

Here’s the agenda for F&B.  Here’s a detailed summary of the meeting per the public posted agenda.   “There shall be a twelve-minute public comment period at the end of each committee meeting.  No individual may speak longer than three (3) minutes.” WC Code Sec. 2-32(h)


🌟 WASHINGTON COUNTY LIBRARY BOARD SPECIAL MEETING, Thursday 5/9/24, 3:30 PMZoom webinar onlyYou must pre-register here to attend:  https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_O85UB24QQSC1HhLztQ1CMQ

There’s no posted agenda on the county website at this time.  At last month’s regular meeting, there was a brief discussion of a letter the Library Board received from former senator Jason Rapert asking about certain book titles and whether they are in our libraries… Stay tuned into this meeting.


COUNTY ZONING PROPOSAL (ORDINANCE, RULES & REGULATIONS)




ZONING MAP FOR WASHINGTON COUNTY:  We got our first look at the proposed zoning map for Washington County.  With credit and thanks to JP Evelyn Rios Stafford for this explanation:  “In the attached maps, the white parcels would be zoned commercial - these mainly follow along state highways and the interstate.  The blue parcens would be zoned industrial - these include existing dirt mines and quarries…To see the proposed zoning on the interactive map, select “Layer List” from the top menu and click the box for “County Zoning Map 2024.”


To get a copy of the proposed planning ordinances, please check the Planning Department Ordinances and Regulations page, as shown in the image below.

 

Here are the links to the zoning districts webmap draft and the planning ordinances draft (PDF also attached).


PLEASE REACH OUT TO ME WITH QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, INFORMATION, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO SHARE OR LEARN CONCERNING THE PROPOSED ZONING MAP AND ORDINANCE.  My email is:  ejcoger@gmail.com (it’s best to not use my county email because it’s hard for me to access and respond there).  My number is 479-306-9994.  Please call and/or text.



The county judge refuses to arrange for town hall meetings throughout the county where community members can come, ask questions, get answers, and meet with the people who actually wrote the proposed new laws and regulations.  He told me when I pushed for the county to host these meetings, “I need you to do your job…it’s up to you and the rest of the quorum court to learn this and go take it out to your constituents.”  Surely the judge knows that the only way to get public buy-in is to be open and transparent and educate and inform.  When I pushed back and asked for direction, the judge said he, “...wasn’t listening…@1:16:55 in the video   


Today's NWA Democrat Gazette has a great editorial on this whole mess. Read it here


SO WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK?



WASHINGTON COUNTY QUORUM COURT COUNTY SERVICES COMMITTEE MET MONDAY, 4/29/24. Everyone following Washington County, Arkansas and how your tax dollars are spent should watch this entire video:  https://www.youtube.com/live/2SgcQRTMlOU?si=Py5TUzYRsLPxhCaF

At the beginning of the meeting I tried to add an item to the agenda (just before public comments) to have the judge bring us up to date on the Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) and why it closed on 4/12/24 instead of 6/30/24 as we had previously been informed.  My motion did not receive enough votes to pass. The following JPs voted against adding the item to the agenda: David Wilson; Lisa Ecke; Charles Dean; Willie Leming; Gary RickerJPs Robert Dennis and Butch Bond abstained. JPs Coleman Taylor, Shawndra Washington, Beth Coger, Suki Highers and Evelyn Rios Stafford voted for adding the CSU update.  JP Kyle Lyons was absent. Here’s a summary of that meeting.   


WASHINGTON COUNTY PLANNING BOARD met Thursday, 5/2/24.  Here are the links to watch that meeting:

Four members were present.



  COUNTY JOB OPENINGS THIS WEEK (5/5/24)


 🌟 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

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

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THINGS TO KNOW AND THINGS TO DO:


 IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SIGNED THE PETITIONS TO SAVE TRANSPARENCY IN GOVERNMENT, PLEASE DO AND PLEASE TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS TO SIGN. 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.     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.

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  Today, 5/5/24, there are at least 752 people incarcerated in the WC Detention Center.  There are 92 of these are unsheltered individuals 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


As of Monday 4/29/24, we had one person in our detention center diagnosed with Covid. I forgot to ask about how many people were sleeping on the floor, but it's usually around 130 or so.


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COUNTY BIDS/REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS 


  Bid for “Building Envelope Weatherization.”  This is for the County Annex Building at 123 N. College Avenue which houses the Public Defenders’ Office and Judge Diane Warren’s Juvenile Court  Here’s a link to the bid package.  This bid was posted on the county website 4/29/24.  Request for clarifications are due by 2:00 PM, 5/6/24.  The proposals are due by 4:00 pm 5/13/24 and bids will be opened at 9:00 am 5/14/24.  This building is a valuable county asset and has been in need of continued maintenance and upkeep for several years.  I hope we can get a good deal on this because it's needed.


  Bid for 3M Peltor ComTac V1 Headset for Emergency Management.  Bidding closed 4/29/24 at 4:00 PM. Here’s the bid packet if you know anyone interested.  No tabulation has been posted.  I’ll provide that next week.


  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.  Bidding closed 4/29/24 at 4:00 PM. No tabulation has been posted.  I’ll provide that next week.


  This RFP 2024-02 is for roofing services for the cooperative extension building located at 2536 N. McConnell Drive, Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Proposals are due by 4:00 pm 5/6/24.  Packets will be opened 5/7/24 9:00 AM, Fifth Floor Conference Room, WC Courthouse.

 



 

WANT TO BECOME INVOLVED?

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

  • CONTACT JUDGE DEAKINS AND TELL HIM YOU WANT OUR CRISIS STABILIZATION UNIT TO REMAIN OPEN AND ASK HIM TO 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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