Sebastian County JPs Talk Rural Fire System, Crisis Center for Mentally Ill

Times Record

By Thomas Saccente

The Sebastian County Quorum Court during a Tuesday meeting was presented a possible solution to housing mentally ill offenders at the county detention center.

JPs met at the Greenwood Courthouse on Tuesday. Among the items discussed were:

1. Crisis stabilization center

Sebastian County Judge David Hudson discussed the creation of a crisis stabilization center to divert nonviolent, mentally ill offenders from the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center. The issue has been discussed in Quorum Court meetings in the past, with Sebastian County officials participating in the Stepping Up Conference in Washington, D.C., in April and the Sebastian County Mental Health Summit held in May.

“To invest county funds in such a unit deserves your close consideration,” Hudson said. “The Council of State Governments recommended a facility like that be located in our county in their analysis of the state prison system and county jails. That means if they do end up funding one, we’ve got to have a place to go, so we’re going to need to be proactive.”

Hudson said having the facility will be a part of lessening the strain on the detention center, which is currently dealing with overpopulation.

2. The Sebastian County rural fire system

Hudson also briefed the JPs on drafting ordinances to implement changes to the Sebastian County rural fire system. The changes were discussed at the Quorum Court meeting in September, but Hudson said he needs more time to work on them in collaboration with the fire chiefs involved. He said there are 14 fire districts in Sebastian County, which are divided between eight rural service districts, five city rural districts and one rural city district.

“Whenever you start putting specific documents together, it forces me to push back and make sure I’m heading in the right direction,” Hudson said.

Hudson said in a memo the main goal of the initiative is to develop and maintain a firefighting system with the lowest ISO rating based on the best firefighting responsiveness.

“The water delivery system, driving mileage from each fire station, fire apparatus and equipment and number of trained personnel are all key components of the fire fighting system,” the memo states.

Hudson said the initiative may take months to put together.

3. The 2017 Budget Process

Prior to the regular meeting, the Quorum Court held a budget review meeting at 6 p.m. as part of their 2017 budget review process. District 11 JP Linda Willsey Murry was elected the Quorum Court chairwoman of the special meeting, as well as the other special meetings that will be held during the budget review process.

The Sebastian County Quorum Court will next meet Tuesday at 7 p.m.