Juvenile Court awarded Simmons Foundation grant

The Jefferson County Juvenile Court has received one of the first grants from the Simmons Foundation Tommy May Make A Difference Challenge Grant and the Jefferson County Quorum Court has agreed to match funding for a second year of the program.

During the regular meeting of the county’s legislative body Monday night, the justices of the peace voted 12-1 to find $25,000 next year to go along with the $25,000 that the Simmons Foundation will provide this year.

The grant was announced during the annual meeting of Simmons stockholders Tuesday night.

Juvenile Court Judge Earnest E. Brown Jr. said the new program will concentrate on single-parent homes that have young people who are referred to the court as Families in Need of Supervision by the Department of Human Services.

May, the retired CEO of Simmons First Corp., said during committee meetings last week that while there are no guarantees the program will work, it’s better than doing nothing.

He also said that he will “do everything in my power to help find funding for the third year, and if that third year is successful, we might look at continuing it.”

Justice of the Peace Dr. Conley Byrd was the only one to oppose the idea, saying during committee meetings that “with the current budget situation, I don’t see where we can get the funds or how we can commit for a second year.

“Baring an economic turnaround, I don’t see where the money is going to come from,” Byrd said.

However, Finance Committee Chairman Herman Ginger told May “we will find the money.”