Quorum Court to consider funding for recycling operations

A proposed ordinance that will set up a fund to pay Jefferson County employees to work off-duty at the new county recycling center and restructure some existing staff is expected to be approved by the Quorum Court on Monday, despite the objections of one of at least one member of the county’s legislative body.

Justice of the Peace Lloyd Franklin II objected to the setup, which would pay employees in their regular salary slot instead of paying them on an hourly basis separately.

During committee meetings Tuesday, Franklin also expressed displeasure about restructuring that has already been done, adding duties to the recycling director Matt Earnest and the legislative assistant to County Judge Dutch King and grants coordinator Daniel Marks and paying them additional money.

“Couldn’t we find anybody qualified to hire?” Franklin asked, noting that in January, the Quorum Court approved funds for a person to run the new center.

King said the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District liked the county’s track record and said the county had the ability to get the job done.

“Why go out and hire someone when we’ve got people qualified?” King said.

The Economic Development District selected Jefferson County as the site for an e-waste recycling center that will accept material from five counties in the northern part of the district.

It will be operated in conjunction with Jefferson County’s recycling programs at a county-owned building behind Pope Furniture off East Harding Avenue. Work on that building to handle the recycling programs is almost complete, and the economic district will cover all the costs from e-waste and recycling grants.

In a memorandum to members of the Quorum Court in late February, King asked for $60,000 to be set aside to pay employees to work part-time and to supplement the salary of Alamae Harris, who works in King’s office and has accepted the job of recycling public outreach director, as well as the salaries of two assistants that Harris will designate.

“This is a pure gold mine,” King said during committee meetings last week. “We’re bringing resources into this county and no one else has come up with any plans to help so many people.”

Last week, Harris said 50 county employees had signed up to work at the recycling center when it is opened.

As to the adding the additional money to the employees paychecks, Marks said, “The Arkansas Association of Counties recommended we do it this way.”

“I have a tendency to trust the Arkansas Association of Counties,” Finance Committee Chairman Herman Ginger said. “They’ve never told me wrong, and if we open up a wage and hour problem, we have got a major problem.”

Also on Monday, the county’s legislative body will consider a resolution that was added Friday to name three new members to the Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Historical Museum Commission to fill three existing vacancies.

The proposed resolution would appoint Bob Purvis, executive director of the Pine Bluff Convention Center, to a term that would expire Dec. 31, 2014; Joe Dempsey, owner-operator of Joe Dempsey Communications and Joe Dempsey Photo Dot-Com and the director of marketing for Davis Life Care Center, to a term that would expire Dec. 31, 2015; and Dr. Clifton Roaf, a dentist, to a term that would expire Dec. 31, 2016.