Quorum committee approves money for road department equipment

A lack of equipment for the Jefferson County Road Department could soon be corrected if a resolution approved by committees of the Jefferson County Quorum Court is approved by the full court next Monday.

The resolution authorizes the road department to negotiate with equipment dealers and find the equipment the department needs.

“To do the job we need to do, we need equipment,” Road Department Director Jimmy O’Fallon said during committee meetings Tuesday night. “We can’t operate without equipment.”

As an example, O’Fallon said the road department currently has one ditching machine while the city of Pine Bluff, where he was street superintendent for a number of years, has four.

“We have no paving machines,” O’Fallon said. “Pine Bluff has two.”

The proposed resolution provides that the county is expecting to receive revenue from the new highway tax, and $102,000 in payments on equipment will be paid off by January.

“I’m willing to get a used paying machine and it will get used,” O’Fallon said. “Buying used will allow us to save money.”

The original resolution called for approving an agreement between the Road Department and Riggs Catepillar for the equipment but a revised resolution provides that the department will find a dealer that “best meets the county’s needs.”

“We’re going to work with all the equipment dealers and if we can’t buy it (the equipment) there’s not a whole lot we can do,” O’Fallon said.

County Judge Dutch King said the equipment purchases will be made strictly from road tax revenue, and no additional revenue will be needed from the county.

Justice of the Peace Conley Byrd asked if the $102,000 that was mentioned in the resolution was the maximum that could be spent, and King said yes.

“We’re going to buy the best equipment we can,” O’Fallon said. “We can’t afford to go and spend $300,000 for new equipment.”

On another subject, King asked members of the Quorum Court to “walk across the street and look at the coroner’s office.

“There are buckets in the floor (when it rains) and the roof is caving in,” King said. “That office represents Jefferson County and is the office of an elected official.”

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department Patrol Division and Criminal Investigation are also located in the same block on Main Street as the Coroner’s Office and Byrd said he thought the new sheriff’s department building, which is under construction adjacent to the adult jail, would also contain space for the coroner.

“That will not be part of the new sheriff’s office,” King said, adding that he has asked the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District to “try and find some grants for another building.”

“The present location can’t be fixed up,“ King said.