Gould mayor released from jail; recorder-treasurer can’t access documents, she says


Gould Mayor Earnest Nash Jr. may have been released from the Lincoln County Jail at Star City, but the legal dispute over access to records and files in the city recorder-treasurer’s city hall office continued Friday.

Nash was released from the jail late Thursday on a verbal order issued by Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt Jr. of White Hall after Nash’s attorneys contended he had complied with Wyatt’s order to provide the keys for access to the office to Recorder-treasurer Pamela Barley-Gibson.

Wyatt ordered Nash jailed Wednesday for contempt of court for not providing the keys to Barley-Gibson.

Both Barley-Gibson and her attorney, Howard M. “Corky” Holthoff of Dumas, told The Commercial Friday that Nash’s attorneys, Hank Bates of Little Rock and Gene McKissic of Pine Bluff, had been less than truthful with Wyatt.

Holthoff said Bates was aware the Dumas attorney was going to be in Northwest Arkansas for minor surgery Thursday and for a Friday court case, adding Bates notified him Thursday that he had faxed a copy of a motion filed in the Star City court to Holthoff’s law office.

Holthoff said he did not have an opportunity to object to Bates’ motion before Wyatt released Nash.

Nash declined comment Friday, referring questions to Bates. A Friday afternoon call to Bates’ office was not returned.

Barley-Gibson said the key given to her Wednesday only fit the office’s main door and not a storage area where some documents are kept. She said she was given two additional keys Thursday by an employee of the municipal water department, but has yet to receive a key to a file room that has housed records in the past.

Former recorder-treasurer Mary Prewett said she accompanied Barley-Gibson to the recorder-treasurer’s office and found “lots of bags of trash where papers had been shredded.”

Barley-Gibson said she was unable to find accounts payable, bank deposit records, federal tax records, city council minutes and bank statements in the areas where she has access.

While she has access to some of the office facilities designated for the recorder-treasurer, she has not receive a security code to enter the building and passwords for the office computer, Barley-Gibson said.

“There is not much I can do,” she told The Commercial Friday.

Barley-Gibson earlier asked Wyatt to find Nash in contempt and remove him from office immediately over the key issue.

Barley-Gibson was appointed by the Gould City Council in January to succeed Prewett, but had been locked out of the office since her appointment. Nash has challenged the legality of the appointment, vetoing the council action repeatedly. Aldermen overrode each veto.

After Wyatt declared her the legal recorder-treasurer in a September ruling, Nash sent a letter to Barley-Gibson acknowledging her as recorder-treasurer.

When she did not receive access to the office, she filed the suit seeking the keys and asked Wyatt to hold Nash in contempt.

Bills against the city have continued to accumulate over the months since Prewett resigned.

Barley-Gibson is the only official currently authorized to sign checks for the city, but by state law, there must be two signers. The other check signer first resigned, then was removed from office and the council has yet to meet with a quorum and appoint someone to co-sign checks.