Two rural volunteer fire departments brought their needs to the attention of the Newton County Quorum court when it met in regular monthly session Monday night, July 1.

Catherine Baker, community & economic development coordinator for Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District, conducted a public hearing on behalf of the Mt. Judea Volunteer Fire Department which is proposing to apply for an Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) grant of $75,000 for the purchase of a new pumper truck.

Baker explained how the application process works, noting if a grant is awarded, it would pay 90% of the cost with the fire department picking up the other 10%.

The deadline to apply for the grant is the first of August. The fire department should know if the grant was approved no later than October.

If the grant is awarded, the funds would pass through the county treasurer's office since Mt. Judea is not an incorporated municipality.

If the grant is not approved, the fire department can reapply for a grant in March, Baker said.

Also, after the grant is approved, the funds used for its stated purpose and the grant is closed, the fire department would be eligible to apply for another grant.

In order for the application to be approved, the quorum court had to agree to some terms by passing a series of resolutions to make the county compliant with AEDC grants programs Monday night.

The resolutions:

• Affirming Newton County's Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Policy stating it shall prohibit discrimination in public and private housing, in property ownership and in employment opportunities and shall promote open housing and equal opportunity employment.

• Prohibiting the use of excessive force by law enforcement under Newton County's jurisdiction against individuals engaged in non-violent civil rights demonstration.

• Establishing an anti-displacement plan for the county in compliance with the AECC grants programs.

Baker explained to the JPs that the resolutions are necessary to be eligible for a variety of AEDC grants, some include housing, but none of the resolutions are particularly pertinent to the proposed application involving the purchase of a fire truck.

The quorum court passed another resolution Monday night. This one was in support of the Compton Fire Department which is applying for an AEDC Rural Services grant to build a three-bay fire station.

The state grant would secure $15,000 to aid in the project. The county would administer the grant funds for the project.

The court also heard comments from the public concerning conditions of county roads following the recent heavy rains. County Judge Warren Campbell said road washouts have occurred throughout the county particularly in the Murray, Low Gap and Shiloh areas. He said the road department is working in those areas where people are unable or having difficulty getting out.

Jeff Dezort, Newton County Times editor, has worked at the newspaper since 2001. Before that he was a reporter, photographer and assistant editor of the Harrison Daily Times.

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