By Ray King
The Jefferson County Quorum Court on Monday approved an ordinance which will allow the county to enter into a lease purchase agreement with the P3 Group who will arrange financing, then build a new Jefferson County Health Department, Veteran’s Service Office and Coroner’s Office.
The three projects are expected to cost about $14 million and the county will make annual payments on the note beginning in 2021.
After the vote, Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson talked about the need for the new buildings.
The vote followed public comments that went on for more than an hour with most of those speaking favoring the proposal, including Scott Robinson of Robinson and Sons Funeral Homes. Speaking about the current coroner’s office, Robinson said if one family were to be in the building and got hurt if the walls fell in, it would cost the county a lot of money. “The community deserves better,” he said.
Carlton Saffa, the project manager for the Saracen Casino said that from the outset, Quapaw Chief John Berrey has made It clear that he supports the project for a new health center building and repeated that support.
Otis Goodloe, who is a veteran and uses the current veteran’s service office on Main Street said that when he and other veterans go to the office to get a ride to the V.A. Hospital in Little Rock, they have to “stand out in the weather and they don’t even have a bathroom. It’s important to have a building to take care of business.”
“We need to do this,” Justice of the Peace Roy Agee said, then talked about the importance of taking care of the county’s employees/
Nine members of the Quorum Court voted yes to begin the project. Dr. Coley Byrd Jr. cast the only no vote. Justices of the Peace Dr. Herman Ginger and Alfred Carroll Jr., are both hospitalized and missed the meeting.