During the monthly Bradley County Quorum Court meeting held Monday, October 18, 2021, the Bradley County Quorum Court voted 6-0, with two absent and one vacancy, to instruct County Attorney Ricky Roper to write a letter to LaSalle Corrections and ask their intentions as to building the private prison in Warren to house state inmates and local county prisoners.
At the September Quorum Court meeting, LaSalle management were present and stated the contract, as it exists between the company and the county, is “not feasible.”
Mr. Roper told the justices that at this time the County has a contract with LaSalle to build and house some 500 inmates, both state and local, and another contract with the Arkansas Department of Corrections agreeing for Bradley County to accept 500 inmates from the State. The attorney indicated Bradley County is in compliance with the contracts and if LaSalle is not going to proceed, they are in default. Mr. Roper recommended the Court send the letter, and based upon the response the Court decide what, if any, action to take.
In September LaSalle told the County their contract and the price to house inmates was based on the securing of federal prisoners to make the project cost effective and they are now unable to secure federal inmates. They suggested the County consider a 34 million dollar bond issue to build, own, and operate the prison since the County is theoretically eligible to hold federal inmates.
Mr. Roper told the Court a response is needed in writing from LaSalle, not a verbal statement. JP Jim Anders stated the County was never under the understanding that federal prisoners were required to make the contract work financially.
In other action, the court passed ordinance #764, amending the County personnel policy to cover 30% of employees’ family health insurance should the employee choose to cover their family. Next, the Court approved ordinance #765 to amend a grant for the hospital to cover administrative costs. Also approved was ordinance # 766 which will release County residents who contract with a private solid waste hauler to handle their commercial and residential waste from paying county residential waste. This will eliminate some 65 County customers. Judge McKinney reported that both Hermitage and Banks have contracted with private firms to haul both residential and commercial waste, thus taking all their customers out of the County system, which will reduce County solid waste revenues. The Judge indicated he did not see those actions comng.
County Coroner Sammie Warren addressed the Court concerning her request for additional pay for deputy coroners and the need for supplies to be paid for by the County. She discussed state training requirements for coroners and deputies and a need for an office and transportation. Ms. Warren stated local funeral homes are providing a lot of services free, that are not their responsibility. The Court indicated they would review any request as they prepare the 2022 budget. They made no commitments as to what would be approved. The coroner is an elected county office as mandated by the Arkansas Constitution. The Bradley County Coroner is considered a part-time position.
Shane Knight, The Solid Waste Director for the Southeast Arkansas Solid Waste Board, addressed the Court about the status of solid waste collection and cost throughout the State and particularly Southeast Arkansas. He recommended the county seriously consider contracting all solid waste services to a private company.