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TEXARKANA, Arkansas — The Miller County Quorum Court approved a third reading of the Miller County Rural Volunteer Fire Department Handbook and members of the VFD Administrative Fire Board during their regular meeting Oct. 14.

The handbook resolution passed with seven votes and three against the measure.

The court also unanimously approved members of the fire board to include Jason Johnston for a one-year term, Penny Brennan Harris for a two-year term, Boyd Bryant for a three-year term, Steve Johnson for a four-year term and Walter Burnett for a five-year term.

Both resolutions have been controversial for the county. Miller County Judge Cathy Hardin Harrison has received pushback from VFD members, with some saying they did not need additional oversight and did not like the new handbook. It is based on a model used by the Conway County VFD and creates an emergency services district and puts the administrative board in place to oversee the activities of each station and to approve purchases over a certain amount.

In other business, the court voted to use the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality as oversight for the proposed county energy savings plan. Harrison said energy contractors including Trane and McKinstry, which have both submitted proposals to the county to do the work, which includes solar panels to reduce electrical costs, are ADEQ approved and that she welcomes the extra step in the process. She added that ADEQ charges a fee from $10,000 to $30,000, but that she was okay with paying that to oversee the project, which could possibly cost up to a million dollars.

"This is a third set of eyes," she said. "I don't have a problem with oversight."

Recent legislation allows counties to contract with companies to find energy savings and reduce energy costs without having to increase taxes or take a bond for the improvements.

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