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Quorum Court considers upgrading lockup system at Miller County jail | Panel could vote on $3,000 in COVID-19 hazard pay for employees

by Greg Bischof | August 9, 2021 at 6:33 a.m. | Updated August 9, 2021 at 3:42 p.m.

TEXARKANA, Ark. - Digital central control locking system improvements for the jail, along with COVID-19 hazard pay for employees, will be two topics discussed during the Miller County Quorum Court's monthly meeting at 6 p.m. today.

The Justices of the Peace, who will meet inside the Texarkana Arkansas City Hall second floor board room, will be looking at financing $188,000 worth of detention center control locking system improvements, along with needed new software.

During a joint meeting between the county Quorum Court's Budget and Finance Committee and Jail Committee late last month, Miller County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Mark Lewis said a turn-key replacement of the jail's 20-year-old analog system with a central digital control system - complete with monitored entrance and exit points - will help to better utilize jail staff.

Lewis said the digital upgrade funds could be drawn from the $1.4 million the county received earlier this year, in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds.

As for the Coronavirus hazard pay, four of the county's judicial offices and at least three county government offices are seeking the set amount of $3,000 per employee. This would amount to at least $81,000 for the collective judicial 0ffices and $51,000 for the government offices.

The requesting judicial offices would include: the Circuit Court Office ($21,000), Circuit Court Clerk's Office ($21,000) Prosecuting Attorney's Office ($24,000) and the Miller County Juvenile Court ($15,000).

The requesting government offices would include: the Tax Collector's Office ($15,000), Tax Assessor's Office ($21,000) and the County Clerk's Office ($15,000).

Miller County Tax Collector Laura Bates said even though the courthouse was closed to the public for several weeks during the March and April time frame of 2020, she said her staff would still go outside to meet residents seeking to pay taxes and ask questions.

Miller County Tax Assessor Nancy Herron said her staff would also go outside to meet residents who drove to the courthouse and called from their cars, asking questions about their property assessments and other paperwork.

Miller County Elections Clerk Tonya Bohn said during the 2020 election primary, the staff met voters who came and waited outside the courthouse to receive absentee ballots.

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