Quo­rum Court fills va­cancy

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - TOM SISSOM Tom Sissom can be reached by email at tsis­som@nwadg.com or on Twit­ter at NWATom.

BEN­TONVILLE — Ben­ton County’s Quo­rum Court on Thurs­day seated its sixth new jus­tice of the peace for 2017, with Mike Jef­f­coat re­plac­ing Bill Burnett in the Dis­trict 5 seat on the court.

Jef­f­coat has been a res­i­dent of Ben­ton County since 1969 and served on the Rogers City Coun­cil from 1980 to 1990. He said he vol­un­teered his ser­vices on the Quo­rum Court out of grat­i­tude.

“Ben­ton County and Rogers have been so good to me I just wanted to give a lit­tle back,” he said.

Jef­f­coat said he op­er­ated the Ra­zor­back Auto Auc­tion for 25 years, be­gin­ning in 1984. He said he’s “semi-re­tired” but still serves as pres­i­dent of the Meals on Wheels pro­gram.

“I’m just hon­ored to be here with every­one,” he said. “I’m over­whelmed.”

Kevin Har­ri­son was the Dis­trict 5 in­cum­bent in 2016 and was re-elected in Novem­ber. Har­ri­son took a job with the Ben­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice af­ter the elec­tion and re­signed from the Quo­rum Court.

Burnett was ap­pointed in Fe­bru­ary to serve out the re­main­der of Har­ri­son’s term and re­signed in May af­ter learn­ing of a state law bar­ring own­ers of com­pa­nies do­ing busi­ness with the county from serv­ing in county and town­ship of­fices. Burnett is a mi­nor­ity share­holder in the Crafton Tull engi­neer­ing firm. Burnett’s res­ig­na­tion left the Dis­trict 5 seat va­cant for the sec­ond time this year.

The Dis­trict 3 seat also has been va­cant twice this year. Mary Jane Com­stock, cit­ing per­sonal rea­sons, de­clared she wouldn’t serve af­ter be­ing elected in Novem­ber. Jay Har­ri­son, the in­cum­bent for Dis­trict 3, agreed to serve un­til a re­place­ment was sworn in and Bar­ney Hayes of Rogers was ap­pointed to the seat in Fe­bru­ary. Hayes re­signed in April to take a seat on the Rogers City Coun­cil and James “J.D.” Hayes was ap­pointed to fill that va­cancy and was seated in May.

Dis­trict 3 and Dis­trict 5 are pri­mar­ily in Rogers. Va­can­cies on the Quo­rum Court are filled by ap­point­ment by the gover­nor, and ap­pointees are not el­i­gi­ble to run for the seat in the next elec­tion.

Also Thurs­day, Brenda Guen­ther, comptroller, told the jus­tices of the peace she met with the state In­sur­ance Board in Lit­tle Rock last week and the board up­held the county’s claim re­sult­ing from the theft of more then $1.1 mil­lion by a for­mer em­ployee, Con­nie Guild. Tom Allen, jus­tice of the peace for Dis­trict 4 and chair­man of the Fi­nance Com­mit­tee, said the com­mit­tee will dis­cuss where the $ 297,500 in in­sur­ance money will go in the bud­get when that panel meets Aug. 3.

In other busi­ness, the Quo­rum Court au­tho­rized the county to ap­ply for a pair of $15,000 grants for the NEBCO and High­way 94 East fire de­part­ments, both of which are in the process of ob­tain­ing new fire and res­cue boats for use on Beaver Lake.

“Ben­ton County and Rogers have been so good to me I just wanted to give a lit­tle back.” —Mike Jef­f­coat, new jus­tice of the peace

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/TOM SISSOM

Mike Jef­f­coat is sworn in Thurs­day as a Ben­ton County jus­tice of the peace by Cir­cuit Judge Brad Kar­ren in Ben­tonville.

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