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