The hiring of a full-time sheriff’s deputy was approved during the

July session of the Polk County Quorum Court meeting held on July 27,

2021. Sheriff Scott Sawyer addressed the court stating that schedules

are currently being evaluated and the new 40-hour-a-week position will

increase patrols within areas in the county which has seen growth over

the past several years. Justice of the Peace Troy Lunsford questioned

the Sawyer as to which specific areas would be patrolled. Sawyer

stated Polk County Road 70, Big Fork, Opal, Board Camp and other

outlying areas. A vehicle will be provided during the initial onset of

the sheriff deputy; however, Sawyer stated a vehicle purchase would

have to be made in the future.

Also during the July meeting, a resolution declaring a vacancy in the

office of Justice of the Peace, District 9, was approved by Quorum

Court. The office was previously filled by Basil Kesterson who passed

away on Sunday, June 13, 2021. Governor Asa Hutchinson will appoint

someone to fill the vacancy until the term has expired.

Justice of the Peace Margo Kimp inquired Ellison about the upcoming

settlement in the Opioid lawsuit. “It will be soon. I say soon, but

it may be six months, but our attorneys are on that and who knows what

that really is going to look like, but like I’ve said all along, its

not going to be a big windfall for the counties… there will be a lot

of money but it will be used to stop addiction or to prevent addiction

and those kind of things,” said Judge Brandon Ellison. Once the

agreement has the approval of more than 40 states as well as hundreds

of cities and counties, the billions of dollars will then flow into

the states for the use of prevention, treatment and recovery. Ellison

stated it may likely be by the end of this year. Prosecuting Attorney

Jason Barrett shared with the court there is lack of rehabilitation

services within our community. “My office is required to provide

citizens when they come in for commitments with their loved ones for

drug and alcohol. Right now there is no facility to provide services

for this region….we try to put them as far away as Fort Smith or

Texarkana from time to time, but if they don’t have a bed, we are

not their primary zone so quite often we end up getting a commitment,

but there is not a lot of teeth behind it. There’s not a lot we can

really do to help,” shared Barrett. “We hope this money could

eventually provide services all over the state…”

“I hope they can be utilized for something besides opioids and they

can be used for alcohol and other types of drugs,” said Ellison.

“We have an opioid issue. But our issue is not opioids being a

gateway drug. It’s an alternative drug. When they get opioids, they

will take opioids. When they can’t get opioids, they are going to

take Meth. When they can’t get Meth, they will turn to heroin. We

have all kinds of different issues. They are all interconnected in a

way. They do different things, but the end result is the same, which

is to get high so I can forget reality…and that is what we got to

try and fight,” concluded Barrett.

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