Ramona Wilson attended her last quorum court meeting as Circuit Clerk Monday night, and she received a standing ovation during a plaque presentation at the end of the meeting. She will retire at the end of this month after a long career in that office.
“I’m usually not at a loss for words,” Wilson said after receiving the plaque, but she took a breath and reminisced about a career that has lasted almost as long as her 50-year marriage. Wilson said her public service has been “a huge part of my life,” and she spoke of her commitment to treating everyone who entered her office with the same degree of respect and attention. She thanked all the voters who returned her to office every two years.
Earlier in the evening, JPs passed a resolution declaring the upcoming vacancy, and naming Marilyn Ferrier to fill the remaining two years of Wilson’s term. As an appointee, Ferrier will not be eligible to run for the office in 2022.
JP Jack Deaton asked, “If we don’t approve this, does [Wilson] have to stay?” Wilson started working with the county on Dec. 2, 1972.
Members of the personnel committee recommended Ferrier, who began working in the office in 2014. She has served as Wilson’s chief deputy the past four years and had no desire to run in 2022. “Carroll County will be in good hands,” Wilson promised.
During public comments, Suellyn Fry raised concerns about the radio service for fire and ambulance responders, especially in south Carroll County. She mentioned a pair of serious highway accidents on U.S. Hwy. 412, one of which she worked as a first responder. Communication difficulties compounded already serious situations. “Somebody’s going to die needlessly one of these days,” she warned. JP Harrie Farrow asked if the situation was getting worse. Frye said the problems have continued since a system overhaul.
JP Jack Deaton said a new antenna has been installed, with good results. JPs later approved the expenditure of $83,000 for the upgrades. The ordinance included language about the emergency nature of the repairs, because “the central dispatch system has been rapidly falling and is in need of emergency upgrades and repairs.” The cost includes equipment, installation, and a multi-year maintenance contract.
During the Miscellaneous portion of the agenda, Amy Leivan spoke on behalf of the Eastern Carroll County Ambulance District. She said radio service in rural areas has improved. She gave JPs an update on ECCAD finances, and discussed additional training for dispatchers, to prepare them to coach people through medical emergencies until trained responders arrive. Deaton explained that dispatchers with that additional training would usually leave for higher wages elsewhere, and Leivan agreed that turnover would be a problem.
In other business:
- At a recent meeting, JPs discussed acquiring laptop computers to replace the agenda packets they receive in the mail each month. Between the costs of paper, postage, and the office time to prepare those packets, the county will eventually recover the $5,500 cost. Computers could also connect to virtual meetings if the county has to return to stricter meeting restrictions. County Clerk Connie Doss said having everyone on the same type of device would simplify virtual meetings. Deaton warned the others to weigh their commitment to using the laptops, since the county would no longer send the paper packets. All agreed to the change to electronic distribution, and laptops will remain county property if a JP leaves office.
- JPs passed the second and third readings of the 2021 budget. The general fund has $5.66 million in projected expenditures, against projected revenues of $5.8 million.
- A resolution formally declared a vacancy in District 4, with the resignation of JP Marty Johnson. Deaton said the governor will appoint someone to fill the remaining year on Johnson’s term, although the quorum court can suggest names for the governor to consider.
- JP Chuck Olson, speaking on behalf of the building committee, said work on the parapet wall on the courthouse annex in Berryville is continuing.
- Jennifer Roney was approved for a three-year term on the Eastern Carroll County Ambulance District Board.
- Ann Waits was approved for a three-year term as a commissioner on the board of the Inspiration Point Rural Fire Protection District.
- Sheri Bickel was appointed to fill the final year of a term representing the Berryville Library Board on the Carroll County Library Department of Trustees
- The JPs approved Richard Ott, Ted Meyer, Joe Jenquine, Brenda Kellam, and Mac McGowen for staggered terms on the Sylvan Shores Subordinate Service District.
The quorum court will next meet at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 4, to set the meeting time and date for the next two calendar years. Prosecuting Attorney Tony Rogers has asked the JPs to consider a day other than Monday, since circuit court often runs late on Monday. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Allgood attends quorum court to answer legal questions. He also has other duties in circuit court.
The quorum court has not been meeting in the Berryville courthouse, but when quorum court and circuit court shared a single courtroom, the quorum court occasionally had to meet elsewhere if circuit court had a long docket.