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JPs approve 2013 county budget

The Van Buren County Quorum Court unanimously approved the 2013 budget for the county at its Dec. 20 meeting.

The budget included appropriations of $6.4 million for the General Fund; $4.3 million for county roads; $1.03 million for the Van Buren County Detention Center; and $1.06 million for the sheriff’s office. The ordinance is No. 2012-18.

Also at the meeting, Sheriff Scott Bradley gave an end-of-the-year report. In it, he said deputies made 2,684 arrests in 2012 as opposed to 2,800 in 2011.

He said the South Side School superintendent, Billy Jackson, had contacted him asking for a resource officer for the school in light of the Dec. 14 Connecticut massacre at an elementary school. Bradley said Jackson wants the same deal as Shirley Schools have with the sheriff’s office, which is an officer and a unit. The school will pay the officer’s salary and the officer will be chosen by Bradley and Jackson.

“I think it’s a necessity that we have officers in our schools,” Bradley said. “It’s a shame.” He said there will be training this summer on how the county would respond to a situation like that in Connecticut.

Clinton School’s resource officer is provided by the city.

Bradley said he would also like to see a security officer at Ozark Health Medical Center. “Stressful situations take place there,” he said.

Also:

• County Board of Governors Chairman Donnie Collins addressed the justices of the peace. He said almost $7 million has been spent so far on the hospital construction project. There have been 10 change orders, costing $340,000, and $206,000 remain in contingency fees.

He said Jan. 14, 2013, is the date the construction should be completed, and after an inspection by the Health Department, the building can be used for its intended purpose.

Collins said the contractor’s work on the construction project is 88 percent complete.

• Animal Control director Pam Hopkins gave her end-of-year report. She said that year-to-date her office has picked up or had dropped off 444 dogs and 214 cats. Hopkins said rescue groups have taken many of the dogs and the latest batch to be rescued are on their way to Wisconsin. Currently, the shelter has 41 dogs and 16 cats, she said.

Hopkins said food donations are down, but because of Walmart the shelter has not had to buy food recently. The Clinton store gives all its broken bags of food to the shelter, she said.

She also said it has been more than six months since a healthy dog has been euthanized. “I’m very proud of that,” Hopkins said.

• County Judge Roger Hooper noted that if luck held the rest of the year, 2012 will be the first time in five years that there has been no declared emergency in the county.

• The Quorum Court voted unanimously to approve an ordinance to levy and collect property taxes. That ordinance is 2012-17.

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