County officials look forward to new year

Friday, January 11, 2013
Sheriff Larry Mills

County officials Judge Charles Nix and Sheriff Larry Mills shared their primary goals for the 2013 year. Both felt 2012 was a good year, and hope to accomplish just as much in 2013.

"Last year, we accomplished several things such as the Lard trial and the closing of the landfill," said Judge Nix.

The Lard trial involved a capital murder conviction of Jerry Lard in the shooting death of Trumann police officer Jonathon Schmidt during a traffic stop on April 12, 2011. The venue for the trail was eventually moved to Greene County for a panel of jurors less familiar with the case. The trial ended with Lard being found guilty of capital murder, attempted capital murder, and possession of methamphetamine. Lard was sentenced to death by lethal injection.

The Poinsett County landfill that Judge Nix referred to was a project started in 2011. The landfill was unused for five years due to cost reasons. All work on the closing of the landfill was finished by the end of 2012 with approximately $79,000 being spent on the project. The property is to be monitored for the next two years for required soil testing.

"After last year, our main goal is to keep the budget stable," said Judge Nix. "We have a quarter of a million dollars left in the reserve account after everything this past year."

Nix hopes to not see any big ticket items in 2013, and to work more on economic development on the county level. "We plan to get all of the cities in the county together for a centralized focus on the economic development," the judge said.

Recently, the county voted in favor of issue number one on the ballot involving highway improvement. "It will be next year before we really get much out of that tax raise," Judge Nix said. The county is looking at replacing some of the old bridges, as well as some drainage work within the cities.

Poinsett County Sheriff Larry Mills has been focusing on the new year for quite a while now. "One priority has already begun in light of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.," Mills said. He plans to start an active shooter training at the schools in Poinsett County.

Mills said Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Molder has already conducted an active shooter power point training at Harrisburg Schools. "It allowed school officials to know what to expect, and we could gather information as far as school policies," Sheriff Mills said.

He spoke with the Harrisburg police department and looks forward to teaming up with Trumann, Marked Tree, and Lepanto to do the same thing to make 2013 a productive year.

Mills said many things have changed in procedure due to previous school shootings. "Law enforcement used to obtain a perimeter around the building, now it's procedure to immediately gain entry to stop the shooter," said Mills. He hopes to conduct an active shooter training at each school in Poinsett County for the police departments and schools to be as prepared as possible in an active shooter case. He said there will be more training this year than past years.

The Poinsett County Sheriff's Department has a new program they hope to get more involvement in for the 2013 year called Smart911. This program is all across the country and provides critical lifesaving data to 911 operators in the event of an emergency.

"Citizens just put in a lot of optional information like an autistic child in the house all the way down to pets, and the operator is supplied with this information in the event of a 911 call," said Mills.

He encourages everyone to go to the website and enroll in the program.

In 2013, Mills said the daily chore for the Poinsett County Sheriff's Department will be resolving the drug problem in the area.

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