NASHVILLE – Continued efforts to fund the removal of asbestos from the former Howard Memorial Hospital building were the primary topic of discussion at Monday’s meeting of the Howard County Quorum Court.
County Judge Kevin Smith reported that he met with representatives from Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development and a Kansas-based consulting firm last week to discuss pursuing a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program. Smith told Justices of the Peace that turning the grounds into a county-owned park might aid in acquiring the grant, but that receiving the funding would require the county to temporarily transfer ownership of the property to SWAPD.
The JPs responded with some skepticism regarding the move, but Smith assured them the county would retain ownership of the grounds after cleanup efforts were completed.
In related business, the group approved an ordinance appropriating money for the project from the city of Nashville, which elected late last year to pay $875 toward the building’s asbestos abatement as part of a settlement agreement with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. The city had been fined $7,000 for 49 “effluent exceedances” said to have occurred between May 1, 2011 and May 30, 2014 at its waste water treatment plant, but paid just $2,625 to the state under the agreement.
Other business conducted during Monday’s meeting centered around selecting an avenue of investment for the county’s surplus funds. Treasurer Sherry Mixon told JPs that a previous interest rate quote from Red River Federal Credit Union had been offered to the county in error, leaving a slate of bank bids ranging from 0.25 percent to 0.75 percent for the group to choose from.
JPs were less than enthusiastic about the rates and asked Mixon to further investigate their options before making a decision.