UPDATE: Hot Spring County searching for new coroner

Staff Writer

The Quorum Court of Hot Spring County has declared the position of Hot Spring County Coroner vacant. According to 2010 Arkansas Code Title 14: County Elective Offices — Vacancies in all county elective offices shall be filled by the county quorum court through the process of resolution as prescribed by law.
Aaron Davis was elected to the position of Hot Spring County Coroner in November 2016, taking office on Jan. 1, 2017. His resignation was effective Friday, July 14 said County Judge Dennis Thornton.

Original story as published Thursday, July 20
On Wednesday, July 19, the Quorum Court of Hot Spring County passed a resolution declaring the position of Hot Spring County Coroner vacant. According to 2010 Arkansas Code Title 14: County Elective Offices — Vacancies in all county elective offices shall be filled by the county quorum court through the process of resolution as prescribed by law.
Aaron Davis was elected to the position of Hot Spring County Coroner in November 2016, taking office on Jan. 1, 2017. His resignation was effective Friday, July 14 said County Judge Dennis Thornton.
The county is currently taking resumes for persons interested in the coroner position. However, the person appointed by the court will not be allowed, per law, to succeed themselves in the next general election. Resumes will be accepted at the county judge’s office until 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 25. The Quorum Court will hold its regular committee meeting at 6 p.m. that evening in the large courtroom. All persons submitting resumes must be present at that time to be considered.
Davis has made several accusations about issues with the quorum court as reason for his resignation.
After the special meeting, some justices explained the duties of the court and the importance of staying within the county’s budget.
It’s up to the Justices of the Peace who make up the Quorum Court to make sure the county’s money stays within its budget. Each elected official has a budget that is approximated from the previous year’s spending. That means when an elected official’s department needs more funds, the court needs to know why it’s needed. This allows the justices to convey to their constituents (tax payers) the reason for giving one department more than another.
Members of the court said that Davis had not returned to court meetings to explain any additional funds needed. “We expected him to come back. Especially for vehicle and maintenance issues,” said Justice Don Hillyard.
However Davis had visited with the county judge on more than one occasion, who instructed him to go to the JPs because all funding increases must be approved by them.
According to records, Davis visited with Quorum Court Budget and Finance Committee members on Jan. 24 after taking office. At that meeting he informed justices that he was in need of more funds for the department.
Davis told the court that one item in great need for the coroner office was a crime scene camera. He said it was important that photos be taken in case foul play is suspected. He is quoted as saying, “When I came in, I didn’t have any body bags. I need body bags, toxicology supplies and evidence seals,” during a meeting.
A proposal was made and submitted to the court, who approved the budget amendment on at its Feb. 13 meeting.
The amendment was to finance supplies for the coroner’s office. It included $1,000 for small equipment $1,500 for fuel, $500 for medical supplies and $500 for education. At that meeting Davis was asked “why the coroner needed the additional funds, although we understand there was a need.” Davis responded to the question, stating that when he took office he had no equipment or supplies left from former coroner.
Justice Joshua Anderson asked Davis if the funds would be all he would need for the year, Davis’s reply was that he wasn’t sure yet.
Reports also show that a vehicle was supplied by the Sheriff’s Office and a computer was being donated by Encore Healthcare and Rehabilitation.
Hot Spring County is known to be a struggling county, one of the lowest paying counties in Arkansas. The budget of the Coroner is approximately $15,500, including salary, social security matching, equipment, supplies, education and miscellaneous needs. The 2017 budget was increased by $3,000 from the previous year.

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