Monday, April 18, 2016

Grant County to Implement $10 Charge for Non-Criminal Fingerprinting Services

The Grant County Quorum Court unanimously approved an ordinance allowing the sheriff's office to collect a $10 fee for non-criminal electronic fingerprinting services.

The service is often required for employment opportunities including teachers, healthcare and others. Recently the county has seen an increase in fingerprint requests for concealed carry permits. Grant  County Sheriff Ray Vance estimates his office has received six to eight recent requests for fingerprints related to concealed weapon permits.

Vance's office can waive the fee and does not plan to charge the fee for employment requirements but will implement the fee for requests that are not "necessary."

"Concealed weapon's I don't feel is quite a necessity," Vance said to the quorum court.

Arkansas House Bill 1227, passed in 2015, allows local law enforcement agencies to "charge a reasonable fee for noncriminal fingerprinting services to offset the cost of expenses associated with offering a noncriminal fingerprinting service." Vance said this is the same amount the Arkansas State Police charge for fingerprinting services.

Justice Alex White of Sheridan voted "no" on the first two readings of the ordinance which allowed for discussion. White proposed allowing the community to attend a future meeting for discussion. The ordinance unanimously passed after the third reading and takes effect after 30 days.

The quorum court also approved hiring Roof Connect to fix a five-layer flat roof and four skylights for an estimated 19,515.

The meeting was adjourned after Vance updated the justices about meetings with the state highway department after more than 20 accidents have occurred on the U.S. 167 bypass since it opened in March 2015. Vance said half of those accidents involved large trucks on both the south end and north end of the bypass. The state has about $330,000 to widen the south end of the ramp. Vance also noted the possibility of extending the time lights are red or yellow to allow additional time for cars to stop. He said a flashing yellow light was discussed but related expenses would be the responsibility of the county.

Monday, February 15, 2016

2040 Miles of Highway

Today I returned from a 2040 mile road trip. With no specific plan except to drive eastward and not use the interstate until our return trip, Ashley and I set off and eventually ended up driving about 1,025 miles on various U.S. and state highways to end up on the beach in South Carolina.

We didn't know how far we would get or even where we would end up, but hoped to see sights that we would otherwise miss by traveling by interstate. By Friday afternoon we had ended up back on U.S. 278 again and after determining we were too far North of Birmingham decided to continue following the U.S. highway. Two of the main things we saw were the longest "natural bridge" East of the Rocky Mountains and a covered bridge before ending up in Atlanta. We ended up Googling Atlanta and decided to stay the night, only to pay $20 for parking the first night and deciding to skip the activities we planned for Saturday. Instead we used the GPS and navigated via the back roads to Charleston, SC.

After officially reaching the coast, we began using the Interstate system. Before leaving the area we found a national park and even ended up seeing dolphins. Then it was on to I-26 all the way to I-40 and into the Smoky Mountains, then home.

It was an enjoyable trip but a tiring one. I am hopeful that I will be better about writing a few more follow up blogs about this trip than ones in the past:

  • Comparison of interstate driving and back road driving
  • Blogs by destination
  • Food

Friday, February 12, 2016

Destination Unknown Part 2: Houston, Mississippi to Atlanta, Georgia

Day two of our roadtrip began early Friday morning. We began the day by picking up a geocache in a local park in Houston before heading slightly north and eventually picking u p Highway 278 again. We traveled 278 most of the day with a few turns here and there to avoid following an interstate. But we would always find our way back. We haven't been using maps or a GPS on the trip so we hoped to end up in Birmingham and/or Huntsville but our route ended up passing North of one and South of the other. We did, however, make two stops -- the first one at the longest natural bridge East of the Rockies and the second at a covered bridge.

Based on road signs, we ended up making up our mind that we would try to make it to Atlanta. Ashley began looking at things to do in the city and we settled on staying in Georgia for the night. We decided to continue avoiding the interstate but to use the GPS once we were within 30 miles of Atlanta so we could find a hotel. After unloading the car, we headed on into downtown to find food and figure out where we were going Saturday morning for the Olympic park and CoaCola tour.

A word of advice, make sure there are no events in downtown Atlanta before going. We ended up paying $20 to park. Based on the price and the time to our next goal, we decided we will probably skip the tour and downtown tomorrow and continue on our journey. We now have the goal of reaching the East Coast without using interstates. Once we reach the coast, we will have driven from Sheridan, Ark. to the East Coast without using any interstates. After meeting that goal we will go as far as we can (using interstates) or until we reach that Appalachians. We hope to have time to spend a few hours in Gatlinburg and Smokey Mountain National Park.

Destination Unknown

Most of the time when I travel, I have a set destination with set sights I want to see. But one (of many) trips I have wanted to take was just to take off driving. This weekend, Ashley and I are doing just that. We left Sheridan, Ark. at about 4 p.m., Thursday afternoon and headed south. Shortly thereafter we turned onto AR35. This began new territory for me.

We passed through several towns I had heard of but never been to. I was actually surprised at the size of a few of them. I have to say, I don't think I have seen as many cemeteries along a single road as Highway 35.

When we crossed into Mississippi, we decided to stop at the casino and stretch our legs and backs. I carried in $17 and quickly spent $1. The next dollar went a little slower, but still was gone before long. I was satisfied after a cup of Pepsi and a cup of Mountain Dew that were free -- I'd gotten my two dollars worth. I decided to sit down at one more penny slot machine and put a $5 bill in. Finally,  I won a little something. I played myself back down to almost $5 before spinning another win and cashing out with $5.25 -- a net loss of $1.75. It was my first time in a real casino and I have to say I felt out of place. And here I thought it would be as simple as pulling a lever, not all those buttons!

We continued on through Greenville to find a bite to eat and fill up with gas before heading down some Mississippi highways.

All in all we made a 300 mile drive without interstates and without using maps. (I'm pretty sure I saw close to 300 deer too!) Eight hours later we stopped for the night. Back at it tomorrow! Where will we end up, who knows.