Emergency Rental Assistance Funds Projected to be Disbursed by November, Begins Transition to State Program

Pulaski County has closed applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The county has disbursed approximately 60 percent of its ERAP funds to rent and utility assistance to households; the remaining funds are obligated to pending applicants.

Pulaski County is working with the Arkansas Department of Human Services to transition completed applications to their program by the first of November. Applicants should expect notification letters in the coming weeks.

“This program was beyond anything we could have imagined in terms of the significant need,” said Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde. “We ask for patience as we transition from the County ERAP program to DHS’s rental assistance program. I commend Community Services Director Fred Love and his staff for projecting the end of program funding and immediately executing a transition plan. We appreciate the state’s willingness to work with us to ensure Pulaski County residents remain in stable housing.”

Pulaski County received $10.5 million from the U.S. Treasury for the Emergency Rental Assistance program in April 2021. Since launching the program, the county has received more than 18,000 applications.

“I’m proud that we have been able to help families through this challenging time,” said Hyde. “Pulaski County Community Services employees have done a yeoman’s job. They’ve worked through staffing shortages, COVID-19 exposure, and the overwhelming amount of applications. They’ve been the true demonstration of public servants.”

County Nears 90 Percent Solar Power with Public Service Commission Approval

The Arkansas Public Service Commission approved Pulaski County’s application to build a net-metering facility in excess of 1,000 kilowatts. The approval was made possible through the Arkansas Renewable Energy Development Act of 2001.

“We are very excited to move forward with our solar project. We’ve been working diligently for the past six years to see it come to fruition. In combination with our first solar array, located near the county jail, the county will near 90 percent solar-powered once online,” said Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde.

The solar array will be constructed in the Little Rock Port Authority on Zeuber Road. As stated in the order, by County Attorney Adam Fogleman, “the project will provide multiple benefits including distribution system, environmental, public policy and economic benefits.”

See PSC order of approval

http://www.apscservices.info/pdf/20/20-062-U_26_1.pdf

County Judge’s COVID-19 Executive Order Updated Through Oct. 3

From the executive order: The pandemic novel virus COVID-19 has continued its spread across the nation, including Arkansas and Pulaski  County, and while numbers fell significantly this spring, the Delta variant of COVID-19 has resulted in the exponential growth of the number of confirmed positive cases. Hospitals across the south are at or near capacity, and COVID is causing an unsustainable strain on hospitals already struggling to staff their facilities.

Therefore, County Judge Barry Hyde declared that the state of public health emergency will continue and be renewed, and this order shall continue through October 3, 2021.

COVID-19 Updated Executive Order – Sept/Oct 2021

County Program Aims to Address Mental Health Challenges in Families and Educators

“Mental Health Heroes” Assists Those Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pulaski County (September 1, 2021) – From our oldest to youngest, Arkansans have been affected by the pandemic in ways that have changed lives forever. Since March 2020, Pulaski County has recorded the most cases, deaths and hospitalizations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research shows that children in Arkansas are more likely to endure adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) than children in most other states because of the pandemic.

Pulaski County Youth Services, known for its innovative programming, has launched a free counseling program focused on those directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in Pulaski County.

The Pulaski County Youth Services Mental Health Heroes program provides resources through therapy and counseling sessions for students, educators and school support staff directly impacted by the loss of a loved one to Covid-19, addressing the potential academic loss with various tutoring and academic enhancement opportunities, physical fitness and nutrition activities, and planned monthly events for the families and school staff.

“Due to the catastrophic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, I felt it was our responsibility to address the emotional well-being of our youth. I envisioned PCYS creating a program that would directly impact youth who lost a parent, sibling, or teacher to COVID-19,” Pulaski County Youth Services Director Jamie Scott said. “By implementing the Mental Health Heroes program, we will address the mental health issues and more, impacting these families during this global pandemic.”

PCYS is partnering with Arkansas Holistic Therapy, Roots-Raices Bilingual Counseling, A Better You Therapeutic Solutions, Key 2 Success Counseling, Argenta Counseling and Life Strategies Counseling, Inc.

“Director Scott and her staff have worked tirelessly for months on creating the Mental Health Heroes program to address the needs of our youth and families in our county, as mental health has risen to be one of the unaddressed pressing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are excited to partner with various local organizations to bring this needed program to fruition,” County Judge Barry Hyde said.

For more information, call PCYS at 501-340-8250, email Machael Borders-Hoskin at mborders-hoskin@pulaskicounty.net or register below.

Mental Health Heroes – Youth Link

Mental Health Heroes – School Staff Link

County JP Re-Appointed to NACo Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee

Justice of the Peace Paul Elliott, District 14

Pulaski County Justice of the Peace Paul Elliot, District 14, was recently reappointed as a Law Enforcement Subcommittee Vice Chair on the Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee by the National Association of Counties (NACO).

In his role as vice-chair, he will guide the steering committee in its focus on criminal justice and public safety systems. He was chosen for his strength, leadership and dedication to serving his community during these challenging times, NACO officials said.

County Housing Agency Contracts with Vendor to Process ERA Applications

Since March 2021, the Pulaski County Housing Agency has disbursed approximately $2.5 million in emergency rental assistance funds to landlords on behalf of tenants who are several months behind on their rent.

However, seeing the need was much more significant than staffing capacity, the county signed an agreement with AG Witt, LLC to process emergency rental assistance applications and establish a call center.

“Our prime concern is to process applications as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said County Judge Barry Hyde. “We are pleased to have AG Witt on board to assist, and our housing agency will continue to process applications as well. With both entities involved, I’m confident we will see relief among Pulaski County families who have been struggling to pay rent throughout the pandemic.

Apply for Emergency Rental Assistance
(We’ve closed our program to new applications, Oct. 6, 2021)

Note: Updated Aug 3. 2021, the CDC extended its Eviction Protection Declaration to October 2021.

County Steps Closer to Southwest Trail Construction

After the Environmental Assessment was approved for the Southwest Trail in November 2020, the design team at Garver USA initiated a corridor topographic and right-of-way survey, along with preliminary engineering.

Surveying is now complete, and the preliminary design for the trail is well underway for the 4.25-miles of Pulaski County-owned right-of-way, beginning at Hilaro Springs Road and ending at the Saline County line. Within this stretch of the trail, three pedestrian bridges will be constructed to accommodate the trail.  Pulaski County has received FLAP grant funding to build all three pedestrian bridges.

The survey teams are almost finished collecting data for the first 7-miles of trail in Saline County, starting from the Pulaski County line. Preliminary engineering for that segment will commence later this summer.

In July, Pulaski and Saline Counties worked together to submit a RAISE Grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation for $25 million. If awarded, the grant covers most of the trail construction costs between Little Rock Central High School and the western edge of Saline County.

Pulaski County, Saline County and the City of Benton submitted separate grant requests to Metroplan on July 30 for construction funds. If successful, those funds allow construction of a continuous 7-mile segment from southern Pulaski County into northern Saline County and a 1.6-mile segment in southern Benton.

About the Southwest Trail

Executive Order Requires Face Coverings to Enter County Buildings

An executive order issued by Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde requires all visitors to wear face coverings when entering county facilities effective Monday, August 9, 2021.

See executive order

Pulaski County Joins Lawsuit Challenging Act 1002

Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde and Pulaski County Sheriff Eric Higgins filed a motion to join as plaintiffs, challenging the constitutionality of Act 1002.

Hyde and Higgins requested to join Pulaski County parents Veronica McClane and Ashley Simmons, represented by Rogers attorney Tom Mars. Pulaski County Attorney Adam Fogleman will represent the County Judge and the County Sheriff.

In a preliminary hearing Friday morning, Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox granted a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of Act 1002, meaning the state and local officers may impose a mask mandate within county buildings.

“This is an important step toward correcting an error by the Arkansas General Assembly,” said County Judge Barry Hyde. “Thanks to the court’s decision, I plan to issue an executive order effective Monday reinstituting a face-covering requirement.”

“The safety of jail employees, detainees and visitors is paramount,” said County Sheriff Eric Higgins. “We will continue to follow the CDC guidelines including wearing of masks and the recommendations of the ADH.”

The County Judge and Sheriff, on Thursday, challenged Act 1002 on two bases:  1) Act 1002 would treat local correctional facilities and juvenile detention facilities differently than similar state-run facilities, and 2) Act 1002 would interfere with the County Judge’s constitutional authority and responsibilities.

As stated in the motion: Hyde is the “custodian of county buildings and is responsible for the administration and care of the property in his custody. The Pulaski County Courthouse, Regional Detention Facility and the Pulaski County Juvenile Justice Complex/District Courts are three such county buildings that fall within his custody and care. The county judges of Arkansas have a constitutional obligation to provide reasonably safe environs to county officers and the circuit courts within the resources afforded by the county’s Quorum Court. Sheriff Higgins is the operational custodian of the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility and responsible for the safekeeping of its detainees.”

Today’s order prevents the enforcement of Act 1002 and ensures that Judge Hyde and Sheriff Higgins have access to a necessary tool to ensure that the people they employ and the public they serve are best protected when delivering and receiving essential county services.

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