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Rogers man named to Quorum Court

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BENTONVILLE -- James "J.D." Hayes of Rogers has been appointed to the District 3 seat on the Benton County Quorum Court.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Hayes to serve out the remainder of the term that will end December 2018.

Quorum Court vacancies

Arkansas law says when a justice of the peace is unable or unwilling to serve the county must advertise the vacancy and the Quorum Court must declare the post vacant. The governor then appoints someone to serve the remainder of the term. A person appointed to serve cannot run for the position in the next election.

Source: Benton County

Hayes will be the third person to serve as District 3 justice of the peace this year. Mary Jane Comstock was elected in November, but declined to serve. Jay Harrison, the incumbent who had chosen not to run for re-election, agreed to serve until a replacement for Comstock could be named. Hutchinson appointed Barney Hayes of Rogers to the seat Feb. 8, but he resigned March 28 to take a seat on the Rogers City Council. Barney Hayes and James Hayes aren't related.

James Hayes, who served in the Air Force from 1993 through 1997, said he has lived in the county since 1997, working in sales within the Wal-Mart supplier community until 2010 when he began to acquire commercial and residential investment property. He owns more than a dozen investment properties, he said, and in the last four years also has taken an interest in new residential development.

Hayes said he's been interested in national and state-level politics, but has never been active in local government.

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He submitted an application when the vacancy was announced earlier this year and was pleased to be considered when the post became open again. Hayes said he has no pre-conceived ideas about county government.

"I pride myself on taking a fact-based approach to problem-solving," he said. "I want to weigh both sides and apply what I know."

County Judge Barry Moehring said Hayes' committee assignments will include Public Safety, Personnel and Legislative. Hayes said he's aware of the ongoing work on a new courts building and he looks forward to being involved.

The county has settled on a building site on Northeast Second Street in downtown Bentonville, just off the square. The county has advertised for architects and consultants to work on the design of a building for that location, and Moehring said he hopes to make a selection by the end of May. The county will aim for the design drawings to be ready by September.

Joel Jones, justice of the peace, is chairman of the Public Safety Committee that has overseen the project for the Quorum Court. Jones said Hayes will have to do some quick learning, but he'll enter the discussion at a good time. The county has settled on the location, but still must work out design details, financing and construction.

"We're not quite at square one, but we're going to talk about everything anyway," Jones said. "It's not too difficult for a new JP if they go in and talk to Barry and get caught up on the previous studies. If they're paying attention they can get up to speed pretty quickly."

Hayes also will get a crash course in county employment policies and practices as the Personnel Committee soon will begin work on a personnel policy handbook and the mid-year personnel requests from elected officials. Shirley Sandlin, justice of the peace and head of the Personnel Committee, said county government, like most governments, operates in its own way and people with business backgrounds are often surprised.

"It's going to be a learning experience for anyone," Sandlin said. "He will have a variety of things to become familiar with and not a lot of time or information. Hopefully, he's going to be willing to ask questions. We will make him welcome and go on from there."

NW News on 05/19/2017

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