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KEB pursues state certification to join court program

Posted on March 29, 2019

By Tia Lyons
Staff Writer

The city may soon add a new weapon to its arsenal of tools and resources in a campaign to help clean up El Dorado.

Keeping El Dorado Beautiful is getting closer to a state certification that will make it eligible to work with a 35th Judicial District Court program in which defendants who opt for community service on misdemeanor offenses may volunteer with KEB.

KEB President Janis Van Hook said the group needs to complete Articles of Incorporation papers for nonprofit programs and submit the papers to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office.

The certification would allow KEB to become a local community/alternative service provider in order to take advantage of the court program.

Van Hook said she is hoping KEB will be certified by the group’s next regularly scheduled meeting on April 15.

Signatures from KEB officers president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary — are needed for AIC paperwork and Van Hook said the group is awaiting one signature from Mary McAdams, KEB secretary and former El Dorado City Council member.

“Hopefully, we’ll have that by (today) and we’ll have our certification by the next meeting. We should probably hear back from the state by then. That’s what I’m looking for,” Van Hook said.

KEB’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. April 15 at Clean Harbors.

Judge Jack Barker, of 35th Judicial District Court, has said he is eager to get the local program off the ground, noting that the number of local community/ alternative service providers that work with district court has dwindled.

Barker has also said the district court program, which is handled by the district court administrator, can track the number of hours defendants work to pay off fines and the amount they owe to make sure the hours are properly recorded by the court.

Defendants earn $10 an hour and the amount is credited to the balance of their fines, the judge explained.

Additionally, district court has a waiver of liability for defendants who opt for community service to pay off fines.

The next step in the process would be to speak with the city about providing assistance, including a manager for the program and transportation for participants, Van Hook said.

“We’re trying to wait until we get this paperwork back and then go to her (Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer),” she said, adding that she has informally mentioned the project to the mayor.

“We will invite her to the April 15 meeting or if that doesn’t work for her, we’ll see about scheduling a special meeting,” Van Hook said. “She may have to take it to the city council. I’m not sure. We’ll meet with her and find out what the procedure is to get that done.”

She said KEB members can also volunteer to help supervise the program.

Student projects

KEB is also finalizing details for Earth Day (April 22) events and other activities that are being planned in conjunction with local schools.

The group is organizing an art/poster contest for elementary and middleschool students.

The contest will be open to students in the El Dorado School District and West Side Christian School.

Cash prizes will be awarded to winners in each category (first and second grade; third and fourth grade; and fifth and sixth grade) and to an overall winner from each school.

During a regular meeting March 25, KEB discussed ways to work with the school district to promote the contest and the rules and guidelines.

The deadline to submit posters will be April 26 and judging will take place May 3.

Van Hook said the group will also check with KEB member Jeri Ratcliff for an update on plans for the annual “Plant the Town Purple,” in which KEB distributes lowmaintenance, purple plants to students at Northwest elementary school, also known as the Northwest Environmental Studies Academy.

In recognition of Earth Day, students are encouraged to take the plants home and ask their family members to plant them in their yards to help beautify the city with a splash of El Dorado High School Wildcat purple.

KEB is also working on a project to distribute litter bags and other promotional materials, such as stickers and pencils, to help educate the area’s youth about litter, recycling and beautification.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or