Director tells quorum court juvenile center on track for successful transition into a therapeutic facility

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At last night’s meeting of the Independence County Quorum Court, the facility director of the White River Juvenile Center told justices the facility is on track to a successful transition into a therapeutic facility for survivors of sex trafficking. (For more on that story, click here.)

Jonathan Pickering told JPs the center received two juveniles in the month of May: a 14-year-old female trafficked by a 35-year-old male who had also impregnated her, and a 13-year-old who had been traded for drugs by her mother. The mother also forcibly injected the girl with methamphetamine in order to better control her, said Pickering.

“We’re just having huge successes,” he said while also noting the kids are still held accountable for negative behavior.

The court also approved the 2017-18 audit of the White River Hydroelectric Project. The audit — conducted by Welch, Couch & Company, PA — shows the project reporting an operating income of $237,666 in 2018 with a net loss of just over $2 million. In 2017, the project reported an operating income of $653,917 and a net loss of over $1.5 million.

Independence County Judge Robert Griffin noted he has a written legal opinion (from Larry Chisenhalla, a utility attorney) stating that Independence County, as a government entity, is not liable for the shortcomings of the hydroelectric project. County money is not going into the loss, the judge said — only funds from the hydroelectric project, an entity separate from the government of Independence County.

The court also voted in support of the expansion of the Future I-57 with Griffin noting the project can have great significance long-term.

The corridor, which stretches 120 miles between North Little Rock and Walnut Ridge, will provide a direct connection between Chicago, Ill. and Little Rock. The designation of I-57 is expected to encourage economic growth in northeast Arkansas.

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