TOP STORY > >Lonoke County jail tax approved
and RICK KRON
Leader staff writers
The idea of a tax to build a big, safe jail to lock up those who need it just squeezed by in Lonoke County Tuesday.
By a vote of 3,774 to 3,336, voters agreed to tax themselves with a one-cent countywide sales tax for one year to raise about $5.5 million to build a 140-bed jail. The current jail is built to hold about half that number, but sometimes has more than 90.
It is dark, dank and dangerous for both prisoners and guards.
The Lonoke County Quorum Court unanimously placed the tax on the primary ballot, and all the candidates for the quorum court said they favored the one-year sales tax proposal. Even the Lonoke County Republican Party endorsed the tax.
County residents can hardlyremember approving a tax increase other than for schools.
Well-known county Prosecutor Lona McCastlain lost her bid to unseat District 23 Division Two Judge Phillip Whiteaker by a three-to-two margin.
Whiteaker grabbed 4,196 votes, while McCastlain garnered 2,962. She will continue in her role as county prosecutor.
Division One Judge Barbara Elmore maintained her position on the bench, defeating Chuck Graham by a 2-to-1 margin, 4,780 votes to 2,257.
In the sheriff’s race, Sheriff Jim Roberson will run on the Republican side and Steve Rich on the Democratic ticket in November.
Roberson handily defeated his challenger John Staley, 2,513 to 830 votes, while Rich pushed past his Democratic challenger Samuel Chamberlain, 1,755 to 1,607 votes.
Lonoke County justice of the peace primary winners were Democrats Adam Sims and Roger Lynch and Republicans Janette Minton, Larry Odom, Tim Lemons and Alexis Malham.
The three-way race for Justice of the Peace District 10 seat will result in a run-off between Ronald Evans and Bill Ryker.
Former Rep. Randy Minton lost his bid to return to the state legislature. He was defeated by Davy Carter, 1,338 to 1,086. Since there was no Democrat on the ballot, the seat will go to Carter.
Judge Joe O’Bryan easily defeated his opponent Ken Williams, 3,043 to 1,437, to stay on the bench of the Lonoke County Northern District Court in Cabot.
However, things are murky for the Lonoke County Southern District Court.
Teresa Hallum Smith bested challenger Ginger Stuart Schafer in the city of Lonoke, but lost to Joe Svoboda in Carlisle and England.