A request from Jefferson County Circuit Clerk Lafayette Woods Sr., to hire two additional deputy clerks in his office was rejected by the Chairman of the Quorum Court’s Finance Committee before it was ever discussed Thursday.


The committee meetings, which were normally held on Tuesday were moved to Thursday because of the primary elections.


Justice of the Peace Ted Harden turned down Woods’ request, saying “We don’t have the money.”


“If we do this for one office we would have to do it for all of them,” Harden said.


In a letter to County Judge Gerald Robinson and members of the Quorum Court, Woods said his office is not automated to the point “where it can operate with the present number of Criminal and Civil Deputy Clerks.”


Last year, Woods filed suit against Robinson when Robinson cut three positions from the Circuit Clerk’s Office as part of the county’s reduction in force plan that was necessitated by a lack of money but a circuit judge threw out the suit, saying that Woods failed to make his case.


Also Thursday, the county’s legislative body recommended that a resolution allowing Cornerstone Processing to participate in the state’s tax back program which will allow the company to get back the sales taxes they pay for the purchase of equipment and the like for the plant.


Stacy Kessler, the plant manager for Cornerstone, which has taken over the former Tyson plant on West 2nd Avenue said the plant will employ 150 to 180 people when they begin operations which he said should be within the next 60 days. Kessler said approximately 350 applications have been submitted and interviews for the positions will start soon.


Kessler said Cornerstone Processing will process spent hens who can no longer lay eggs with Asia as a primary market for the finished product and has already upgraded some of the facilities and added a new outdoor shed for the poultry trucks to keep the hens out of the sun.


The Pine Bluff City Council has already approved a similar resolution for the company.


In other business, an ordinance to authorize the issuance of industrial development revenue bonds for Highland Pellets was recommended for approval during the upcoming meeting of the Quorum Court Monday. Originally, the ordinance called for the issuance of up to $300 million in bonds but that number has been reduced to $185 million and Harden said the county would have no liability.


As a part of the agreement, Highland Pellets will pay back taxes they owe for 2018 and will pay the taxes for 2019, which was a concern for a delegation from the White Hall School District when the issue was discussed in February. The district has now sent a letter to the county supporting the issuance of the bonds.


Robinson said the bonds will allow the company to put 116 people, most of whom had been laid off while Highland Pellets retooled their facility back to work.


“We will keep the company here,{ he said. “The people will still have jobs. All the concerns have been answered and we’re safe.”


Also recommended for approval were resolutions which will allow Robinson to apply for Arkansas Community and Economic Development funds and a companion resolution creating a policy prohibiting the use of excessive force by law enforcement agencies against individuals “engaged in non-violent civil rights demonstrations.”


The Quorum Court will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday and will also hear a presentation on a new health department and veterans administration office.