AAC conference succeeds in keeping county officials informed, engaged

AAC Board President thanks officials and AAC staff for organizing a successful 49th annual conference, and reflects on her role as a public servant.

By Judy Beth Hutcherson
AAC Board President; Clark County Treasurer

I was thrilled to join you all at the 49th annual AAC Conference in Little Rock a few weeks ago. The excitement and energy surrounding conference always reinvigorates me as I head back to Clark County to fulfill my role as county treasurer. Conference reiterates to me the importance of our role as public servants. From the remarks made by National Association of Counties 1st Vice President Greg Cox to the association meetings to the breakout sessions, each element of this year’s conference emphasized the great responsibility bestowed upon us by the electorate. It is our duty to remain informed and engaged so we can act in the best interest of our constituents.

I want to extend my gratitude to my fellow AAC board member, Debbie Wise, for presiding over this year’s event. She exuded a level of leadership we all should strive to attain. And I thank the AAC staff, in particular Elizabeth Kellar, for their work both before and during conference. This was Elizabeth’s first year to plan and oversee an AAC conference. She handled the responsibility admirably. If you get a chance, please commend her on a job well done.

The staff works passionately each year to craft an event that will leave an impression on us, and I can think of several highlights. The talented Miss Arkansas 2017 Maggie Benton delivered a touching tribute to our country when she sang the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful.” State legislators who sit on the Senate and House City, County and Local Affairs committees and the Senate and House State Agencies committees convened during our conference. They listened to our concerns, and they heard about new efficiencies the AAC is implementing — namely a pilot program called Arraignment Bridge. This program allows communication among inmates, sheriffs and judges to take place via video, thus reducing the risk associated with transporting inmates to and from courthouses and state prisons. I look forward to when this technology is made available to all our AAC Risk Management Fund member counties.

The legislators’ presence at the AAC conference is much appreciated, as it allows them a glimpse into our world and affords us a chance to forge the relationships we need in place when we go to the Capitol. All of us should strive to maintain an open line of communication with state lawmakers.

It was an honor to have Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge join us for our Thursday morning general session. She is such a strong advocate for counties and law enforcement. And I sincerely thank Gov. Asa Hutchinson for making time in his busy schedule to speak with us Friday morning. He announced four counties will receive funding for crisis stabilization units — facilities for which the AAC has advocated to alleviate jail overcrowding.

The breakout sessions were helpful and timely. We learned more about the state’s new medical marijuana laws and our role in the implementation of those laws, human resources best practices, diversity in the workplace, and courthouse security and self-defense.

We also had opportunities to fellowship with one another. The relationships we establish with those in our county family are so important. We are our greatest allies and sources of support. You can’t put a price tag on the experience of those who have been serving the public for numerous years. With their sage wisdom, we all can remain informed and engaged — and be more effective servants to our public.

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