Any increase in bed space at the 168,000-square-foot Garland County jail would be quickly absorbed, no matter how many housing units are operating, Garland County Quorum Court recently heard.

In his June report to the Hot Springs Village Property Owners’ Association governmental affairs committee, Jerry Yeric summarized the report of the Garland County Detention Center administrator, Chief Deputy of Correction Steven Elrod. The administrator had addressed the quorum court’s public health, welfare and safety committee.

On other topics, Yeric said Fountain Lake voters rejected a millage hike in the May’a school election by an almost 2-1 margin  – 1,271 to 660 in certified results.
Saline County residents opposed the proposal 441 to 391 while the margin in Garland County was wider 830-268, Yeric said. The turnout rate was 14.7 percent in Garland County and 12.6 in Saline County. Saline County voters typically turn out in larger percentages than Garland County voters.

Oaklawn’s expanded casino will be open before its next live racing season. “It’s a new era at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, as the $100 million expansion announced in November 2018 is now well underway,” Yeric told the GAC. “The expansion, which will include 28,000 square feet of additional gaming space that will open prior to the 2020 live racing season, was announced following the passage of Issue 4, which became Amendment 100.”

Also, work continues at National Park College on the new boulevard entrance on Mountain Pine Road. The new road will lead to the new Student Commons building, under construction as part of NPC’s master plan’s phase 1.

The human body is the topic of a temporary exhibit, “Magnificent Me,” at the Mid-America Science Museum, Yeric said.

Water samples collected earlier this year on the south and east ends of Hot Springs’ regional water system exceeded federal limits for a chemical compound linked to increased risk of liver and kidney cancer. Hot Springs will build a 15 million-gallon a day treatment plant near Amity Road.

And, Arkansas Department of Transportation said resurfacing of the King Expressway from interchanges of Airport Road to Central Avenue could begin as this month.

On medical cannabis, Yeric said sales in Garland County were brisk since the state’s first legal sale of the drug was transacted.

More than 3,100 transactions through the first days produced more than 35 pounds in sales, according to information provided by the state Department of Finance and Administration, Yeric said, with the cost of  $15 dollars per gram.

On the first two days 13 pounds were sold in Garland County, which would be around $85,000 in gross sales. The state’s first two dispensaries of the drug are in Garland County.

Under Amendment 98 approved by voters in 2016, medical cannabis sales are fully taxable under state and local sales taxes.

Medical cannabis patients must obtain an annual ID card to use the drug. Caregivers to medical cannabis patients may also apply for an ID card, which would allow them to buy marijuana solely for their patient’s or patients’ use.

A non-refundable $50 is charged for either application, so applicants pay even if the application is denied. Caregivers must also pay a non-refundable $37 for a background check.
The Department of Health said it had sold 14,400 ID cards as of last Friday.

But marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the Arkansas State Police website says. Among numerous questions, the application for a concealed firearm carry license asks if the applicant holds a current medical cannabis permit.

Arkansas law protects medical marijuana users from arrest if they have no more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis for bonafide medical use. Law enforcement officers who have reasonable cause to believe a patient’s cannabis is not for medical use could charge the user with a crime.

Patients must carry their cannabis card, must not operate a motor vehicle while using the drug and may not use it in a public place.

For more information, visit the Arkansas Department of Health and Arkansas State Police websites, https://www.healthy.arka nsas.gov/programs-servi ces/topics/medical-mariju ana and https://asp.arkansas.gov/services-and-programs/detail/concealed-handgun-licensing,
Benton Police Department Capt. Kevin Russell is among the five members of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission.

In his Tri-Lakes Metropolitan Planning Organization Report, David Whitlow gave updates on highways:

• Extension of King Expressway to Fountain Lake is scheduled to go to bid November 2019.
• Widening of much of Highway 7 North to three lanes, with curb and gutter, should begin in the spring of 2020.
• Safety improvements on Highway 5 to Deer Park Road is scheduled for summer 2020.
• Safety improvements on Highway 7 North to Highway 298 are planned for January 2020.
Bridge replacements on the Danville Road are nearing completion, but it remains a construction zone, with delays possible. Completion is dependent upon weather.
The project to widen 5.5 miles of Interstate 30 to six lanes in Saline County from Benton’s Sevier-South Street exit to the U.S. Highway 70 West exit is underway.