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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this May 31, 2019 file photo, an aerial image provided by Yell County Sheriff's Department shows water rushing through the levee along the Arkansas River in Dardanelle. (Yell County Sheriff's Department via AP-File)

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's 25-member task force to study and analyze the current conditions of the state's levees will be chaired by Jami Cook, secretary of the Department of Public Safety, the governor announced Monday.

The Arkansas Levee Task Force also includes seven other state officials, four lawmakers, three county judges and two mayors, according to a list released by the governor's office. The task force's first meeting will be at 1:30 p.m. Friday at a location to be announced later this week.

The Republican governor announced the formation of the task force on June 27 when he said he would seek the transfer of $10 million from the Budget Stabilization Trust Fund to the Department of Emergency Management to mend levees that were damaged by the historic flooding along the Arkansas River this spring.

The department is working with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission to develop a program to oversee the appropriate release of these funds, said Hutchinson spokesman J.R. Davis. The Legislative Council will be asked to approve the rules of the program and a cash letter appropriation to support release of the funds for levee repair, he said.

The task force includes:

• State Land Commissioner Tommy Land, a Republican from Heber Springs.

• Department of Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward.

• Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Larry Walther.

• Arkansas Natural Resources Commission Director Bruce Holland.

• Arkansas Department of Emergency Management Director A.J. Gary.

• Arkansas Waterways Commission Director Deidre Smith.

• Geographic Information Office Director Shelby Johnson.

• State Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway.

• State Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch.

• State Rep. Mary Bentley, R-Perryville.

• State Rep. David Hillman, R-Almyra.

• Yell County Judge Mark Thone.

• Jackson County Judge Jeff Phillips.

• Chicot County Judge Mack Ball.

• Pope County Clerk Pam Ennis.

• Dardanelle Mayor Jimmy Witt.

• Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington.

• St. Francis Levee Board member Rob Rash.

• Mike Lowe, for Miller County.

• Tim Ralston, for Pope and Conway counties.

• Marty Shell, for Sebastian and Crawford counties.

• Farm Bureau engineer Evan Teague.

• Engineer Tommy Bond of Pulaski County.

• Attorney Hal Kemp of Pulaski County.

Gallery: May-June flooding in Arkansas

Members of the task force will also identify sources and requirements for funding the construction, repair, and maintenance of the levees; study prospective monitoring and reporting systems for maintenance of the levees; and review adequacy of current laws and the organizational structure of the levee system and district boards, according to the governor's office.

The task force shall provide a report of its findings and make recommendations to the governor by Dec. 31.

Metro on 07/09/2019

Print Headline: Members selected for Arkansas Levee Task Force


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