Lawrence County furloughs end; county prepares for next steps

Lawrence County furloughs end; county prepares for next steps

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - Over 40 furloughed workers in Lawrence County returned to work last week. This came after the county made the difficult decision to furlough the employees back in May.

Every department in the county was affected by the furlough, leading to some slowdown in services, with the exception of the sheriff’s office, the jail, and emergency services.

At the time County Judge John Thomison said the move would allow them to make it through the fiscal year and that the hope was to help the county without hurting the employees.

Judge Thomison believes the county was successful in doing that.

“We have all done better than we thought and I won’t say they missed the projections, but, you know, we had to adjust those,” Judge Thomison said.

The county judge said people shopping at home has helped the county tremendously. He estimated that the move saved a total of over $130,000, but he hopes that the final total will be more than that as the county is preparing for a hit in the budget in the fall due to COVID-19.

He added that the road department has been hit the hardest, but he’s expecting a full recovery. He said the department is fully staffed and is “full steam ahead” heading into the fall.

Billy Lawrence, the Lawrence County Shop Foreman, was one of the employees impacted by the furlough. He says the past two months have been a different time for him.

“Going into it, I really didn’t know what to think just like everybody else,” Lawrence said. “I knew everything was going to be fine here. Everybody that I work with down there and everybody here, they’re happy that we’re back to work.”

Lawrence said he had mixed feelings about the furlough, but he knew it would benefit the county and he’s grateful to be on the other side of it.

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