Week in Review 11-19 to 11-25

New Judge assigned to Theodosia murder case

A new judge has been assigned in the murder case of Rebecca Ruud. According to the Ozark County Times, Judge Calvin Holden has been assigned by the Missouri Supreme Court to hear Theodosia resident Rebecca Ruud’s case in connection with the murder of her 16-year-old biological daughter Savannah Leckie. Holden is currently a circuit judge based in Greene County.

The Supreme Court assignment was made November 14th after a motion for a change of judge was sustained during a October 27th hearing before Judge Tony W. Williams. The case has been transferred to Taney County from Ozark County.

Ruud and Robert Peat Jr., husband and wife, are both charged with murdering Savannah Leckie and disposing of her corpse. Ruud reported Leckie missing from her Theodosia-area farm July 20. Investigators found Leckie’s burned remains on the farm Aug. 4. Peat, represented by James Robert Hayes, has also filed for a change of judge, but an assignment has not yet been made.

The state is represented in both cases by Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney John Garrabrant and Assistant Attorney General Steven Mark Kretzer.

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Male shot in alleged family disturbance at Baxter County residence

An alleged family disturbance on Thanksgiving led to a man being shot near Mountain Home. According to Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery, the unidentified 26-year-old victim is in Baxter Regional Medical Center and was in good condition at the last report.

Deputies were dispatched to a residence on County Road 29, also known as Buzzard Roost Cutoff, just before 9:00 Thursday evening on a report of a male being shot in the chest. When they arrived, they found the victim was shot once in the chest by an unidentified 69-year-old female listed as the owner of the residence.

The alleged shooter was questioned by sheriff's investigators, and she asserted a self-defense claim accusing the victim of threatening her and acting in an aggressive manner. She stated this had also occurred in the recent past.

No one has been arrested in the incident, but the investigation is continuing. Sheriff Montgomery says investigators will review evidence and witness statements with the Prosecuting Attorney next week to determine if charges should be filed in the case.

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Vehicle fire being investigated as arson

A vehicle fire Thursday evening is being investigated as a possible arson. According to an incident report from the Baxter County Sheriff's Office, a Baxter County Deputy was dispatched to the scene at a residence on Flower Garden Drive in rural Mountain Home at approximately 7:30 Thursday night.

The deputy made contact with Midway Fire Protection District Chief Donald Tucker who said the residents have had problems lately with vandalism to their daughter's car. The victims said not long ago her driver's side vehicle window was broken out.

The victims were at home when the fire broke out. One of them came outside because the car alarm was going off and discovered the driver's side door open and the car on fire. At the time there wasn't anyone in the area.

A possible suspect has been named in the case, however no arrests have been made.

The incident is under investigation by the Sheriff's Department.

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Marion County jail construction project to get expanded

It was over a year ago when Marion County voters approved a sales tax increase to pay for constructing a new 60-bed jail complex in Yellville for a cost of over $8.1 million. Recently, Marion County Judge Terry Ott is reporting some changes to the plan as a multi-purpose/training room will be added to the complex.

SouthBuild Team, L.L.C., was tasked with meeting with a bond company to determine the amount necessary to build the new detention facility. After an estimate was determined to be over $8 million for the cost of the project, bids came in from over 300 construction companies inside and outside the Twin Lakes Area, and officials realized the bids were going to be lower than expected. Marion County Judge Terry Ott says the extra money is required to be used for the construction project, or else, it has to be returned.

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Ott says the new addition to the jailhouse has the potential for several uses.

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The judge goes on to say he has received some pushback on the new addition to the jail, and most of it comes from outside the local government.

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Ott says despite the addition, the construction project should not see any delays, and it's expected to be complete by December of next year. For more information, contact the judge's office at 870-449-6231.

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Audit significantly impacts November sales tax reports

A recent audit, conducted by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFNA), had a significant impact on the 2017 November sales tax numbers for both Baxter County and the City of Mountain Home.

In Baxter County, the numbers released for November, which reflect sales tax collected in September, show a large decrease compared to last year, according to Baxter County Treasurer Jenay Mize.

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Mize says before last week's county Budget Committee meeting she received a call from DFNA's Mike Yancey, of the Office of Excise Tax Administration, letting her know Baxter County will take a big hit for the month of November due to a refund back to an undisclosed business that had inadvertently paid the wrong amount, or paid on something they shouldn't have, or paid it to the wrong entity.

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According to Mize, the deficit impacts Baxter County's anticipated revenue. The carryover amount will be short the over $300,000 originally planned.

Mountain Home City Treasurer Deborah Cotter says the City of Mountain Home will also feel the impact. The city receives a portion of county sales tax collected based upon population.

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The City of Mountain Home has opted to clear up their portion of the deficit over a ten month period.

The county made a one-time payment.

How the money will be recovered will be up to Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass and the Baxter County Quorum Court. Mize says there are some funds set aside, in the amount of 1.8 million dollars, that have not been budgeted in. She notes those funds are one-time funds and would not sustain the budget. The county will still need to find recurring revenue streams.

The county sales tax is divided among the county and the eight municipalities, with Mountain Home leading the way with $15,318. Gassville collected $2,557, while Cotter picked up $1,194. Lakeview took in $912. Norfork received $629. Salesville collected $554. The City of Briarcliff netted $290 and Big Flat received $128.

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